Joke first
: Multiple responses to first pair parts

  • Matthew Butler

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In this paper I use Conversation Analysis (CA) to investigate a collection of sequences that contain a puzzling interactional phenomenon that has not previously been reported on by analysts. When responding to a first pair part, we will observe how speakers produce two mutually exclusive responses rather than one sequentially relevant and fitted response. The two responses are produced in succession of one another yet contrast in design: the initial response is designed to be hearable as being playful with nonserious elements of interaction being present (Glenn, 2003), while the additional response is designed to be hearable as serious. Interestingly, the initial responses produced by speakers are recurrently followed by a return to serious talk (Schegloff, 2001) and may be viewed as being a momentary episode of nonseriousness. However, this paper demonstrates that the phenomenon is in fact a multifaceted and cohesive interactional device that has purpose in interaction. It is shown how speakers use their initial response as an opportunity to generate a tease (Drew, 1987) and challenge an assumption built into prior talk before producing an additional response. I use a corpus of interactions made up of informal talk, broadcast news interviews and medical interactions to capture the ubiquity of this phenomenon across a range of interactional settings where I explore its design and social action.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorElizabeth Holt (Main Supervisor)

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