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Repair in Web-based Conversation: A Case of Chinese Academic Discussion

By Ruowei Robin Yang

Abstract

This study examines Web-based conversation, focusing on Chinese academic discussion, from a Conversation Analysis (CA) perspective. The research investigates repair in asynchronous talk-in-interaction on the Web and compares this with repair in ordinary conversation in English, as analysed by Schegloff et al. (1977). It also explores the reasons for any differences which arise from the setting in which this study takes place.\ud The research analyses naturally occurring written interaction on Web-based discussion boards from two education courses offered by the Open University of Hong Kong. Over 4,000 po stings, with nearly half a million Chinese characters, which were contributed by 400 participants were captured and analysed.\ud The study adds fresh data to existing CA work on repair and talk-in-interaction, and provides new information about how repair is organized in asynchronous conversation in Chinese through the Web - an area in which very limited work has been carried out to date. The research shows that repair systems exist in Web-based conversation and that, while the basic possible structures for repair are the same as in ordinary conversation, some operations in the system are different. Seven forms of initiation techniques for repair and ten repair patterns in Web-based conversation are identified and exemplified. The analysis of 351 instances of repair shows that the majority (63.2%) are other-repairs, which demonstrates that preferences in repair in Web-based academic discussions are very different from those which have been proposed for ordinary conversation.\ud The study deals with three external factors that have an impact on repair in Web-based conversation, namely the medium of the Web, asynchronous interaction, and the written form of language use, of which the first is the central, as the latter two are determined by it.\ud The study concludes by discussing some possible implications of the findings for distance learning and teaching, and also for developing technology for human communication through the Internet, in particular the Web

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8827

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