Implementing incipient actions: The discourse marker 'so' in English conversation

  • Bolden G
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Abstract

The discourse marker 'so' is most commonly described as indexing inferential or causal connections. However, recordings of everyday talk show that these are not its only functions. The article uses the methodology of conversation analysis and examines a large corpus of recorded conversations to explicate the role of 'so' in implementing incipient actions. The analysis focuses on the use of 'so' for prefacing sequence-initiating actions (such as questions) and demonstrates that speakers deploy this preface to indicate the status of the upcoming action as 'emerging from incipiency' rather than being contingent on the immediately preceding talk. 'So' prefacing is recurrently used in contexts where the activity being launched has been relevantly pending. Additionally, speakers can use 'so' to characterize and constitute a particular action as advancing their interactional agenda. The article shows that this marker is a resource for establishing discourse coherence and, more fundamentally, accomplishing understanding. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Conversation analysis
  • Discourse markers

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Authors

  • Galina B. Bolden

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