The Right connections: Acknowledging epistemic progression in talk
It is proposed that the response token Right, in one important use, is a marker of epistemic dependency between two units of talk by a prior speaker, and that this talk has progressed the understanding by the Right producer of a complex activity involving much information transfer. Two other Rights as response tokens are considered: as an epistemic confirmation token similar to That's right, and as a change-of-activity token similar to Alright/Okay. In addition, Right is shown to be different from other response tokens, including the news receipt Oh, newsmarkers such as Really?, and continuers and acknowledgment tokens such as Mm hm and Yeah. The primary data consist of a fully transcribed dietetic consultation in an Australian hospital between a dietician and a client. 1(Received June 29 2005)
(Revised September 18 2006)
(Accepted March 5 2006)
Key Words: response tokens; listener; talk-in-interaction; epistemic token; medical discourse.
1 This article has been evolving for nearly ten years, and I wish to thank numerous members of a range of audiences for their stimulating questions. I also wish to thank four anonymous reviewers whose penetrating questions led to two fairly radical rethinks of the arguments and organization. I would particularly like to thank Keith Abbott, who was in the audience for what I hope was the last oral presentation of this paper. He provided extensive written feedback and really put me on the track of epistemic progression marking as being the best characterization of this response token.