We’re contributing this talk to Josh Raclaw‘s panel at the AAA 2017 Toward a transdisciplinary coalition in sociocultural linguistics: A collaborative analysis of presidential discourse in Trump’s Black History Month Listening Session. The panel invites scholars from a variety of methodological orientations to address the same bit of data. Our EM/CA-oriented contribution to the panel focuses on the greeting sequences in the first few moments of the meeting.

Presidential addressing

Chase Wesley Raymond & Saul Albert

This paper is designed as a contribution to an inter- and trans-disciplinary panel investigating President Donald Trump’s Black History Month Listening Session. Here we adopt the theory and method of conversation analysis (CA) to examine the first minute of this multiparty interaction—from Trump’s entrance into the room, to the launch of his prepared remarks. Greetings and other phenomena that occur during interactional openings have been widely studied from a conversation-analytic perspective (see, e.g., Schegloff, 1968), and yet here we see them occurring in a very particular institutionalized setting, with very particular participants, and in the presence of an overhearing audience (i.e., at-home viewers). In this paper, our aim is to unpack Trump’s initial interactions with those present in the room: whom does he greet, and in what ways, and how is he greeted in return? Moreover, we ask how these greeting practices contribute to the business of “‘doing being’ president” (cf. Sacks, 1984), and thus we will discuss the various membership categories (Sacks, 1992) that are made relevant in and through these brief introductory exchanges. Our analysis therefore offers insights not only into this specific individual’s interactional style and this particular setting, but also into how greetings operate more broadly in multiparty discourse of this sort. 

References

  • Schegloff, E. A. (1968). Sequencing in Conversational Openings. American Anthropologist, 70(6), 1075–1095. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1968.70.6.02a00030
  • Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on Conversation,(Ed.) G Jefferson, introduction by E. Schegloff, 2 vols. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Sacks, H. (1984). On doing “being ordinary.” In J. Heritage & J. M. Atkinson, J. Heritage & J. M. Atkinson (Eds.), Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 413–429). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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