Publication details [#62296]

Riou, Marine. 2017. Transitioning to a new topic in American English conversation: A multi-level and mixed-methods account. Journal of Pragmatics 117 : 88–105.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher


This article proposes a holistic assay of topic transition design in spontaneous conversation by uniting qualitative analysis, instrumental prosody, and statistical modeling. To explore the grammatical patterns that participants routinely use for their turns initiating topic transitions, three types of cues are considered: pitch register, discourse markers, and questions. Each type of cue is assayed for its individual contribution to topic transition design, as well as for the way it can combine with other cues. Exploring distinct types of cues – verbal and prosodic – causes a complex picture of the diverse ways in which the topic trajectory of a conversation molds its grammar – including its prosody.