Conversation Analysis

Conversation Analysis

Conversation Analysis research explores the moment-by-moment organisation of human interaction. Over the last 50 years, conversation analysts have generated new knowledge on the ways that people use language and other semiotic resources (e.g., gesture, gaze, objects) to regulate their interactions. The interactional systems described by conversation analysts are an important form of infrastructure for human social life. Conversation Analysis research has, therefore, been influential for recent theoretical and methodological developments in research on language, cognition, and social organisation, and generated the field of Interactional Linguistics.

Areas of interest

  • Turn-taking organisation
  • Repair organisation
  • Australian languages
  • Communication disorders

Current projects

Conversational interaction in Aboriginal and remote Australia

Dr Joe Blythe, A/Prof. Ilana Mushin, Prof. Lesley Stirling, A/Prof. Rod Gardner

This project aims to re-examine claims that Aboriginal Australians conduct conversations in different ways to Anglo-Australians. It will investigate and compare ordinary conversations in these groups on a large scale. The project expects to provide new evidence to explicate Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal conversational norms, pinpointing differences which may lead to intercultural miscommunication. Expected outcomes include endangered language documentation, and evidence-based findings to disseminate to service providers, to communities and to Aboriginal organisations to improve ways of engaging with each other. In addition, the project will benefit Aboriginal communities with new approaches to language revitalisation. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant Scheme and is a part of the CIARA project.

Right hemisphere damage and everyday conversation

Dr Scott Barnes, Prof. Lyndsey Nickels, Dr Suzanne Beeke, Dr Steven Bloch, Prof. Wendy Best

Damage to the right hemisphere of the brain can substantially impact cognition and communication. There is very little empirical evidence on how these (and other) cognitive impairments affect everyday conversation for people who have experienced right hemisphere damage (e.g., stroke, traumatic brain injury). This project is exploring how right hemisphere damage changes conversation, with a view to improved speech pathology diagnosis and intervention for people with right hemisphere damage. This project is funded by the Macquarie University Research Development Grant Scheme.

Aphasia, correction, and micro-collaboration

Dr Scott Barnes, Francesco Possemato

Interactions involving people with aphasia involve extended periods of collaborative repair. A striking example of this is persistent cueing and correction in everyday conversation. This project addresses the linguistic and multimodal practices that interactants implement in order to enter, sustain, and exit engagement with this type of repair. It also explores the relational implications of persistent attention to talk at this level of granularity, focusing on the moral properties of talk as a semiotic resource. The findings of this project will offer novel information about how aphasia affects everyday life, and explore how a technical analysis of the internal dynamics of turns in conversation can be employed in aphasia rehabilitation.

Verbosity and traumatic brain injury

Dr Scott Barnes, Janine Mullay, Jason Bransby, Christine Taylor

People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury experience diverse and variable problems for communication. One symptom experienced by people with traumatic brain injury is verbosity (i.e., over-talkativeness). This project will examine verbosity as a disruption to the turn-taking system for conversation. Specifying the nature of verbosity, and the behaviours associated with it, will be valuable for diagnosing the presence and severity of verbosity following traumatic brain injury, and designing speech pathology assessment and intervention strategies targeting it.

Turn-taking in Bahasa Indonesia: A study of typical and atypical interactions

Fakry Hamdani, Dr Scott Barnes, Dr Joe Blythe

Bahasa Indonesia is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. It is derived from Malay, and is the official language of Indonesia. There is sound evidence that aspects of turn-taking are universal across the world’s languages and cultures, but there is little empirical evidence relating to turn-taking in Bahasa Indonesia. The findings of this study will generate new knowledge about Bahasa Indonesia, the relationship between language and turn-taking, and universal aspects of turn-taking in conversation.

Our People

Academic staff

Dr Scott Barnes
Dr Joe Blythe

Research officers

Francesco Possemato (CIARA project)

Current research students

Eman Alharbi (MRes)

Jie Chen
PhD Thesis Title: Giving information and stance-taking: Managing epistemics and action in sales interactions
Supervisors: Dr. Scott Barnes and Dr. Joe Blythe

Josua Dahmen
PhD Thesis Title: Conversational structures in Jaru interaction
Supervisors: Dr. Joe Blythe and Dr. Scott Barnes

Caroline de Dear
PhD Thesis Title: A multimodal perspective on questions and answers in Gija conversation
Supervisors: Dr. Joe Blythe and Dr. Scott Barnes

Fakry Hamdani 
PhD Thesis Title: Next speaker selection in Indonesian: A study of typical and atypical interactions
Supervisors: Dr. Scott Barnes and Dr. Joe Blythe

Benjamin Ong (PhD, via USYD)

Natalie Skinner
MRes Thesis Title: Talk and embodiment in same turn self-repair
Supervisors: Dr. Scott Barnes and Dr. Joe Blythe


Dr Suzanne Beeke (UCL); Dr Steven Bloch (UCL); Prof. Niels Buus (USYD); Prof. Nick Enfield (USYD); A/Prof. Rod Gardner (UQ); A/Prof. Ilana Mushin (UQ); Prof. Lesley Stirling (U Melb); Dr Sarah White (MQ)

Contact Us

For further information about Conversation Analysis research in the Department of Linguistics, or to enquire about research supervision in this area, please contact Dr Scott Barnes.

If you’d like to be involved in the Conversation Analysis community in Sydney, please also contact Dr Scott Barnes for information about data sessions and reading groups.

Content owner: Department of Linguistics Last updated: 06 Jul 2020 2:07pm

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