Nowadays, people do not pay as much attention to language as they should regardless of the impact it may have on everyday life. In the chapter “Spoken Language”, McCarthy suggests focusing on such details of spoken language as grammar, vocabulary, and even intonation. It is important for learners to understand which forms of talks are appropriate and useful, and which practices are helpful to teachers and learners. There are several key points in the chapter, and the authors begin with the types of conversations and the peculiar features of adjacency pairs in spoken language.
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Key Points and Examples
It is necessary to comprehend that spoken language may gain different forms, including telephone calls that may be business-oriented and private, interviews that may cover a variety of topics, classroom talks, service encounters, rituals, organizational talks, monologues, and casual conversation. Each form has a number of small units and large concepts that have to be learned. It is suggested to focus on adjacency pairs.
Adjacency pairs are the mutually dependent pairs of utterances in a talk. There are phrases that perform an utterance function, and the phrases that are defined as expected responses. For example, if a person greets another person, it is expected to get a greeting in response. If there is an apology, it is expected to have acceptance. If there is congratulation, a thanks phrase is expected. All these are examples of adjacency pairs in spoken language. They may vary in regard to the manner of speaking or the chosen intonation. Still, all of them are characterized by the same function.
Adjacency pairs may be of two types: first pair-parts (hello-hello, Happy New Year – Happy New Year) and second pair-part (congratulations – thanks). In their turn, first pair-parts phrases of invitation may be accompanied by such different responses: bald “no” answers, appreciation (thank you), softener (I’m afraid), reason and explanation, or face-saver (what about).
Native and non-native speakers may also demonstrate different structures of adjacency pairs: formal and blunt non-native talks vs. informal and informative native talks. For example, non-native speakers say “I would like to invite you”, and a native speaker may say “I am wondering if you are free…” and continue giving some details to attract attention.
Finally, behavior matters in talks and speakers try to focus on observations as the best method to understand what kind of word should be chosen and why. In general, the creation of an adjacency pair may be predetermined by (1) setting, (2) role, (3) function, and (4) knowledge.