Macquarie University
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Turn permeability and cognitive-communication disorders

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:14 authored by Natalie Skinner
Cognitive-communication disorders are characterised by impairments to attention, memory and/or executive functioning, impacting inferencing, discourse and pragmatics. Research and clinical findings indicate that social interaction is problematic in this population, but few studies have empirically explored everyday conversations. Turn-taking in conversation has a well-established body of research in typical populations, with turn permeation (i.e., points where the initial speaker's turn is incomplete when the recipient begins to talk) revealing the complex intricacies of the turn-taking process. Exploration of turn permeation in conversations with people who have cognitive-communication disorders may provide a sensitive means to uncover problematic aspects of interaction that have proven difficult to explore through quantitative and experimental studies to date. Utilizing qualitative collection-based conversation analytic methods, this study explores turn permeability with three participants with a cognitive-communication disorder, in everyday conversations with their familiar communication partners. Three separate conversations (two triadic, one dyadic), each approximately 50 minutes, were audio and video recorded. 45 instances in which a participant's turn at talk was permeated were identified and analysed. These analyses show that aspects of turn design accomplishing next-speaker selection between turns are also relevant for managing participation within turns. This enables speakers to invite participation in a turn in progress, or may enable recipients to participate without invitation. Whether participation is invited influences the social actions accomplished through turn permeation. Participants with a cognitive-communication disorder engage in turn permeation in ways largely consistent with typical participants. Sporadic and heterogeneous atypicalities were noted, suggesting a possible tendency for participants with cognitive-communication disorders to misread the current action. Additionally, conduct following instances of permeation evaluates or ratifies the permeating talk. This conduct is shown to play a role in promoting progressivity and adapting to unusual moments in interaction. These findings contribute to knowledge of turn-taking, and offer potential areas for future research on its applications to assessment and intervention for people with a cognitive-communication disorder.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Method -- 3. Permeation phases -- 4. Projecting and managing participation -- 5. Action formation -- 6. Turn permeability and cognitive-communication disorders -- 7. Discussion -- 8. References -- 9. Appendix A: Symbols for gaze orientation -- 10. Appendix B: Ethics approval.


Bibliography: pages 119-133 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Scott Byrnes

Additional Supervisor 1

Joe Blythe


Copyright Natalie Skinner 2020. Copyright disclaimer:




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