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Managing problems in speaking

Herbert H. Clark

The problems that participants in conversation have, it is argued, are really joint problems and have to be managed jointly.  The participants have three types of strategies for managing them. (1) They try to prevent foreseeable but avoidable problems.  (2) They warn partners of foreseeable but unavoidable problems. And (3) they repair problems that have already arisen.  Speakers and addressees coordinate actions at three levels of talk: (1) the speaker's articulation and the addressee's attention to that articulation; (2) the speaker's presentation of an utterance and the addressees' identification of that utterance; and (3) the speaker's meaning and the addressees' understanding of that meaning. There is evidence that the participants have joint strategies for preventing, warning about and repairing problems at each of these levels. There is also evidence that they prefer preventatives to warnings, and warnings to repairs, all other things being equal.
Clark, H. 1994 Managing problems in speaking. In Speech Communication 15: 243-250.

Key points relevant to the study of filled pauses


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