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In asserting this as a fundamental feature of conversation, we are not ignoring the fact that gaps, overlaps and silence often do occur (Beattie,1978). Further, it can be shown that gaps, overlaps and more than one at a time are violations in two serious senses.


For example, we now all realize that the speaker who says "It's me" is not violating a rule of English by which he should say, "It's I." Rather, the mistake belongs to the grammarian who calls it an error.
Speaker transition without gap or overlap is a feature of the social organization of conversation, achieved always then and there. For example, participants do not retrospectively attain it by editing their memory of a conversation. They do not, in the first instance, go outside the conversation in order to report violations to referees, policemen, oracles, etc., in the hope that external agencies will punish the violators. There is, then, a social organization to turn-taking which has as one of its proper products that one person talks at a time: Achieving this product requires participants to encounter and solve at least two tasks: the collaborative location of transition points, and the collaborative use of means for arriving at who speaks after any current speaker (Beattie, 1983). These are tasks which, on the situated occasions of their solution, are tasks of understanding. And participants so interpret them. They take failing to talk when one has been selected to and another stops as evidence of failing to understand what has been said.
The specific kinds of understanding required for achieving proper turn-taking are determined by how turn-taking is sociall ...
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