Talk and Practical Epistemology

The social life of knowledge in a Caribbean community

| University of Toronto
ISBN 9789027253859 | EUR 115.00 | USD 173.00
ISBN 9789027294098 | EUR 115.00 | USD 173.00
Drawing on the methods of conversation analysis and ethnography, this book sets out to examine the epistemological practices of Indo-Guyanese villagers as these are revealed in their talk and daily conduct. Based on over eighty-five hours of conversation recorded during twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, the book describes both the social distribution of knowledge and the villagers' methods for distinguishing between fact and fancy, knowledge and belief through close analyses of particular encounters. The various chapters consider uncertainty and expertise in advice-giving, the cultivation of ignorance in an attempt to avoid scandal, and the organization of peer groups through the display of knowledge in the activity of reminiscing local history. An orienting chapter on questions and an appendix provide an introduction to conversation analysis. The book makes a contribution to linguistic anthropology, conversation analysis and cross-cultural pragmatics. The conclusion discusses the implications of the analysis for current understanding of practice, knowledge and social organization in anthropology and neighboring disciplines.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 142]  2005.  xvi, 255 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This book demonstrates conclusively and richly the importance of studying language in particular situations in order to understand the production of meaning. It makes conversation analysis central to any account of practice, and I find this a very bold but well-supported view. An adequate account of human practice is an important goal and one that language scholars and scholars of pragmatics have a lot to contribute to. It's very well written and very erudite. This is an excellent book, which will be of great interest to many anthropologists, linguists, sociologists, communication and language scholars, as well as students of language use.”
“There is much impressive and to be appreciated about this book. Three of its strengths strike this reviewer as especially noteworthy. First, by the last chapter Sidnell has clearly accomplished each of the objectives he set out to achieve. Perhaps most striking among these is the author's utilization of CA and his keen ability to link the insights it offers to topics which are not typically discussed by its practitoiners. Second, the volume includes a generous amount of empirical data: substantial excerpts of spoken discourse and ethnographic information. These come together in a relatively seamless manner, consistently reminding the reader that talk is embedded in and intertwined with its own epistemologies of practice. Third, the book successfully straddles various analytical perspectives. This study establishes its topic by tracking traditional inquiries. It can be said to link, and also to frequently transcend, established perspectives in the study of conversation, narrative, language and gender, sociohistory, identity and performance.”
“The data Sidnell presents, which come from Sidnell's extensive fieldwork in a Guyanese village, are rich and vivid, and Sidnell's analyses of the interaction are elegant and illuminating. In fact, it is worth reading the book just for these analyses.”
“An excellent book that makes a real contribution to a range of fields (linguistic anthropology, ethnography, conversation analysis, the sociology of knowledge, etc.). Among the book's real strengths is its integration of detailed analysis of language structure and the organization of talk with crucial issues in philosophy and ethnography. The detailed analysis is both insightful and substantive, and moreover the issues it raises and demonstrates about the organization of knowledge as practice are very important and original. This is an important, very original book that makes genuine substantive contributions and opens up important topics for discussion in a range of fields.”
Cited by

Cited by 31 other publications

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2021.  In Language, Multimodal Interaction and Transaction [Studies in Chinese Language and Discourse, 14], Crossref logo
Bucholtz, Mary & Kira Hall
2008. All of the above: New coalitions in sociocultural linguistics1. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12:4  pp. 401 ff. Crossref logo
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2013. Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items. PLoS ONE 8:11  pp. e78273 ff. Crossref logo
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2021.  In Language and Social Interaction at Home and School [Dialogue Studies, 32],  pp. 121 ff. Crossref logo
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2021. Conversation and Culture. Annual Review of Anthropology 50:1  pp. 219 ff. Crossref logo
Garrett, Paul B.
2020.  In The International Encyclopedia of Linguistic Anthropology,  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
Hayashi, Makoto
2012. Claiming Uncertainty in Recollection: A Study ofKke-Marked Utterances in Japanese Conversation. Discourse Processes 49:5  pp. 391 ff. Crossref logo
Johnstone, Barbara
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2013. The anthropology of an equation. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3:3  pp. 33 ff. Crossref logo
Kockelman, Paul
2019. Being multiversed in the multiverse. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 9:1  pp. 200 ff. Crossref logo
2008. The poetics of stance: Text-metricality, epistemicity, interaction. Language in Society 37:4  pp. 569 ff. Crossref logo
2008. Repair in membership categorization in French. Language in Society 37:5  pp. 689 ff. Crossref logo
Marques, Joana B. V., Andrew P. Carlin, Miguel Gomes & Ricardo Moutinho
2021. Periodicity and change: Talking about time inside the planetarium dome. Science Education 105:6  pp. 1252 ff. Crossref logo
Mihas, Elena
2016. Language-specific resources in talk: A study of epistemic stance coding in Alto Perené (Arawak) agreements. Discourse Studies 18:2  pp. 165 ff. Crossref logo
Muntigl, Peter & Kwok Tim Choi
2010. Not remembering as a practical epistemic resource in couples therapy. Discourse Studies 12:3  pp. 331 ff. Crossref logo
Pan, Yun
2019. Meaning construction in interactive academic talk. Pragmatics & Cognition 26:2-3  pp. 414 ff. Crossref logo
Raymond, Geoffrey
2018. Which epistemics? Whose conversation analysis?. Discourse Studies 20:1  pp. 57 ff. Crossref logo
Razfar, Aria
2005. Language ideologies in practice: Repair and classroom discourse. Linguistics and Education 16:4  pp. 404 ff. Crossref logo
Rusk, Fredrik, Michaela Pörn & Fritjof Sahlström
2016.  In Open Spaces for Interactions and Learning Diversities,  pp. 151 ff. Crossref logo
San Roque, Lila
2019. Evidentiality. Annual Review of Anthropology 48:1  pp. 353 ff. Crossref logo
Schützeichel, Rainer
2018.  In Handbuch Professionssoziologie [Springer Reference Sozialwissenschaften, ],  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
Sidnell, Jack
2008. Alternate and complementary perspectives on language and social life: The organization of repair in two Caribbean communities1. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12:4  pp. 477 ff. Crossref logo
Sidnell, Jack
2012. Language and gender in the Caribbean. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 27:1  pp. 141 ff. Crossref logo
Sidnell, Jack & N. J. Enfield
2012. Language Diversity and Social Action. Current Anthropology 53:3  pp. 302 ff. Crossref logo
Strahan, Tania & Lesley Stirling
2016. “What the hell was in that wine?”. Narrative Inquiry 26:2  pp. 430 ff. Crossref logo
Tanner, Andrew & Lesley Stirling
2017. The past is a foreign country: disputed memories and telling rights in co-narrated refugee stories. Text & Talk 37:6  pp. 759 ff. Crossref logo
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2016. Ignorance-unmasking questions in the Royal–Sarkozy presidential debate: A resource to claim epistemic authority. Discourse Studies 18:4  pp. 430 ff. Crossref logo
Wirtz, Kristina
2022. Voices in a Sea of History: Why Study Language in the Caribbean. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology Crossref logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 20 april 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata


BIC Subject: HP – Philosophy
BISAC Subject: PHI000000 – PHILOSOPHY / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2005050766 | Marc record