, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 395-400

Confrontation in conversations: The adjacency pair as a tool of the descriptive component of a Pragma-dialectical analysis

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Abstract

Within the Pragma-Dialectical School of argumentation theory both a normative and a descriptive component are essential in order to account for a reconstruction of argumentative language use. This paper concentrates on the descriptive component and discusses the choice of the adjacency pair as a tool for the systematic description of the confrontation stage of argumentative conversations. First a structural description of confrontation in conversation is developed from the discourse analytical approach to argumentation of Jackson and Jacobs, within the normative frame of the theory of argumentation of Van Eemeren and Grootendorst. Then the pro's and con's of the adjacency pair model for the analysis of conversation in general and for that of argumentative conversation in particular are discussed. Where the adjacency pair fails, alternative models like Edmondson's model for the analysis of spoken discourse (1981) are examined. Finally the description of confrontation in conversations in terms of the adjacency pair is shown to be in line with the rational model for describing the pragmatic aspects of conversational coherence proposed by Jackson and Jacobs in 1983 and with their current thinking on the status of adjacency pairs (1987). For the elaboration of Jackson and Jacobs' sketch of a rational model of conversational coherence the use of notions from Edmondson's model of interactional analysis is recommended.