Increments in Navajo conversation

Margaret Field


This paper examines the use of increments (Schegloff 1996, Ford et al. 2002) in naturally occurring Navajo discourse (conversation.) Navajo is a polysynthetic verb-final language belonging to the Athabascan family, spoken in the American Southwest. It finds that Navajo increments, specifically “glue-ons” (Couper-Kuhlen & Ono this volume) appear in the form of temporal or locative adverbial phrases as well as unattached NPs, as is the case in English and other languages. However, Navajo increments do not appear to serve two functions suggested by Ford et al.(2002) for increments in English: “pursuing uptake” in the case of lack of recipiency, and the indexing of a “stance display” toward the speaker’s own previous utterance. This is not surprising given other cultural differences in Athabaskan interaction which revolve around a value on individual autonomy, with important consequences for language use.

Quick links
A browser-friendly version of this article is not yet available. View PDF
Basso, Keith
(1970) "To give up on words," silence in Apache culture. Southwest Journal of Anthropology 26.3: 213-38. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
(1979) Portraits of the Whiteman: Linguistic play andcultural symbolism among the Western Apache. N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Couper-Kuhlen, E
(1996) Intonation and clause-combining in discourse: The case of because . Pragmatics 6.3: 389-426. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Couper-Kuhlen, E., & T. Ono
this volume) “Incrementing” in conversation: A comparison of practices in English, German and Japanese.
Du Bois, John, Stephan Schuetze-Coburn, Danae Paolino, and Susanna Cumming
(1993) Outline of discourse transcription. In Jane A. Edwards and Martin D. Lampert (eds.), Talking data: Transcription and coding methods for language research. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 45-89.Google Scholar
Field, M
(1998) Maintenance of indigenous ways of speaking despite language shift: Language socialization in a Navajo preschool. Dissertation, UCSB Linguistics.Google Scholar
(1998) Politeness and indirection in Navajo directives. Journal of Southwest Linguistics 17.2: 23-34.Google Scholar
Ford, C., & S. Thompson
(1996) Interactional units in conversation: Syntactic, intonational, and pragmatic resources for turn management. In Elinor Ochs, Emanuel Schegloff, and Sandra Thompson (eds.), Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 134-184. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Ford, C., B. Fox, & S.A. Thompson
(eds.) (2002) The language of turn and sequence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Guilmet, G
(1978) Navajo and Caucasian children's verbal and nonverbal visual behavior in the urban classroom. Anthropology and education quarterly 9: 196-215. CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Saville-Troike, Muriel
(1985) The place of silence in an integrated theory of communication. D. Tannen, & M. Saville-Troike (eds.), Perspectives on silence, pp. 3-18.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Schegloff, E
(1996) Turn organization: one intersection of grammar and interaction. In Elinor Ochs, Emanuel Schegloff, and Sandra Thompson (eds.), Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 134-184. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
(2000) Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in society. 29: 1-63. Crossref  BoPGoogle Scholar
Scollon, Ron
(1985) The machine stops: silence in the metaphor of malfunction. In D. Tannen, & M. Saville-Troike (eds.), Perspectives on silence. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, pp. 21-31.Google Scholar
Young, Robert., William Morgan, and Sally Midgette
(1992) Analytical lexicon of Navajo.Albuquerque: University New Mexico Press.Google Scholar