In everyday joint activities (e.g. playing cards, preparing potatoes, collecting empty plates), participants often request others to pass, move or otherwise deploy objects. In order to get these objects to or from the requestee, requesters need to manipulate them, for example by holding them out, reaching for them, or placing them somewhere. As they perform these manual actions, requesters may or may not accompany them with language (e.g. Take this potato and cut it or Pass me your plate). This study shows that adding or omitting language in the design of a request is influenced in the first place by a criterion of recognition. When the requested action is projectable from the advancement of an activity, presenting a relevant object to the requestee is enough for them to understand what to do; when, on the other hand, the requested action is occasioned by a contingent development of the activity, requesters use language to specify what the requestee should do. This criterion operates alongside a perceptual criterion, to do with the affordances of the visual and auditory modalities. When the requested action is projectable but the requestee is not visually attending to the requester’s manual behaviour, the requester can use just enough language to attract the requestee’s attention and secure immediate recipiency. This study contributes to a line of research concerned with the organisation of verbal and nonverbal resources for requesting. Focussing on situations in which language is not – or only minimally – used, it demonstrates the role played by visible bodily behaviour and by the structure of everyday activities in the formation and understanding of requests.
1979Order in Court: The Organisation of Verbal Interaction in Judicial Settings. London: Macmillan.
Benjamin, Trevor M
2013 “Signaling Trouble: On the linguistic design of other-initiation of repair in English conversation.” PhD dissertation, University of Groningen.
Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House, and Gabriele Kasper
1989Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood: Ablex.
Butterworth, George, and Edward Cochran
1980“Towards a Mechanism of Joint Visual Attention in Human Infancy.”International Journal of Behavioral Development 3 (3): 253–272.
2010“Shepherding the Child: Embodied Directive Sequences in Parent–child Interactions.”Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies 30 (1): 1–25.
Clark, Herbert H
1996Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clark, Herbert H
2003“Pointing and Placing.” In Pointing: Where Language, Culture, and Cognition Meet, ed. by Sotaro Kita, 243–268. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Clark, Herbert H., and Deanna Wilkes-Gibbs
1986“Referring as a Collaborative Process.”Cognition 22 (1): 1–39.
Craven, Alexandra, and Jonathan Potter
2010“Directives: Entitlement and Contingency in Action.”Discourse Studies 12 (4): 419–442.
Curl, Traci S., and Paul Drew
2008“Contingency and Action: A Comparison of Two Forms of Requesting.”Research on Language & Social Interaction 41 (2): 129–153.
Dausendschön-Gay, Ulrich, and Ulrich Krafft
2009“Preparing Next Actions in Routine Activities.”Discourse Processes 46 (2–3): 247–268.
De Jorio, Andrea
1832La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano [Gestural expression of the ancients in the light of Neapolitan gesturing]. Dalla stamperia e cartiera del Fibreno.
2005 “Conversation analysis”. In Handbook of Language and Social Interaction, edited by Kristine L. Fitch and Robert E. Sanders, 71–102. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
1976“Movements with Precise Meanings.”Journal of Communication 26 (3): 14–26.
2008“Common Ground as a Resource for Social Affiliation.” In Intention, Common Ground and the Egocentric Speaker-Hearer, ed. by Istvan Kecskes, and Jacob L. Mey, 223–254. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
2009The Anatomy of Meaning: Speech, Gesture, and Composite Utterances. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2013Relationship Thinking: Enchrony, Agency and Human Sociality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Enfield, N.J., and Tanya Stivers
(eds)2007Person Reference in Interaction: Linguistic, Cultural and Social Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1998“Not Channels but Composite Signals: Speech, Gesture, Diagrams and Object Demonstrations are Integrated in Multimodal Explanations.” In Proceedings of the 20th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, ed. by Morton Ann Gernsbacher, and Sharon J. Derry, 321–327. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ford, Cecilia E., Sandra A. Thompson, and Veronika Drake
2012“Bodily-Visual Practices and Turn Continuation.”Discourse Processes 49 (3–4): 192–212.
Galeano, Giorgia, and Alessandra Fasulo
2009 “Sequenze direttive tra genitori e figli [Directive sequences between parents and children].” Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa 2: 261–78.
Gibson, James Jerome
1979The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
1963Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: The Free Press.
2000“Action and Embodiment within Situated Human Interaction.”Journal of Pragmatics 32 (10): 1489–1522.
Goodwin, Marjorie Harness
2006“Participation, Affect, and Trajectory in Family Directive/response Sequences.”Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse Communication Studies 26 (4–5): 515–543.
Grice, H. Paul
1975“Logic and Conversation.” In Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3, ed. by P. Cole, and J. Morgan, 41–58. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Hayashi, Makoto, Geoffrey Raymond, and Jack Sidnell
eds.2013Conversational Repair and Human Understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2006““Will You or Can’t You?”: Displaying Entitlement in Interrogative Requests.”Journal of Pragmatics 38 (7): 1081–1104.
1984Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Blackwell.
2007“Intersubjectivity and Progressivity in Person (and Place) Reference.” In Person Reference in Interaction: Linguistic, Cultural, and Social Perspectives, ed. by N.J. Enfield, and Tanya Stivers, 255–280. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heritage, John, and Steven Clayman
2010Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Heritage, John, and Marja-Leena Sorjonen
1994“Constituting and Maintaining Activities across Sequences: And-Prefacing as a Feature of Question Design.”Language in Society 23 (1): 1–29.
Kärkkäinen, Elise, and Tiina Keisanen
2012“Linguistic and Embodied Formats for Making (concrete) Offers.”Discourse Studies 14 (5): 587–611.
Keisanen, Tiina, and Mirka Rauniomaa
2012“The Organization of Participation and Contingency in Prebeginnings of Request Sequences.”Research on Language & Social Interaction 45 (4): 323–351.
Kellermann, Kathy, Scott Broetzmann, Tae‐Seop Lim, and Kenji Kitao
1989“The Conversation Mop: Scenes in the Stream of Discourse.”Discourse Processes 12 (1): 27–61.
1985“Some Uses of Gesture.” In Perspectives on Silence, ed. by Deborah Tannen, and Muriel Saville-Troike, 215–234. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
2004Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2011“Directing Dinnertime: Practices and Resources Used by Parents and Children to Deliver and Respond to Directive Actions.” Ph.D. dissertation, Loughborough University.
Kita, Sotaro, Ingeborg van Gijn, and Harry van der Hulst
1998“Movement Phases in Signs and Co-Speech Gestures, and Their Transcription by Human Coders.” In Gesture and Sign Language in Human-Computer Interaction, ed. by Ipke Wachsmuth, and Martin Fröhlich, 23–35. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1371. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
2006“Requests and Responses in Calls for Service.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles.
Lerner, Gene H
1995“Turn Design and the Organization of Participation in Instructional Activities.”Discourse Processes 19 (1): 111–131.
Lerner, Gene H., and Geoffrey Raymond
2008 “Body Trouble: Some Sources of Interactional Trouble and Their Embodied Solution.” Unpublished manuscript.
Levinson, Stephen C
1979“Activity Types and Language.”Linguistics 17 (5–6): 365–400.
Levinson, Stephen C
2000Presumptive Meanings: The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature. >Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Liversedge, Simon, Iain Gilchrist, and Stefan Everling
(eds)2011The Oxford Handbook of Eye Movements. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
1982Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.
(ed.)2000Language and Gesture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2011“The organization of concurrent courses of action in surgical demonstrations”. In Embodied Interaction: Language and the Body in the Material World, edited. by Jürgen Streeck, Charles Goodwin, and Curtis LeBaron, 207–226. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2014“Instructions in the operating room: how the surgeon directs their assistant's hands.” Discourse Studies 16(2):131–161.
2009“Politeness and in-Directness across Cultures: A Comparison of English, German, Polish and Russian Requests.”Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture 5 (2): 189–216.
2013“Giving Reasons for Doing Something Now or at Some Other Time.”Research on Language & Social Interaction 46 (2): 105–124.
2003“Grammar and Social Organization: Yes/no Interrogatives and the Structure of Responding.”American Sociological Review 68 (6): 939–967.
Raymond, Geoffrey, and Gene H. Lerner. ms
Towards a Sociology of the Body in Action: The Body and Its Multiple Commitments.” Unpublished manuscript.
Robinson, Jeffrey David
2013“Overall Structural Organization.” In The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. by Jack Sidnell, and Tanya Stivers, 257–280. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
2000. “Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation.” Language in Society 29(1):1–63.
Schegloff, Emanuel A
2007aSequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schegloff, Emanuel A
2007b“Conveying Who You Are: The Presentation of Self, Strictly Speaking.” In Person Reference in Interaction: Linguistic, Cultural, and Social Perspectives, ed. by N.J. Enfield, and Tanya Stivers, 123–148. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Schegloff, Emanuel A., and Harvey Sacks
1973“Opening Up Closings.”Semiotica 8 (4): 289–327.
Schegloff, Emanuel A., Gail Jefferson, and Harvey Sacks
1977“The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation.” Language 53(2):361–382.
(ed.)2009Conversation Analysis. Comparative Perspectives. Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
2010Conversation Analysis: An Introduction. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Sidnell, Jack, and Tanya Stivers
eds.2013The Handbook of Conversation Analysis. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
2007“Alternative Recognitionals in Initial References to Persons.” In Person Reference in Interaction: Linguistic, Cultural, and Social Perspectives, ed. by N.J. Enfield, and Tanya Stivers, 73–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stivers, Tanya, and Jeffrey David Robinson
2006“A Preference for Progressivity in Interaction.”Language in Society 35 (3): 367–392.
(eds.)2009“Projection and Anticipation in Social Interaction.” Special Issue of Discourse Processes 46 (2–3).
Suchman, Lucy Alice
1987Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Svensson, Marcus Sanchez, Christian Heath, and Paul Luff
2007“Instrumental Action: The Timely Exchange of Implements during Surgical Operations.” In Proceedings of the Tenth European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 24–28 September 2007, Limerick, Ireland, ed. by L. Bannon, I. Wagner, R. Harper, and K. Schmidt, 41–60. Berlin: Springer.
2007“Emotional Labour in Action: Navigating Multiple Involvements in the Beauty Salon.”Sociology 41 (4): 645–662.
Tomasello, Michael, Malinda Carpenter, Josep Call, Tanya Behne, and Henrike Moll
2005“Understanding and Sharing Intentions: The Origins of Cultural Cognition.”Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (5): 675–735.
Tulbert, Eve, and Marjorie Harness Goodwin
2011“Choreographies of Attention: Multimodality in a Routine Family Activity.” In Embodied Interaction: Language and Body in the Material World, ed. by Jürgen Streeck, Charles Goodwin, and Curtis LeBaron, 79–92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vinkhuyzen, Erik, and Margaret H. Szymanski
2005“Would You like to Do It Yourself? Service Requests and Their Non-Granting Responses.” In Applying Conversation Analysis, ed. by Keith Richards, and Paul Seedhouse, 91–106. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wootton, Anthony J
1981“Two Request Forms of Four Year Olds.”Journal of Pragmatics 5 (6): 511–523.
Wootton, Anthony J
1997Interaction and the Development of Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zinken, Jörg, and Eva Ogiermann
2013“Responsibility and Action: Invariants and Diversity in Requests for Objects in British English and Polish Interaction.”Research on Language and Social Interaction 46 (3): 256–276.
Zipf, George Kingsley
1949Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort: An Introduction to Human Ecology. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley Press.
Cited by 21 other publications
Babel, Franziska, Andrea Vogt, Philipp Hock, Johannes Kraus, Florian Angerer, Tina Seufert & Martin Baumann
2022. Step Aside! VR-Based Evaluation of Adaptive Robot Conflict Resolution Strategies for Domestic Service Robots. International Journal of Social Robotics 14:5 ► pp. 1239 ff.
Baranova, Julija & Mark Dingemanse
2016. Reasons for requests. Discourse Studies 18:6 ► pp. 641 ff.
Deppermann, Arnulf & Axel Schmidt
2021. Micro-Sequential Coordination in Early Responses. Discourse Processes 58:4 ► pp. 372 ff.
Enfield, N. J. & Jack Sidnell
2021. Intersubjectivity is activity plus accountability. In The Oxford Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution,
Fox, Barbara A. & Trine Heinemann
2015. The Alignment of Manual and Verbal Displays in Requests for the Repair of an Object. Research on Language and Social Interaction 48:3 ► pp. 342 ff.
Fox, Barbara A. & Trine Heinemann
2021. Are They Requests? An Exploration of Declaratives of Trouble in Service Encounters. Research on Language and Social Interaction 54:1 ► pp. 20 ff.
Gaskins, Dorota & Maria Frick
2023. Embodiment in directive sequences: The case of triadic interactions in a Polish-English bilingual family. International Journal of Bilingualism 27:1 ► pp. 122 ff.
2016. The Recruitment Matrix. Research on Language and Social Interaction 49:1 ► pp. 27 ff.
Holttinen, Tuuli, F. Neveu, G. Bergounioux, M.-H. Côté, J.-M. Fournier, L. Hriba & S. Prévost
2016. Stratégies de requête dans un bureau de tabac et dans son équivalent finlandaisR-kioski. SHS Web of Conferences 27 ► pp. 02007 ff.
Huth, Thorsten, Emma Betz & Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm
2019. Rethinking language teacher training: steps for making talk-in-interaction research accessible to practitioners. Classroom Discourse 10:1 ► pp. 99 ff.
2019. The social organization of assistance in multilingual interaction in Swedish residential care. Discourse Studies 21:1 ► pp. 67 ff.
2018. What Does Embodied Interaction Tell Us About Grammar?. Research on Language and Social Interaction 51:1 ► pp. 1 ff.
Kendrick, Kobin H. & Paul Drew
2016. Recruitment: Offers, Requests, and the Organization of Assistance in Interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction 49:1 ► pp. 1 ff.
Kent, Alexandra & Kobin H. Kendrick
2016. Imperative Directives: Orientations to Accountability. Research on Language and Social Interaction 49:3 ► pp. 272 ff.
2023. Lifting the pen and the gaze: embodied recruitment in collaborative writing. Text & Talk 43:1 ► pp. 69 ff.
2022. Teachers’ gestures for building listening and spoken language skills. Discourse Processes 59:10 ► pp. 771 ff.
Pfeiffer, Martin & Marina Anna
2021. Recruiting Assistance in Early Childhood: Longitudinal Changes in the Use of “Oh+X” as a Way of Reporting Trouble in German. Research on Language and Social Interaction 54:2 ► pp. 142 ff.
Pulles, Maaike , Jan Berenst, Tom Koole & Kees De Glopper
2021. How primary school children address reading problems in dialogic reading. Research on Children and Social Interaction 4:2
Stokoe, Elizabeth & Emma Richardson
2023. Asking for help without asking for help: How victims request and police offer assistance in cases of domestic violence when perpetrators are potentially co-present. Discourse Studies 25:3 ► pp. 383 ff.
2016. Assistance and Other Forms of Cooperative Engagement. Research on Language and Social Interaction 49:1 ► pp. 20 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 12 may 2023. 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.