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Saving Face and Atrocities: Sequence Expansions and Indirectness in Television Interviews


This article addresses the conversational process taking place during a TV interview in which the contrast shows up between the canonical procedure overseeing the succession and nature of conversational roles and turn-takings in contemporary media contexts and the preservation of an atavistic attitude tied to a traditional culture, Albanian tradition of oda. The discourse in these chambers is a revered phenomenon in the Albanian culture. The interviewee uses the traditional code of oral communication in the oda as a strategy for saving his honour in public, while the interviewer uses another code, the language of investigative journalism. In this paper, a detailed analysis of this interview shows how the sequences built on a basic adjacency pair operate to allow the interviewee to attempt to save face in a compromising situation. We see how the oda structures override normal turn-taking rules and how the face-work process (Goffman Interaction ritual. Essays on the face-to-face behavior, Doubleday, New York, 1967) is reflected in expanded sequences. We consider this topic as an extension of a potential CA analysis when describing how cultural forms with different procedural rules affect general turn-taking.

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  1. The Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini is a written set of traditional Albanian laws that has been used in northern and central Albania, Kosovo, and surrounding areas with large ethnic Albanian populations (such as Montenegro and Macedonia). It was first codified in the fifteenth century, but was actually in use much earlier. The Kanun is the most famous and comprehensive compilation of Albanian customary laws. It was initially an unwritten code of law that, for centuries, strictly governed social behavior and everyday life in almost all Albanian settlements. The Kanun has had a profound influence on Albanian culture and civil law, and even though the Kanun is not legally binding today, it is widely respected and still practiced in modified form in parts of Albania and Kosovo (Trnavci 2010: 201f.; Elsie 2011: 151).


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Correspondence to Majlinda Bregasi.

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Bregasi, M. Saving Face and Atrocities: Sequence Expansions and Indirectness in Television Interviews. Hum Stud 43, 89–106 (2020).

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  • Conversation analysis
  • Adjacency pairs
  • Television interview
  • Sequential organization
  • Thick description
  • Political discourse
  • Albanian language