The Conversational Discourse Unit: Identification and Its Role in Conversational Turn-taking Management
Keywords:discourse segmentation, discourse unit, corpus analysis, pragmatic unit, turn-taking
This study investigates how discourse segmentation and turn-taking interact. Mapping syntactic, prosodic and pragmatic units, five types of conversational discourse units (CDU) were identified. Based on this segmentation, associations were examined between the syntactic, prosodic and pragmatic boundaries and turn-taking, as well as the transition speed after each type of CDU. Results show: 1) The relationships between the three linguistic boundaries and the occurrence of turn-taking were significant, and the association was the strongest for the pragmatic boundaries; it was weaker for prosodic boundaries and the weakest for the syntactic boundaries. 2) The type of CDU influenced the transition speed, with the pragmatic-syntax-bound CDU being fastest. The study highlights the importance of meaning-connection and earlier emergence of the utterance gist in timing turn-taking.