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(Dis)fluencies and their contribution to the co-construction of meaning in native and non-native tandem interactions of French and English

La contribution des (dis)fluences dans la co-construction du sens dans des interactions anglais-français en langue première et seconde
Loulou Kosmala

Résumés

Cet article vise à étudier la contribution des (dis)fluences dans la co-construction multimodale du sens en interaction, et plus particulièrement dans le cadre des interactions tandems. Les interactions tandems, qui reposent sur l’alternance entre le rôle du locuteur natif et celui non-natif, peuvent être considérées asymétriques (Adams, 1998) puisque le locuteur natif doit adapter son discours et sa gestuelle au locuteur non-natif (Adams 1998) et que les locuteurs non-natifs doivent également déployer des stratégies communicatives pour faire face à leurs difficultés de production (Gullberg, 2011). La situation tandem sera entendue ici comme discours « didactique » puisque le premier objectif des locuteurs qui interagissent dans une langue plus ou moins maîtrisée est de se faire comprendre. Cela renvoie à la notion de didacticité seconde explorée par Moirand (1993) qui fait référence aux discours qui ne sont pas didactiques en soi (e.g. contexte scolaire) mais qui relèvent d’une intention didactique. Dans cet article, la notion de didacticité seconde et d’intention pédagogique est explorée dans le cadre de l’analyse des (dis)fluences et de leurs manifestations multimodales.
La (dis)fluence peut se définir comme une suspension ou une interruption du flux de la parole (Ferreira & Bailey 2004) et se manifeste sous la forme de plusieurs marqueurs vocaux et morpho-syntactiques, tels que les pauses remplies, les pauses silencieuses, les allongements de syllabe, les répétitions, les auto-corrections, les auto-interruptions etc. (Shriberg, 1994). Ces phénomènes ont souvent été considérés dans la littérature comme des signes de problèmes ou de dysfonctionnement liés à la production des énoncés (Schachter, Christenfeld, & Bilous, 1991; Smith & Clark, 1993) tandis que des études plus récentes défendent l’idée qu’ils ont également avoir des fonctions discursives et communicatives en interaction (Tottie 2014; 2011; Kjellmer 2003; Tellier, et al., 2013). Cette opposition, ou ce conflit reflété dans la littérature souligne l’aspect polyvalent des (dis)fluences : les mêmes formes, selon leur distribution locale et globale en contexte peuvent à la fois être des signes de fluence et de disfluence (Crible, et al., 2017). Cet article vise donc à dépasser l’opposition binaire traditionnelle entre « fluence » et « disfluence », et d’analyser ces phénomènes sur un continuum où l’on trouve plusieurs degrés de (dis)fluence. En partant d’une vision polyvalente, fonctionnelle et interactionnelle de ces phénomènes, nous adoptons une définition de la grammaire qui est dynamique et qui s’adapte à une diversité de contextes discursifs et sociologiques (Mondada 2001). Cela prend également en compte la perspective de l’analyse conversationnelle (Sacks, 1992 ; Sacks et al. 1974) qui vise à analyser minutieusement la dimension séquentielle des énoncés ; les énoncés sont constamment construits, planifiés, ajustés au fur et à mesure qu’ils émergent de l’intention des locuteurs. Dès lors, les (dis)fluences prennent leur sens dans l’interaction, et sont constitutifs de la parole spontanée. De plus, cet article souligne l’aspect multimodal des (dis)fluences, puisqu’elles peuvent se manifester par le biais de plusieurs ressources sémiotiques. Certaines études se sont intéressées à la production des gestes qui apparaissent en même temps que les (dis)fluences (Stam & Tellier 2017 pour les pauses, Seyfedinnipur sur les auto-corrections) ; tandis que les (dis)fluences n’ont pas de contenu propositionnel ou sémantique en soi, les gestes qui les accompagnent peuvent aider à déterminer leurs fonctions au sein de l’interaction. D’autres chercheurs se sont également intéressés à des cas où la suspension du geste suivait celle de la parole (Graziano & Gullberg, 2013, 2018), ce qui défend l’idée que la parole et les gestes peuvent fonctionner de manière synchrone. L’étude du regard a également son importance dans le rôle des (dis)fluences en interaction (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1986). Cet article s’inscrit dans la lignée de ces études, et propose une perspective nouvelle de la (dis)fluence en suivant un axe epistémologique qui souligne l’importance des signaux faciaux et gestuels dans la co-construction du sens en interaction.
Afin d’explorer la dimension interactionnelle des (dis)fluences dans le cadre d’interactions tandems, la présente étude s’appuie sur le corpus SITAF, un corpus vidéo collecté à la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Sylwia & Scheuer, 2015) qui comprend plusieurs interactions dyadiques tandems entre des locuteurs francophones et anglophones qui interagissent mutuellement dans leur L1 et leur L2. Ce corpus a déjà été exploré dans le cadre des (dis)fluences lors d’études précédentes (Kosmala & Morgenstern, 2017; Kosmala et al. 2019 ; Kosmala, à venir) mais cet article repose sur l’analyse détaillée de deux séquences tirées d’une même paire du corpus. Ces analyses soulignent l’aspect interactionnel et multimodal des (dis)fluences et le fait qu’elles puissent apparaitre dans des contextes d’activité et de réalisation conjointe. Tandis que les résultats quantitatifs soulignent peu la dimension interactionnelle et multimodale des (dis)fluences (puisque très peu de gestes (20%) accompagnaient les (dis)fluences dans les données), l’analyse qualitative, à travers une approche multimodale contextualisée, est cruciale dans l’analyse de ces processus puisqu’elle permet de prendre en compte la complexité des (dis)fluences, qui sont déterminées par leur contexte d’apparition. Les analyses proposées dans cet article servent également de complément au codage minutieux qui a été effectué sur les données et qui prend en compte les spécificités verbales et non-verbales des (dis)fluences.
La première séquence analysée porte sur l’interaction en anglais où la locutrice française non-native discute des émissions de télé réalité et du comportement des acteurs lors de ces émissions. Seulement, la locutrice a mal compris le sujet (écrit en anglais sur un bout de papier), puisqu’il portait sur les réseaux sociaux, et non sur la télé réalité. Lors de cette séquence, le locuteur natif, par le biais de plusieurs (dis)fluences et ressources visuo-gestuelles, tente de réajuster le sens en effectuant un geste déictique vers le morceau de papier afin de bien vérifier le sujet écrit dessus, puis de faire comprendre à son interlocutrice qu’elle s’est trompée. Il produit également un autre geste cyclique par la suite en tentant de faire parler la locutrice sur le sujet. Le locuteur arrive à jouer deux rôles en même temps, celui du co-participant de l’interaction, et celui de l’expert natif qui tente de régler ce malentendu. Cette action peut s’interpréter comme relevant d’une intention pédagogique, puisque le locuteur fait recours à la gestuelle pour faciliter l’accès au sens, mais aussi pour inciter son interlocutrice à parler.
La deuxième séquence porte sur l’interaction en français, où les rôles sont inversés, et c’est donc cette fois ci le locuteur américain non-natif qui discute du sujet. Le sujet porte sur l’adolescence, et contrairement à la première séquence, les deux locuteurs sont parfaitement d’accord sur la question, et il n’y a aucun problème de communication. A un moment précis de l’interaction, le locuteur non-natif souhaite exprimer une idée, et produit dès lors un geste référentiel qui renvoie à la notion des hauts et des bas, en même temps qu’une (dis)fluence. Sa locutrice complète son énoncé, et verbalise cette notion en énonçant « des hauts et des bas ». Cette fois ci, le locuteur non-natif n’a pas l’air d’éprouver de difficulté lexicale car il ne s’adresse pas à son interlocutrice pour qu’elle lui vienne en aide, et sa partenaire, via une reprise gestuelle, participe dès lors à la co-construction du sens. Cette séquence peut donc être vue comme le fruit d’un travail collaboratif sur une notion précise en contexte. À nouveau, l’intention pédagogique des locuteurs peut être manifestée à travers cet échange puisqu’ils avaient comme but commun de se faire comprendre et de souligner leur accord. Seulement, le degré de didacticité était un peu moins marqué que lors de la première séquence puisque la relation expert/novice semble moins accentuée. Cela peut souligner l’idée que les gestes pédagogiques peuvent être envisagés sur un continuum qui comporte plusieurs degrés de didacticité. (Azaoui, 2015).
Pour conclure, cet article souligne l’aspect interactionnel des (dis)fluences en interaction tandem, que l’on peut considérer ici comme discours pédagogique puisque certains des gestes utilisés par les locuteurs en contexte relevaient d’une intention pédagogique en lien avec la stratégie du sens. Les analyses ont également montré que les locuteurs natifs et non-natifs, par le biais des (dis)fluences et de plusieurs ressources sémiotiques ont su co-construire le sens en tandem. La co-construction du sens se fait donc à travers le corps, les gestes, le regard et la parole.

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Introduction

The multimodality of tandem interactions

1During native and non-native face-to-face spoken interactions, meaning often has to be elaborated, adjusted, and co-constructed between two or more interlocutors. These interactions can be considered asymmetrical (Kebrat-Orecchioni, 1992; Alber & Py, 1986) as they involve one expert (a native speaker) and one novice of the language (a non-native speaker). However, in tandem interactions, where both speakers alternate between their native and non-native status, the language expertise of the participants is contextual and temporary, and not institutionally defined as in teacher-class settings (Debras et al., in press). These interactions are thus based on a collaborative learning environment (Calvert & Brammerts 2003) and a sense of mutual solidarity, where both participants genuinely want to learn their partner’s L1 (Horgues & Scheuer 2015). In this paper, we consider talk-in interaction as a series of joint actions (Clark 1996: 03) during which speakers act in coordination with one another in order to achieve continuity in discourse. When it comes to tandem interactions, one of the primary goals for speakers is to make themselves understood. In order to do that, they can rely on several strategies, such as the use of foreigner talk (Ferguson 1975): when native speakers adapt their speech to the non-native speakers in order to make it easier to understand (slower speech rate, simpler vocabulary, louder speech etc.). They can also use different types of gestures that are more adapted to second language learners (Adams, 1998). Non-native speakers on the other hand, may rely on communication strategies (Tarone 1980), which are defined as possible solutions to lexical, grammatical and interaction-related problems. Such strategies include paraphrasing, substitution, appeal for assistance etc., and speakers can also rely on additional multimodal resources to resolve these difficulties (Gullberg 2011).

2Several authors have pointed out the multimodal dimension of tandem interactions (Horgues & Scheuer 2015; Debras, et al., in press; Debras & Beaupoil-Hourdel 2019). It is thus essential to take visual-gestural features into account when analyzing face-to-face communication. In second language discourse, gestures are truly relevant as they can be used as a compensatory device with expressive power and rich semiotic affordances (Gullberg, 2011: 138). Several studies have also pointed out the role of gestures during lexical retrieval (Krauss & Hadar 1999; Stam 2001), or the role of representational gestures to elicit lexical help from the interlocutor (Gullberg 2014). Moreover, manual gestures, that can be defined as a communicative movement of the hand (Streeck 2008, 27) play a major role in the sequencing and organization of interaction. They can be used to signal turn-taking by displaying a request for a turn (Mondada 2007), or projecting a concept or an action in the beginning of a turn (forward-gesturing, Streeck, 2009). They can also be used to indicate aspects of an illocutionary force, discourse structure, or a stance (Kendon 2004; 1995). Other visual features, such as gaze direction and facial expression, also play a key part in interaction (Kendon 1967; Rossano 2013). In this paper, we will further confirm the role of those visual-gestural features in contexts of co-construction by offering a close examination of their use during (dis)fluencies.

The emergence of multimodal (dis)fluencies within the context of co-construction in pedagogical discourse

3Disfluency is traditionally defined as a temporary suspension or interruption of the speech flow (Ferreira & Bailey 2004), and is characterized by a series of vocal and morpho-syntactic markers, such as filled pauses, unfilled pauses, prolongations, self-repetitions, self-repairs, self-interruptions etc. (Shriberg 1994) It has often been associated to speech production difficulty (Smith & Clark, 1993), as they can be viewed as signals of upcoming problems in speech (Fox Tree & Clark 2002). However, other studies have also pointed out their discourse and interactional functions and the fact that they can contribute to the fluency of discourse (Tottie 2014; 2011; Holmes 1988), which makes the use of the term disfluency questionable (Tottie 2014). This has motivated our use of the term (dis)fluency with dis in brackets (in line with Götz, 2013; Crible et al. 2017) which is grounded in a functionally ambivalent approach to these phenomena. This approach points out the ambivalent aspect of (dis)fluencies as they can in fact show two sides of the same coin (Crible, et al., 2017). The same forms, depending on their distribution in the micro and macro context can show signs of fluency and/or disfluency. (Dis)fluency should therefore no longer be considered in terms of a binary opposition between fluency and disfluency, but rather in a continuum with several degrees of (dis)fluency.

4Further grounded in a functional, interactional and dynamic approach to grammar, this paper aims to explore the way in which (dis)fluencies can contribute to the co-construction of meaning in interaction. Following Mondada (2001), we consider grammar as a dynamic process which can adapt to a variety of social and discursive contexts, and is associated with activities that are coordinated locally in the interaction. This takes into account the temporal and sequential dimension of conversation. Utterances are thus constantly planned, constructed, adjusted spontaneously, and emerge from the speakers’ intentions. Similarly, (dis)fluencies are produced when speakers are currently planning parts of their utterances. (Dis)fluencies are, in fact, inherent to spontaneous speech. As speakers do not know in advance what they are going to say, how they are going to say it, or how the interlocutors are going to respond (Clark 2003), they may need extra time to manage their online production and turn-regulation. Some studies conducted on (dis)fluency research have pointed out their pragmatic role in the interaction: they can be used to serve turn-taking mechanisms (Schegloff, 2010; Sacks et al. 1974) indicate a dispreferred answer (Roberts et al. 2006), maintain a speaker-hearer relationship (Kjellmer, 2003), or highlight and defend an idea (Tottie, 2014). In the field of social interaction, Goodwin (1981) has illustrated the way (dis)fluencies can be negotiated in context. In his book entitled Conversational Organization: Interaction Between Speakers and Hearers, he has shown how several specific phenomena such as repeats, pauses, or lengthening can facilitate the coordination of the speakers’ actions. For example, delaying a word completion by repeating it can help speakers to secure their interlocutor’s gaze when they were previously gazing away and not engaging in the interaction. Thus, mutual gaze is regained between the speaker and the hearer, which allows the co-speakers to achieve a state of mutual orientation, following the delay. In this sense, the action of delaying speech (with a (dis)fluency) can be viewed as an interactive task. Gaze thus plays a key role in the analysis of (dis)fluency, which will be explored further in our qualitative analyses.

5Additionally, (dis)fluency should not only be considered from a strictly vocal or verbal perspective, but from a multimodal one as well, as it can be marked through visual semiotic resources. In a study conducted on unfilled pauses and the gestures used by native speakers to address non-native speakers, Stam & Tellier (2017) found that a great number of gestures was produced during pauses, and the gestures produced served several functions (mainly production-oriented, interaction-oriented, and comprehension oriented). While (dis)fluencies are typically non-lexical and have no semantic weight, their co-occurring gestures can provide a deeper understanding of these processes, and most particularly their pragmatic functions in interaction (Kosmala et al. 2019). A close relation between gesture execution and speech production can also be found. Seyfeddinipur (2006) investigated the coordination of speech disfluencies and gestures, and found that out of 432 speech suspensions, 306 were accompanied by gestures. Seyfeddinipur & Kita (2001) also found that gestures tended to be suspended prior to the production of speech disfluencies. This is similar to the results found in the studies of Graziano & Gullberg (2013; 2018) which showed that when speech stopped, gesture also stopped. This supports the view that speech and gesture form an integrated system in speech production (Graziano & Gullberg 2018; McNeill 1992 ; Clark, 1996; Kendon 2004).

6In line with these approaches, this paper offers a fresh ambivalent, multimodal, and dynamic perspective of (dis)fluencies in tandem settings, and the way they emerge in contexts of co-construction in pedagogical discourse. As native speakers constantly adapt and adjust their talk to facilitate production and/or comprehension, and non-native speakers rely on several strategies to deal with their production, tandem interactions can be considered pedagogical to a certain extent. This relates to the notion of secondary didacticity (didacticité seconde) explored by Moirand (1993) which refers to discourse that is not pedagogical by nature but motivated by a pedagogical intention. In this sense, the pedagogical intentions of native and non-native speakers may as well emerge in the context of tandem interactions. Therefore, the notion of pedagogical intention will be examined in this paper, by looking in detail at the way speakers co-construct meaning in tandem. As we will see, both native and non-native speakers rely on (dis)fluencies, accompanied by a variety of semiotic modalities (bodily actions, manual gestures, gaze behavior), either as a communication strategy (for the non-native speakers) or as a resource intended by the native speakers to adjust meaning.

Data and Methods

7The data analyzed in this paper is taken from the SITAF Corpus, which was collected at Sorbonne Nouvelle- Paris 3 by Céline Horgues and Sylwia Scheuer (Horgues & Scheuer 2015). It comprises 21 dyadic face-to-face interactions between native and non-native speakers of French and in English (aged 17-22) in control (L1-L1) and tandem (L1-L2) settings. The participants (undergraduate students) were recruited on a voluntary basis, and were recorded twice during a three-month interval, once following their first encounter at the beginning of the Spring semester, and the second time near the end. They were encouraged to meet regularly between the recording sessions and during the academic year. During the recording sessions, the participants took part in three communicative tasks, first in English and then in French: (1) “Liar, liar”, a storytelling task in which one participant had to tell about their last vacation and insert three lies in the story that was later identified by the tandem partner; (2) “Like Minds” an argumentative task in which the two partners had to discuss a controversial topic and decide on their level of agreement; (3) a reading task during which the participants were asked to read a small text written in their second language, first with the help of their tandem partner, and a second time on their own. The tasks were video-recorded using three different cameras (one recording each participant, and one filming both of them in the frame). The two sequences analyzed in this paper are taken from a selection of the data used in previous studies conducted on (dis)fluencies (Kosmala et al. 2019) which comprises 12 dyadic interactions (6 in French, 6 in English) from the argumentative task (total duration of 55 minutes).

8Several researchers have explored the multimodal quality of the SITAF Corpus and worked on various topics, such as corrective feedback (Horgues & Scheuer, 2015, Debras et al. in press) miscommunication (Horgues and Scheuer 2017) chains of reference (Debras & Beaupoil-Hourdel, 2019) and hesitation disfluency (Kosmala & Morgenstern 2017, Kosmala et al; 2019; Kosmala, forthcoming). This paper offers another contribution to this corpus following the multimodal approach adopted from past studies.

9This paper focuses on the use of (dis)fluencies and their relation to gesture and eye gaze in interaction. Therefore, all of the (dis)fluency markers typically labeled in the literature (see Shriberg 1994 for a review) were annotated, mainly: (1) filled pause (uh/um; euh/eum) (2) unfilled or silent pause (minimum duration: 400ms following Candea, 2000)(3) prolongations, (4) non-lexical repetitions, (5) self-repairs, (6) self-interruptions, (7) truncated words, and (8) non-lexical sounds, such as tongue clicks, inbreaths, and creaky voice. The methodology used for this analysis is taken from a previous pilot study with slight changes in the terminology (Kosmala & Morgenstern 2017) which looked at isolated and combined (dis)fluency markers. The term (dis)fluent sequence is adopted (used by Crible et al. 2019) to refer to the cluster of immediately adjacent (dis)fluency markers. The (dis)fluent sequences were annotated according to their position in the utterance, their duration (in ms) and their level of complexity (whether they appeared isolated (simple) or combined (complex).

10The strategic/sequential (Schegloff 1989 in Goodwin & Heritage 1990) dimension of the interaction was also taken into account for the purpose of micro qualitative analyses. This takes into account the position of the (dis)fluencies within a turn, but also within actions, such as responsive actions (agreement vs disagreement) e.g. a turn-initial pause can often mark disagreement.

11Their visual-gestural features were also analyzed, taking into account the different gesture phrases (Kendon, 2004; Seyfedinnipur, 2006): rest position, preparation phrase, return to rest position, hold (when hands are held in the same position), and completed gesture (when the full gesture is completed, going from preparation to rest position). Similar to Graziano & Gullberg’s coding (2013), the gestures were coded according to their structural properties, whether the stroke was suspended (hold) or complete (completed gesture) (see Kosmala et al 2019; Kosmala, forthcoming). Since the point of this work is to analyze the functional ambivalence of (dis)fluencies and their contribution to the interaction, a functional classification of gestures was used (also in Kosmala et al. 2019; Kosmala forthcoming), following Kendon (2004), Müller (1998), in Cienki 2005), Streeck (2009) and Gullberg (1995), as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Functional gesture classification

12The facial features of the (dis)fluencies were also analyzed, including gaze direction (away or towards the interlocutor) and the display of a salient facial expression (thinking face, frown, smile, raised eyebrows, pout etc.) which appeared during a (dis)fluent sequence. All of these features were annotated with the software ELAN (Sloetjes & Wittenburg 2008).

13Even though gestures did not often accompany (dis)fluencies and (dis)fluencies rarely occurred in interactional contexts in this data, (20% of the time approximately; see Kosmala & Morgenstern, 2017; Kosmala, forthcoming; Kosmala et al. 2019) quantitative findings do not give a clear picture of individual differences nor of the degree of variation found in (dis)fluencies. In order to examine these processes more closely, it is essential to not only look at the overall distribution of (dis)fluencies throughout the data but also to look at their local distribution in the interaction, as well as their context of use. This follows the approach adopted by conversation analysists (Sacks et al. 1974; Sacks 1992; Mondada 2007) which focuses on the sequential organization of oral interactions. Given the ambivalent status of (dis)fluencies, qualitative analyses can shed light on their multifunctional and multimodal dimension. As (dis)fluencies lack propositional content and occur so regularly in speech (6 to 7 times per hundred words, Shriberg 1994) for several potential cognitive reasons (i.e. uncertainty, production difficulty, anxiety, etc.) it can still be very difficult to determine their underlying functions. Many researchers have looked at (dis)fluencies from the point of view of production and/or perception (Shriberg, 1994; Finlayson & Corley, 2012), but rarely from the point of view of interaction. By looking at their immediate context, and their accompanying visual-gestural features in some interactional sequences, we can get a clearer understanding of their contribution to the unfolding of the interaction (Schegloff, 2010). Therefore, the present study will focus on two selected examples from the data which will be analyzed in detail, taking into account the context of use of the (dis)fluencies. The examples were chosen for their rich use of semiotic resources and their relation to the notion of pedagogical intention and secondary didacticity in the co-construction of meaning. These analyses provide a detailed description of the multimodal aspects of (dis)fluencies and illustrate how speakers manage interaction, work on their production, elaborate and construct meaning in tandem.

Qualitative analyses: from readjustment to co-construction

  • 1 Sylwia Scheuer, who collected the SITAF corpus with Céline Horgues, actually pointed out during a s (...)

14The two sequences are taken from the same pair (Pair 11) interacting in English and in French, during the second recording session. This pair was chosen because of the quality of their exchanges: both participants took their native speaker role very seriously and tried to give each other as much corrective feedback as possible1. They very easily alternated between their native and non-native speaker status by relying on different strategies, and this was found particularly interesting for the present analyses. In the following transcriptions, NNS stands for non-native speaker, and NS for native-speaker.

Readjusting meaning through talk and gesture

15The first sequence (A) is taken from the interaction in English, in which F11, the French speaker is the non-native speaker (NNS) and A11, the American speaker, is the native speaker. During this argumentative task, the speakers were asked to discuss the following topic: paradoxically, social media makes people more lonely. The topic was written on a little piece of paper, and the non-native speaker first read it out loud before discussing it with her partner.

  • 2 The transcription conventions of the (dis)fluencies are taken from the CHAT manual, described in th (...)

16Sequence (A) Verbatim transcription2

37 *NNS: (0.900) everybody saw &um [/] saw you in this tv show so they can't have &um (1.250) <tongue-click> &um (2.160) <inbreath> I don't know how the word &uh (1.490) they can't trust on you.
38 *NS: +< ok.
39 *NNS: on you:ur &um (0.510) [/] on you +/.
40 *NS: +< &uh reliance.
41 *NNS: yeah &relia(nce) [//] on you:ur (0.400) capabilities [/] on you:ur (0.920) &=sighs &oh [/] on your &mm &ah my words! &=laughs.
42 *NS: +< yeah &=smiles.
43 *NNS: on you:ur &uh (0.680) motivation to [/] to work.
44 *NS: ok.
45 *NNS: because you [/] you [/] you go to tv show and you say +* &oh what &a(ll) [//] all I want is to [/] to have my swimming pool etc.+*
46 *NS: +< yeah.
47 *NS: &o(ne) +//.
48 *NS: I agree.
49 *NS: one thing though is I think they're asking about like facebook.
50 *NNS: +< yeah lonely so lonely so +/.
51 *NS: +<they're asking about like &face [/] they're asking about facebook and twitter and stuff.
52 *NNS: &oh yeah.
53 *NS: so like social media is like (1.150) [/] is like the internet.

17After reading the paper, she decided to speak first and give her opinion. However, it soon becomes clear that she had misunderstood the topic, as she began to talk about reality television shows (which portray individuals in real-life situations on TV), and the people that appeared on them. She started by criticizing them for being very dramatic and very proud on TV, and then pointed out the problems they encounter when the show ends and they have to go on with their lives. The selected sequence (l.37) starts from there. The native speaker has not pronounced a single utterance yet, except for occasional backchanneling, and the non-native speaker seems very engaged and eager to discuss the topic, but has still not realized that it was the wrong one. As it can be seen in the transcription, she experiences several production difficulties as she does not seem to find the right words or expressions. On line 37, she produces a very complex (dis)fluent sequence, made of a series of (dis)fluency markers (filled pause, unfilled pause, tongue click, another very long unfilled pause, inbreath, an explicit editing phrase (Crible 2017)” I don’t know how the word” another filled pause, and an unfilled pause); she even exclaims at some point, line 41 “ah my words”. She thus makes it very clear to her interlocutor that she is having difficulty finding the right words, but that does not stop her from expressing her ideas. It may be the reason why her partner decides not to interrupt her right away, as (dis)fluencies can sometimes be used as a way to keep the floor (Kjellmer, 2003). At some point, however, NS takes part in the interaction (47) (at a transition relevant place, after the end of NNS’ clause), and attempts to shift the topic of conversation and leads her in the right direction. He does so by first pointing towards the piece of paper, as shown in the following illustration:

Figure 2. Example of a deictic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

Figure 2. Example of a deictic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

18When the native speaker produces the deictic gesture directed towards the piece of paper, he also produces a truncated word (&o(ne) and a self-interruption (+//) at the same time. He did not even take the time to produce a full utterance, as he immediately interrupted himself to say I agree. He probably initially meant to tell her upfront that it was not the right topic (which he does in the following utterance one thing though is I think they’re talking about like facebook), but instead he decided to indicate his agreement. He may have carefully chosen not to interrupt her abruptly as to indicate his stance first and be engaged with her in the interaction, which is typical of conversations during which speakers engage in an interactional practice (Kärkkäinen 2006). The (dis)fluent sequence produced here is thus by no means a sign of DISfluency per se, as NS is not experiencing any production difficulty (as opposed to his non-native partner who produces a series of very complex (dis)fluent sequences); it is actually used pragmatically to align with his interlocutor, and to save face (Goffman, 1955). Interrupting her in the midst of her talk to tell her that she was wrong would have threatened his face of an understanding tandem partner.

19A close examination of eye gaze and gesture is also revealing of their interactional practice: when the native speaker first produces the (dis)fluent sequence and the deictic gesture, his gaze is fixed on the piece of paper, but after interrupting himself and indicating his agreement (second picture) he quickly gazes towards his interlocutor, moves his palm and finger upwards, and slightly orients it towards her. This change of orientation offers an additional interactive dimension to the gesture (Bavelas et al. 1992).

20The native speaker thus plays two roles here: he first fulfills the role of a coparticipant in a conversation who is engaged in the interaction, pays attention to what his addressee is saying, makes sure not to interrupt, and displays his stance; but he also plays the role of the native speaker, who has to adapt his speech to the non-native speaker, and to make sure that his interlocutor understands the topic. This illustrates the fact that linguistic abilities are also tightly linked to the different social identities of the speakers, and that the “expert” or “novice” status of the coparticipants are constructed locally within the course of interaction (Pekarek Doehler 2006). In this case, it was both relevant for NS to play the role of the expert native speaker in order to clarify the misunderstanding of the exchange (and he had the authority to do so, as a native speaker) but also to play the role of a cooperative hearer.

21He manages to play the two roles at the same time by relying on several semiotic resources. Instead of verbally asking his interlocutor to give him the piece of paper (which would completely interrupt the course of the conversation) he relies on the deictic gesture, which requires no overt verbalization as the gesture is already semantically transparent (McNeill 1985). He then quickly checks whether the topic was really about social media and gives the paper back to her so that she can read it again. But NNS has still not grasped the meaning of it, as she seems convinced that he gave her back the paper to mention the part where it says that it makes people lonely, so she starts talking about it (line 50). NS then interrupts her, repeats himself, and adds another piece of information related to social media: they’re asking about twitter and facebook and stuff (line 51). NNS finally understands as indicated by her reply &oh yeah (line 52). Then, on line 53, NS produces another (dis)fluent sequence that is made of a fairly long unfilled pause of 1150 milliseconds and a repetition of the discourse marker like. As Fig. 3 shows, the speaker also produces a slight cyclic gesture at the same time as the (dis)fluent sequence and his gaze is fixed on his interlocutor.

Figure 3. Example of a cyclic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

Figure 3. Example of a cyclic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

22Cyclic gestures can sometimes be used during disfluent stretches of talk to encourage an interlocutor to speak (Ladewig 2014), and this may be the case here. Since his gaze is fixed on the interlocutor, and he produces a very long unfilled pause, it may suggest that he is inviting his interlocutor to continue speaking, but this time on the right topic. Once again, the (dis)fluent sequence is not associated with production difficulty, and has a pedagogical dimension. The speaker attempts to construct the meaning around the word social media with his interlocutor, and encourages her to take part in it, or at least to capture her attention (similar to teachers’ gestures; see Tellier 2008) which highlights another potential pedagogic intention.

23This sequence has shown two cases in which meaning had to be readjusted and elaborated by the native speaker in order to ensure continuity in the discourse and between the two participants. This process of readjustment was first initiated by the deictic gesture, and then by a cyclic gesture which co-occurred with a (dis)fluent sequence, stressing the interactional dimension of (dis)fluencies. Moreover, these gestures also expressed the pedagogical intention of the native speaker, whose purpose was to overcome the misunderstanding in the conversation. In fact, some studies have suggested that in native/non- native interactions, native speakers use numerous deictic gestures to facilitate comprehension, promote communication and overcome inadequacies in the conversation (see Adams 1998 for a review). Studies in SLA have also pointed out the use of referential gestures (or iconics) by native speakers and non-native speakers, (Gullberg 2014; Adams, 1998; Stam 2001) which will be discussed in the second qualitative analysis.

Constructing meaning in tandem through parallel gesturing

24Sequence (B) Verbatim transcription

39 *NNS: ça c'est &m(on) mo:on &av [//] opinion.
40 *NS: bah moi j(e) suis d'accord &=rire.
41 *NNS: oui ? &=rire.
42 *NS: si [/] si.
43 *NS: nan [/] nan l'adolescence &euh (1.320) y'a [//] t'as plein de boutons déjà &=laughs.
44 *NNS: &ah oui &=rire.
45 *NS: nan +//.
46 *NS: oui mais t'a:as [//] tu [/] tu découvres plein de choses &euh le:es [/] les gens sont +/.
47 *NNS: +< oui.
48 *NNS: +< les hormones.
49 *NS: les hormones &=rire tout à fait.
50 *NS: c'est [/] c'est très problématique.
51 *NNS: toujours raison de:e &=rire +/.
52 *NS: oui t'as des [/] des hauts et des bas &euh les gens deviennent gentils deviennent méchants.
53 *NNS: &ah oui.
54 *NS: ils te:e +/.
55 *NNS: oui c'est [/] c'est horrible.
56 *NS: &s c'est [/] c'e:est un passage difficile entre le monde des bisounours le monde des enfants et le monde des adultes.
57 *NNS: &ah oui.

39 *NNS: that’s &m(y) my:y & adv[//] opinion.
40 *NS: well I agree &=laughs.
41 *NNS: you do? &=laughs.
42 *NS: yes [/] yes.
43 *NS: no [/] no teenage years &uh (1.320) there are [//] first you have a lot of pimples &=laughs.
44 *NNS: &oh yeah &=laughs.
45 *NS: no +//.
46 *NS: yeah and you:u [//] you [/] you discover a lot of things &uh the:e [/] the people are +/.
47 *NNS: +< yeah
48 *NNS: +< hormones.
49 *NS: hormones &=laughs totally.
50 *NS: it’s [/] it’s very problematic.
51 *NNS: there’s always a reason fo:or &=laughs +/.
52 *NS: yes you have ups [/] ups and downs &uh people are nice then they’re mean.
53 *NNS: &oh yeah.
54 *NS: they do:o +/.
55 *NNS: yeah it’s [/] it’s horrible.
56 *NS: &s it’s [/] a difficult transition between the fairytale world for children, and the adult world.
57 *NNS: &oh yeah.

25This sequence is taken from the interaction in French, during which the speakers reversed their roles: this time the French speaker is the native speaker, and the American one the non-native speaker. For this task, they were asked to talk about l’adolescence, la période la plus heureuse de la vie ?/ adolescence, the happiest days of your life? Similarly to their exchange in English, the non-native speaker started the conversation by giving his opinion. He first pointed out that adolescence was definitely not the happiest time of his life for many reasons, and finished by overtly indicating his stance, line 39 that’s my opinion, showing that what he has just said must be considered as personal opinion, not fact. This is where the selected sequence begins. This context is very different from Sequence (A) as the two speakers very much agree with one another and finish each other’s sentences, which illustrates cases of joint sentence production (Sacks 1992) and dialogic syntax, (Du Bois 2007), which is again typical of face-to-face spoken interactions. At some point in the interaction (line 51), the speaker produces a simple (dis)fluency, a prolongation (fo:or) and starts laughing; but he also produces a wave-like gesture at the same time, as shown in Fig. 4:

Figure 4. Example of a referential gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

Figure 4. Example of a referential gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence

26Once again, the non-native speaker relies on several semiotic resources to construct meaning. Instead of verbally expressing the notion of ups and downs, which his partner does right after (line 52), he produces a referential gesture that conveys the meaning related to this notion. He may have done it for several reasons: (1) he is experiencing lexical difficulties and needs to rely on a referential gesture to compensate for this lexical deficit, which would be an example of a communication strategy (Gullberg 2011); (2) He is eliciting lexical help from the interlocutor (Gullberg 2014), and thus inviting his interlocutor to take part in the joint word search (Goodwin & Goodwin 1986). These two explanations could apply, but what happens right after could provide a good indication of his initial intention. As illustrated in Fig. 5, the native speaker finishes her partner’s sentence and verbally expresses the notion of ups and downs (l.52), but she also repeats his wave-like gesture before he finished producing it, and the two speakers both gaze at each other during this moment.

Figure 5. Mutual gaze and repetition of gestures

Figure 5. Mutual gaze and repetition of gestures

27All of these elements thus illustrate another case of co-construction, but this time with no readjustment (Sequence A). Both speakers jointly deployed speech, gaze and referential gestures in tandem. Gaze plays a key role in this example. When NNS initially produced his referential gesture (Fig. 4) he did not look back at his interlocutor to signal that he was in trouble, but he kept looking at his gesture instead. Then, NS produced a similar wave-like gesture, but not to assist him or help him, but rather to take part in the co-construction. And when they produced the same gesture in tandem, they also gazed at each other. This could be related to the notion of interactional synchrony (Wallbott 1995) where we find social congruence and a sense of co-operation, and it also shows a case of parallel gesturing (Graziano et al., 2011) where speakers repeat each other’s gestures. This is also shown in the tokens of agreement found throughout the interaction (&oh yeah, yes). As opposed to the previous sequence, where the interaction was potentially in danger because of the misunderstanding, here the coparticipants are perfectly aligned with each other. However, it is still possible that the non-native speaker did not know the word for ups and downs, which could be the reason why he produced the referential gesture, but it was not deemed relevant in this context, because he did not overtly seek help from his interlocutor. He may have intentionally chosen to use a gesture which is more expressive and has more visual properties to convey the meaning of ups and downs; in any case this was found to be successful as his interlocutor repeated the same gesture and later elaborated on the meaning (transition between the fairytale world for children, and the adult world.). Therefore, the meaning around ups and downs was co-constructed in tandem, and this activity reinforced the mutual understanding of the two speakers.

28The native and non-native roles were less strictly defined in this case (as opposed to Sequence A), but the speakers both shared a similar pedagogical intention and they used referential gestures in order to be understood. This stresses the idea that pedagogical gestures (Tellier, 2008) can be used outside the class environment to serve pedagogical purposes (secondary didacticity), and that they can show different degrees of didacticity (Azaoui 2015) depending on the pedagogical intention, the context, the type of gesture, and the direction of gaze. The two examples examined above illustrate this point. In Sequence (A), the deictic and the cyclic gesture used by NS conveyed a stronger pedagogical intention in the sense that he wanted to overcome his partner’s misunderstanding of the topic by directing her attention to the piece of paper, and then by inviting her to elaborate on the meaning of social media. In Sequence (B), the referential gestures used by the two speakers reinforced their mutual understanding, but NS still elaborated on the meaning of the referential gesture by verbalizing it (ups and downs), which may show that she still intended to take part in the co-construction of the expression. This type of intention can still be considered pedagogical, but to a lesser extent than NS’s in Sequence A.

Conclusion

29These two qualitative analyses conducted on French and English tandem semi-spontaneous interactions have illustrated the fact that (dis)fluencies do not only arise when speakers are uncertain or experiencing production difficulty (self-oriented), but when speakers are engaged in interactional practices such as eliciting words from a partner or display a stance (other-oriented). This highlights the functional ambivalence of (dis)fluencies captured in situated discourse and the fact that they can contribute to the unfolding of local activities such as joint lexical searches. In this sense, (dis)fluencies should no longer be solely seen as disturbances, but as genuine markers of communicative fluency. The degree of DISfluency found in those markers is neither fixed nor systematic and is highly determined by their context of use, as well as their visual-gestural features. Since (dis)fluencies carry very little semantic or pragmatic information, their accompanying gestures can help determine their degree of contribution to the interaction, whether they are more self-oriented or other-oriented. The notions of secondary didacticity and pedagogical intention explored in our analyses have shown to be key elements in the understanding of (dis)fluency in tandem interactions. Such interactions can thus be considered pedagogical in the sense that native and non-native speakers resort to several strategies to make themselves understood, or to help their partner with their production. The pedagogical intentions of the speakers can be manifested in different ways according to the context, as it may be deemed relevant for some participants to act upon their “expert” status to correct their non-native partner when the interaction was potentially in danger (as exemplified in excerpt A), or on the other hand to display their affiliation and alignment without necessarily correcting them (in excerpt B). This was further exemplified in the close examination of the different gestures (pragmatic cyclic gestures, referential gestures, and deictic gestures) mobilized during (dis)fluencies. Our qualitative analyses have focused on the multimodal use of (dis)fluencies within contexts of co-construction and have thus shown that native and non-native speakers rely on several semiotic resources, both verbal and non-verbal, to construct meaning in discourse. This underlines the multimodal dimension of spoken interactions, and the tight link between speech and gesture production. Gesture and eye gaze were shown to be essential features when analyzing tandem interactions as they truly contributed to the co-construction of meaning (Kendon 2004; Goodwin 2017). However, this paper is only based on two excerpts of the corpus, and the analysis of gaze and gesture in relation to the notion of pedagogical intention could be further explored in the whole data to see if these results could be generalized.

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Annexe

Transcription conventions (adapted from the CHAT manual)

&= in front of filled pauses, interjections, non-lexical sounds, and truncated words
+/ =interruption by other participant
+//= self-interruption
[/] =word repetition
[//] =self repair
() =unfilled pause (number in milliseconds)
: = prolongation
&=laughs, &=sighs = simple events
+< = overlap

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Notes

1 Sylwia Scheuer, who collected the SITAF corpus with Céline Horgues, actually pointed out during a seminar that A11 and F11 were a really engaging pair and that they were perfect for the analysis of corrective feedback (Debras et al. 2015)

2 The transcription conventions of the (dis)fluencies are taken from the CHAT manual, described in the Appendix.

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Table des illustrations

URL http://journals.openedition.org/tipa/docannexe/image/3567/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 291k
Titre Figure 2. Example of a deictic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence
URL http://journals.openedition.org/tipa/docannexe/image/3567/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 279k
Titre Figure 3. Example of a cyclic gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence
URL http://journals.openedition.org/tipa/docannexe/image/3567/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 177k
Titre Figure 4. Example of a referential gesture during a (dis)fluent sequence
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Fichier image/png, 335k
Titre Figure 5. Mutual gaze and repetition of gestures
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Fichier image/png, 112k
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Référence électronique

Loulou Kosmala, « (Dis)fluencies and their contribution to the co-construction of meaning in native and non-native tandem interactions of French and English  »TIPA. Travaux interdisciplinaires sur la parole et le langage [En ligne], 36 | 2020, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2020, consulté le 07 mars 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/tipa/3567 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/tipa.3567

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Auteur

Loulou Kosmala

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3
loulou.kosmala@sorbonne-nouvelle.fr

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