Deng Xudong
Table of contents

When a group of friends are having a conversation together, it is not unusual to find that two or more interlocutors are talking at the same time. Simultaneous speech or overlapping talk occurs not infrequently in casual conversations between social equals, especially between friends. Scholarly interest in the phenomenon of conversational overlap dates back to as early as the 1950s, when psychologists, particularly psychopathologists began to shift their attention from the individual to the interpersonal context, with a focus on interaction processes (Jacob 1975). Since then, researchers have tried to determine its conversational functions as well as its dispositional and social meanings. But different researchers have used the term differently with a different coverage and a different classification system. The indexical meanings of overlap have also been exploited for the examination of personality, gender and cultural differences. In this paper, overlap is used as synonymous with simultaneous speech, referring simply to the co-occurrence of two or more speakers’ utterances in a conversation.

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