Silence takes on meaning based on the contexts of its occurrence. This is especially true in social interactions: consider the difference between silence after "lemme think," and silence after "will you marry me?" This book examines a particular form of silence, the conversational lapse. These regularly appear in conversations when all interactants pass up the opportunity to speak, and are moments when talk seems to falter or give way to matters extraneous to the conversation. What are these silences for the participants who, by virtue of not speaking, allowed them to develop? Elliott M. Hoey here offers the first in-depth analysis of lapses in conversation. Using methods from Conversation Analysis, the author explores hundreds of lapses in naturally occurring social occasions with each chapter focusing on a different aspect of how participants produce and locate order in lapses. Particular emphasis is given to how lapses emerge, what people do during the silence, and how they restart conversation afterwards. This research uncovers participants' methods for organizing lapses in their everyday affairs such that those silences are rendered as understandable periods of non-talk. By articulating participants' understandings of when and where talk is relevant, necessary, or appropriate, the research brings into focus the borderlines between talk-in-interaction and other realms of social life. This book shows lapses to be a particular and fascinating kind of silence with unique relevancies for the social situations of which they are a part.
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