The “Long List” in oral interactions: Definition, examples, context, and some of its achievements

Gonen Dori-Hacohen
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Abstract

This paper discusses lists, a neglected structure, to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about them in oral interactions. Two such assumptions are: unlike narratives, lists are perceived as centered on the delivery of objective information; and three-part lists are normative. Using Israeli and U.S.A. radio call-in shows data, this paper discusses the “Long List” – a list with more than three parts. These lists deliver their speaker’s meaning in a structure resembling stories: a “lister” delivers the “list” in a “listing” process. Listings may be explicit or implicit and may include evaluative elements. Long Lists might appear in chains, and in the Israeli data Long Lists demonstrate normative features similar to three-part lists in mundane interactions. Connecting them with their context, lists are sometimes used to emphasize media biases. The conclusion connects the Long Lists to their speech event and to poetics.

Keywords:
Publication history
Table of contents

1.Introduction

The following biblical verse presents the structure at the focus of this paper: “He sent against them His fierce anger fury and indignation and trouble a discharge of messengers of evil” (Psalms 78:49). This phrase is discussed in the Haggadah, the text orchestrating the Jewish Passover annual ritual:

Rabbi Eliezer said: How do we know that each individual plague … consisted of four plagues?

For it is said: “He sent against them His fierce anger, fury, and indignation, and trouble, a discharge of messengers of evil”: ‘Fury,’ is one; ‘Indignation,’ makes two; ‘Trouble, makes three; ‘Discharge of messengers of evil,’ makes four.

Rabbi Akiva said: How do we know that each individual plague … consisted of five plagues?

For it is said: “He sent against them his fierce anger, fury, and indignation, and trouble, a discharge of messengers of evil”: ‘His fierce anger,’ is one; ‘fury,’ makes two; ‘indignation,’ makes three; ‘trouble,’ makes four; ‘discharge of messengers of evil,’ makes five.11.The emphasis is mine; I used the following English translation: http://​www​.chabad​.org​/holidays​/passover​/pesach​_cdo​/aid​/661624​/jewish​/English​-Haggadah​.htm

Two rabbis argue about the number of plagues. Both interpret the same verse and count the parts that appear on the same list. They make the construction of the list explicit (one, two, three, four, five) as opposed to the content of the list. Rabbi Eliezer counts a four-part list: fury, indignation, trouble, and discharge of messengers of evil. Rabbi Akiva counts five parts: fierce anger, fury, indignation, trouble, and discharge of messengers of evil. This difference may be a result having no punctuation in the biblical verse. Regardless of the disagreement, this text illustrates a simple observation: the rabbis agree that the list has more than three parts to it; they disagree whether it has four or five items.

This segment allows some observations. First, one can separate the list from its content, making a list a verbally explicit process. Second, there is one relationship between lists and arguments: we have an argument about what constitutes an element on a list. Third, like summons (Schegloff 1968Schegloff, Emmanuel A. 1968 “Sequencing in Conversational Openings.” American Anthropologist, 70 (6): 1075–95. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 1075), the segment shows that current interactional phenomena are not new: lists of more than three parts existed in ancient times, and they exist today. This paper elaborates on these observations, specifically the discussion of long lists, to examine and challenge some accepted assumptions about lists as a discourse structure.

A fourth observation is also called for: the argument is part of a text called “Haggadah,” literally “Telling.” This name points to another theme that unfortunately haunts lists: they often come with and are compared to narratives. In this comparison, they are often treated as inferior. The Haggadah has many lists: after the table of content, it starts with a list of four questions; it continues with a list of four children; next is the list of the 10 plagues and the discussion of calculating the number of plagues, which the above discussion is a part of and which centers on numbering lists; following this argument, there is a list of blessings God bestowed upon the Israelites (about 15 parts); and then a list of three things one must do for exercising the Passover ritual correctly. Thus, although the Passover ritual text is called “Haggadah” (telling) it has as many lists as narratives, yet the lists are secondary, as both the name of the text and the mitzvah (decree) of the event are about telling stories. This inferiority of lists is kept in modern research.

The goal here is to redeem lists as an object of study in their own right and to draw attention to some misconceptions about them. For example, narratives are taken as subjective, and lists are viewed as objective (Schiffrin 1994Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). This paper contests this claim. Research argues that lists normatively contain three parts (Jefferson 1990Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar), and therefore this paper will discuss the more-than-three-parts lists, which is termed ‘The Long List.’ After reviewing the sparse literature review about lists (Section 2), there is a comparison between a long list and a narrative to challenge the position of prior research (sections 3, 4); then, some achievements of the Long List are presented: chains of Long Lists (Section 5), the normative elements that Long Lists may have in some contexts (Section 6), and finally a specific type of a Long List, lists of media (Section 7). The conclusion presents two recent long lists from U.S.A. politics to connect the ancient list with current times and to stress the significance of this overlooked extended discourse structure, and its relationship to its context and to different functions of language.

The opening example is taken from an ancient record of an oral exchange. The concluding examples will be of recent public lists, which were mocked for being “wrong.” The data, in the following sections, is taken from corpora of radio call-in shows. Radio current-affairs call-in interactions, which are argumentative interactions (Hutchby 1996Hutchby, Ian 1996Confrontation Talk: Arguments, Asymmetries, and Power on Talk Radio. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar Dori-Hacohen 2012Dori-Hacohen, Gonen 2012 “The Commercial and the Public “Public Spheres”: Two Types of Political Talk-Radio and their Constructed Publics.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media, 19 (2): 134–51. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), were collected for various projects (see Hacohen 2001Hacohen, Gonen 2001Jewish Argumentation: Conversational Features of Two Forms of Arguments in Israel. Unpublished MA thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (in Hebrew).Google Scholar; Dori-Hacohen 2012Dori-Hacohen, Gonen 2012 “The Commercial and the Public “Public Spheres”: Two Types of Political Talk-Radio and their Constructed Publics.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media, 19 (2): 134–51. CrossrefGoogle Scholar for more details): two Israeli phone-in corpora (years 1999–2000, and 2004–2006) and a U.S.A. talkback corpus (2011–2013). The interactions were mostly randomly selected for transcription and analysis. They were transcribed using various systems (which are not discussed or used here for space and other reasons). Elsewhere I argued about some differences and some resemblances in these corpora (Dori-Hacohen 2012Dori-Hacohen, Gonen 2012 “The Commercial and the Public “Public Spheres”: Two Types of Political Talk-Radio and their Constructed Publics.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media, 19 (2): 134–51. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2014 2014 “Spontaneous or Controlled: Overall Structural Organization of Phone-ins in Two Countries and their Relations to Societal Norms.” Journal of Pragmatics, 70: 1–15. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), yet the corpora are more similar than different concerning long lists, a structure which is understudied, as we discuss next.

2.Lists: Between facts and rhetoric

Lists are part of metadiscourse forms. Whereas metadiscourse may be a fuzzy concept (Hyland 2017Hyland, Ken 2017 “Metadiscourse: What is it and Where is it Going?Journal of Pragmatics, 113: 16–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), lists can be seen as making “commentary on a text made by its producer” (Hyland 2017Hyland, Ken 2017 “Metadiscourse: What is it and Where is it Going?Journal of Pragmatics, 113: 16–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 16). Following this definition, Hyland sees metadiscourse as a familiar routine which is known to the audience and sensitive to the context. Specifically, lists in oral interactios are processes which are not about a specific content but about their form and their speaker’s goals; these are key aspects of metadiscourse. As part of metadiscourse, lists may connect to Metalanguage (Jakobson 1987Jakobson, Roman 1987Language in Literature. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar), since they organize language use itself. However, as the conclusion will suggest, the Long List is part of the poetic function of parallelism (Jakobson 1987Jakobson, Roman 1987Language in Literature. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar) and not only about metalanguage.

Hyland claims that metadiscourse is rarely studied in mundane conversations (2017, 26). He argues that since he distinguishes metadiscourse from metapragmatic and metalanguage, which are more commonly studied. The study of lists as a form was mainly done on written texts, and not on oral talk, the focus of the current paper. Another major limitation of prior research, as stated above, is that lists are often studied alongside other structures, namely the narrative. For example in his analysis of written historical formats, White (1980)White, Hayden 1980 “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality.” Critical Inquiry, 7 (1): 5–27. CrossrefGoogle Scholar discusses stories as a vehicle for creating meaning, by comparing them to the annals and chronicles. He describes these genres as fact-driven, delivering information without inserting any coherent meaning into them (annals) and with no conclusions (chronicles), unlike the narrative, which creates coherent meaning in its structure. Thus, White contrasts forms that can be viewed as lists – a compilation of facts that were put together – with narratives.

This emphasis on stories as meaning-making as opposed to lists is also shared by discursive research. In “Making a List” (1994), Schiffrin defines the list as a compilation of items put together via some grammatical features. She then compares lists to narratives in her interview data and generalizes her findings to lists: “evaluation is less relevant to the internal construction of list per se. More generally, evaluation is required and pervasive in a story but optional and minimal in lists.” (1994, 387) Hence, lists are a compilation of ‘objects’ or ‘things,’ and they are mainly based on categories in the speaker’s cognition.

This suggestion has since been taken for granted, especially in light of Schiffrin’s other argument. She stated: “The relative neglect of lists in the discourse literature is a surprising oversight.” (1994, 378). More than 25 years after Schiffrin’s research, lists are still under-researched. This is striking when compared to the narrative and the argument. Narratives seem to be ubiquitous; at least the ubiquitous research of narratives argues that (see Fisher 1987Fisher, Walter R. 1987Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar). This paper uses some findings from the vast discussions of narratives (starting from Labov and Waletzky 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar, through Tannen’s 1989Tannen, Deborah 1989Talking voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar involvement in narratives to an entire field of narratology, see Toolan 1988Toolan, Michael J. 1988Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar). Narratives are studied in interactions, and Blum-Kulka (1997)Blum-Kulka, Shoshana 1997Dinner Talk: Cultural Patterns of Sociability and Socialization in Family Discourse. Mahwah, N.J. and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar suggested the structure of a ‘teller’ speaking a ‘tale’ in a ‘telling’ process for narratives. Arguments also get significant attention, both in traditional rhetorical research and in a renewal of that tradition in the pragma-dialectic approach (e.g., Eemeren, Houtlosser, and Snoeck Henkemans 2007Eemeren, Frans H. V., Peter Houtlosser, and Francisca F. Snoeck Henkemans 2007Argumentative Indicators in Discourse: A Pragma-Dialectical Study. Dordrecht: Springer. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Unlike the many books about narratives and arguments, to which this paper cannot do justice, the following literature review of lists is close to being exhaustive.

Lists are used for rhetorical reasons. Atkinson (1984) described how three-part lists are used as “clap-traps.” He described the “tricolon” in an interactional language, yet the rhetoric usage did not lead to the sharp distinction between the form and the content of the list. Jefferson (1990)Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar showed that in mundane conversations in American English three-part lists are “the usual list,” since participants routinely use empty third parts (like “etc.”) to complete a list.

Continuing Jefferson’s perspective, Lerner (1994)Lerner, Gene. H. 1994 “Responsive List Construction A Conversational Resource for Accomplishing Multifaceted Social Action.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 13 (1): 20–33. CrossrefGoogle Scholar showed that in collaborative turn construction participants can use the three-part list to change the trajectory of a turn. Participants can divert meanings through understanding the list as a structure. Selting (2007)Selting, Margaret 2007 “Lists as Embedded Structures and the Prosody of List Construction as an Interactional Resource.” Journal of Pragmatics, 39 (3): 483–526. CrossrefGoogle Scholar showed that there are two types, open and closed lists, which correlate to their prosody. Both types, Selting found, usually hold three parts. Similarly, Bilmes (2009)Bilmes, Jack 2009 “Taxonomies are for Talking: Reanalyzing a Sacks classic.” Journal of Pragmatics, 41 (8): 1600–1610. CrossrefGoogle Scholar studies taxonomies in everyday talk, yet in his fascinating article, he does not mention lists.

This limited research regarding lists is an oversight as Schiffrin (1994)Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar argued, and a serious one. Researchers claim that narratives are ubiquitous, yet within many stories one finds lists; similarly, lists are used in argumentative settings. Moreover, lists are used and have a central role in many areas. In oral interactions, people use lists sometimes to manipulate a collaborative turn construction, as Lerner argued, but mostly for other reasons.

This neglect of studying lists, especially when compared to stories, is one motivation behind this research. Lists are defined here as an extended metadiscourse structure (see Chafe 1994Chafe, Wallace L. 1994Discourse, Consciousness, and Time: The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar) that compiles items together using various, weak or strong, grammatical and other elements for the compilation. 22.Not being a linguist, I will not focus on the grammatical and other elements in the compilation of list and leave this work to future studies. This definition ignores temporality; hence, unlike narratives, lists do not have to have temporal elements. This definition also avoids any relationship between the elements; therefore, unlike arguments, the ties between the elements on a list are not necessarily logical or reasonable. This definition covers both explicit and implicit lists: explicit lists have the listing process explicitly mentioned in them, unlike implicit lists which are based on the grammar and other implicit elements for their creation.

The constant need to compare lists to other forms explains the next section. However, the comparison is of one specific narrative to one specific long list, since both share the same interactional function in the same interactional slot (Section 3). The analysis of the single narrative and list highlights the most interesting type of lists: the Long List. Jefferson (1990)Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar presented the three-part list as the normative form. The “Long List” – defined as having more-than-three-part – shows that lists may do more-than-minimal interaction work (see Hacohen and Schegloff 2006Hacohen, Gonen, & Schegloff, Emmanuel A. 2006 “On the Preference for Minimization in Referring to Persons: Evidence from Hebrew Conversation.” Journal of Pragmatics, 38 (8): 1305–1312. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). The Long Lists deliver the speaker’s meaning, yet, the conclusion suggests this feature is not unique to the Long List, but is true to all lists, since all lists are a part of the metadiscourse realm.

3.Comparing a narrative to a long list

Schiffrin (1994)Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar discusses lists by comparing them to narratives. She compares the 40 lists to the narratives in her data to generalize about lists. For Schiffrin, narratives are structures that are organized based on time sequences in them, and although lists may have such element, they are more a reflection of an organized category for the speaker. Hence, narratives have evaluative elements in them, whereas these elements are less relevant to lists. Schiffrin summarizes: “the involvement of the self seems to pervade the narrative process underlying experience more deeply than the logical process underlying categorization.” (1994Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 383) Similarly, for Schiffrin, (logical) categorization is the main function of making a list.

To challenge this theory, one only needs one case, therefore one narrative and one list are used. These specific excerpts are comparable in their function and action. The narrative and the long list share the same interactional slot: they are the caller’s second turn on the “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” In this slot in these interactions, callers may use practices to establish themselves as Limbaugh’s fans (Dori-Hacohen 2013 2013 ““Rush, I love you”: Interactional Fandom on American Political Talk-Radio.” International Journal of Communication, 7: 2697–2719.Google Scholar), as the callers in (1) do. One caller uses a narrative (1a), the other uses a long list (1b).

(1)

“The Rush Limbaugh Show”33.I present the transcripts in their simplest form, mainly for space reasons.

a. 28.01.10 b. 31.07.12
1 a first of all I’ve i I just le me I I know you that you have many
2 started listening to you people waiting for you, but I just briefly
3 after closely ah have to say this before I go into what I
4 berating my husband, for called for. Ehm sorry, I I just came from
5 listening to your treatment, I am dealing with cancer so, I
6 talking points? And I- hate Obamacare. Number one. Uhm number two,
7 once I’d started I’m married to SFPD police officer. number
8 listening to you I three, I have a daughter who is an intel in
9 became such a wild fan, the army. And number four I have a daughter
10 I you know, everywhere that is half black. And number five, my
11 we go when we are on the grandfather sorry the chemo is kinda killing
12 road, we’re always me. Number five he was the mayor of Rio Linda
13 scanning the airwaves for two terms and till the day of their death
14 for stations carrying they adored you, they listened to you, they
15 Rush Limbaugh. idolized you, they loved you. They they they
16 made me what I am today, with your help and
17 Mark Levin.

The story (1a) presents a caller who first did not like Limbaugh’s points and therefore berated her husband for reciting them (1a:1–7). Then, after listening to Limbaugh, she became a wild fan (1a:8–10). Moving from the past to the present tense, she tells that no matter where she and her husband go, they always listen to Limbaugh (1a:12–15). This turn is based on temporality, as defined in narratives, to present the speaker’s point of view. First, there was the berating, then the listening, and the transformation to a wild fan, and now (the coda, Labov and Waletzky’s 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar) listening everywhere. The caller succeeds in this fandom turn, and the host thanks her for it (not shown here, see Dori-Hacohen 2013 2013 ““Rush, I love you”: Interactional Fandom on American Political Talk-Radio.” International Journal of Communication, 7: 2697–2719.Google Scholar).

Compare this narrative to the list to its right. It is a long list of the speaker’s individual features: her health and its political meaning, her family’s members’ occupations, race, and roles. The first observation is that the list is longer than the story, in spite of it being presented as brief (1b:2). The second observation is that the list is delivered in a more dramatic fashion than the narrative. The caller starts by apologizing for something, saying “sorry,” (1b:4), stating she has cancer (1b:5–7) to explain she hates “Obamacare” (1b:6–7). After this sentence she numbers it as “number one.” (1b:7). Structuring her talk in this way, the caller starts a list with its first part and not with showing she is embarking on list-making. Pushing the item forward at the expense of clarifying the “listing” is the second element in the dramatic structure of this list. The first dramatic element is, of course, the content of the item, of having cancer as the ground for a political position. She then continues with the “listing,” putting “number one” and “number two” in consecutive utterances (1b:7–8). Items two to four (1b:7–10) reflect the elements of her identity which demonstrates her sharing the host’s opinions regarding law and order, strong nation, and race relations in the U.S.A.

The drama resumes around item five. The caller starts by listing “and number five” (1b:10) and moves to the subject of the fifth part (her grandfather). Yet, before delivering its content, she remarks on how difficult talking is for her at this very moment. She uses a sentence which uses alliteration (the sounds of K, N, M, in “KiMo” “KiNda” “KilliNg” “Me,” 1b:11–12) for that. This insertion of talk about the “lister,” instead of continuing the list, breaks its continuity and suspends its delivery. This sentence also returns to the struggle the caller goes through, her cancer, which she mentioned in item one.

After the chemo sentence, the caller repeats the listing, with “number five” (1b:12). This repetition turns the previous sentence into an insertion which suspended the continuation of the list. After reproducing the listing, the caller delivers her final item – that her grandfather was Limbaugh’s fan in a town that is central to his mythology. The caller closes the turn by using the fifth part to bring the list to the present (1b:12-end), which can be seen as a coda (Labov & Waletzky 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar). This long list presents the elements that show how the caller is Limbaugh’s fan. As such, it is argumentative; however, it is not an argument, since it lacks any elements of reasoning in its structure. At the end of their interaction, Limbaugh thanks the caller for being his fan.

The comparison between the two excerpts leads to various observations. First, both achieve their goal – presenting the caller as a fan. Second, the list is longer than the narrative. Third, the list uses evaluative elements, which are usually associated with narratives: the breaking of the telling time to insert talk about the teller and its position is an external evaluation, suspending the happening in the “narrative” to discuss the “narrator” (Labov and Waletzky 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar); the grammar of this break, being alliteration, is an internal evaluation (Labov and Waletzky 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar).

As Schiffrin (1994)Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar argued, the information delivered in this list (1b) is objective. Its parts, the hyponyms, are shared being on the same list, the hypernym, so we can see categorization work. However, the organization of this list is subjective. The relations between a speaker’s medical condition as a reason for political position, husband’s and daughter’s occupations, another half-daughter’s race, and grandfather’s political role are not objective. If lists are categories of objects compiled together, and therefore, to some degree objective, as Schiffrin and White suggest, it is hard to see this objectivity in this particular compilation. The caller builds the shared meaning of the items only by putting them on the same list and by turning these separate items into a list (via the listing). Moving from one very personal item to what she construes as the most dramatic item (partially by inserting an evaluative sentence into it) and then bringing the list to the present time, the caller makes these items part of the same category – items that demonstrate she is Limbaugh’s fan – a category she keeps to the end of her list. The caller and her knowledge are what enable her to put very different objects together in the same list. Thus, although items on lists are or may be objective, the compilation of lists, that is the “making a list,” is subjective. As such, much like Bilmes (2009)Bilmes, Jack 2009 “Taxonomies are for Talking: Reanalyzing a Sacks classic.” Journal of Pragmatics, 41 (8): 1600–1610. CrossrefGoogle Scholar argued about taxonomies in mundane talk, lists are not natural, simple, or objective.

To draw a parallel between a narrative and a list, and another possible contribution to our understanding of lists, the following terminology was used above: the “lister” is comparable to the “teller” (Blum-Kulka 1997Blum-Kulka, Shoshana 1997Dinner Talk: Cultural Patterns of Sociability and Socialization in Family Discourse. Mahwah, N.J. and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar), the “listing” is comparable to the “telling,” and the “list” is comparable to the “tale”. Hence, just as narratives have elements that are part of the process of narration and elements that are part of the content of the events, lists have explicit elements that relate to the structuring of the list, separated from the list items. Much like a monologic “telling” has a “teller” which tells a “tale;” every monologic “listing” has a “lister” which delivers a “list.” The relations between these elements infuse the lister’s meaning into the informative items (list) in the listing, in the same way that a teller’s subjectivity can be imposed on experiences (tale) during a telling.

The list above is a case in point. As aforementioned, the lister does not start with listing but with the list item itself. Only then, she stresses the listing by two consecutive utterances (“number one,” “number two”) and then continues listing between the “list.” She breaks the “list” just before reaching its peak by focusing on the “lister” at that very moment. The caller breaks the list but not the listing, as she cut herself off after the “my grandfather” and not after “number five.” Additionally, after the break, she resumes the listing before returning to the list, showing the significance of the listing.

Being on the list makes all the items share the same quality; the organization of them within the list is also used for infusing the lister’s meanings into the list. Moreover, the list is bigger than its elements, since its role is to establish a central element of the lister through its listing. The goal of narratives is to deliver meaning that is not strictly found in the reportable events. In much the same way, the goal of this list is to deliver a speaker’s meaning, and this meaning is bigger than the meaning delivered in the reportable items. This list demands attention to itself via its structure and its content, hence it is overall poetic (Jakobson 1987Jakobson, Roman 1987Language in Literature. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar), a point we will return to in the conclusion.

This section compared one narrative to one list, following research which compared narratives to lists to make claims regarding what lists are. In order to disprove these claims, one case which is markedly different from those discussed in the literature was given. The analysis shows that lists may be used for delivering their speaker’s point of view similar to stories and to other metadiscursive structures (Hyland 2017Hyland, Ken 2017 “Metadiscourse: What is it and Where is it Going?Journal of Pragmatics, 113: 16–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). This finding is markedly different from Schiffrin’s, who argued that list compile objects via logical categorization process, As we will see next, the current corpora also problematize the numeric usage of lists that Schiffrin found in her data.

4.Counting lists in corpora

In the previous section one long list was compared to one narrative. The remainder of the paper presents other long lists and how they are accomplished in interactions. But, first a word of caution regarding drawing conclusions from counting lists within corpora.

In her “Making a List,” Schiffrin (1994)Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar reports her finding based on 40 lists from 20 hours of linguistic interviews. A count of the lists in the corpora for this study presents very different numbers. The corpora are of current-affairs radio call-in interactions from the U.S.A. and Israel, and the quantitative arguments cannot be generalized from these corpora. However, they can be used to challenge the generalized limitations prior research presented about lists.

The corpora could have been collapsed into one, but they were kept separated to show that in comparison to Schiffrin’s corpus, each corpus has more lists, specifically long lists. I have identified three-part lists and long lists in all of them. Table 1 presents the number of lists in Schiffrin’s and the current corpora and summarizes the differences between the corpora.

Table 1.Number of lists per minutes and their ratio (per minute)
Corpus # lists Length in minutes Lists per minute
Schiffrin’s interviews  20 2400  1:30
Israeli phone-ins 1999  15   60 1:4
Israeli phone-ins 04–06 178  390    1:2.19
U.S.A. talkback 2011–13  13  120    1:9.23

In the larger Israeli corpus, since many lists were found, I counted them by their different parts, as presented in Table 2.

Table 2.3-part and long lists from the Israeli radio corpus of 2004–2006
List total 3-part list 4-part list 5-part list More-than-5 part list
178 131 28 15 4
% out of lists  74 16  8 2

As is clear from the corpora, the ratio of lists per minute is much higher in the radio data than in Schiffrin’s. The Israeli radio phone-in data had more lists per minute than the U.S.A. talkback data, but even the latter had significantly more lists than in Schiffrin’s interviews.

This comparison leads to various speculations. Schiffrin’s corpus may be underrepresenting lists in the talk. Symmetrically, the radio data may be overrepresenting them. This overrepresentation may be due to the argumentative features of the radio call-in shows, especially when compared to Schiffrin’s data, which was from a non-argumentative interview arena. Regardless of which arena is more representative of which type of talk, a clear conclusion should be made: we must consider the interactional contexts in which lists are produced. In other words, Schiffrin cannot generalize about lists from her limited data set, nor can we generalize from the current corpora at this stage to all contexts. Some features of the lists in the current data, radio call-in shows in the U.S.A. and in Israel, challenge the central findings Schiffrin suggested, that lists are objective. Moreover, Schiffrin’s argument led to a limited view of lists, and the discussion below about the role of long lists as an extended discourse structure in interactions counters these limitations.

5.Chains of lists

Like stories (Sacks 1974Sacks, Harvey 1974 “An Analysis of the Course of a Joke’s Telling in Conversation.” In Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking, ed. by Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, 337–353. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar), lists can come in chains, with one list reinforcing the point the speaker wants to make by using them. In (2), an Israeli caller criticizes callers from the opposite political persuasion. He complains about the Labor party supporters who lie about their name to get access to the program. He then connects the callers with the party itself.

(2)
TST, 29.01.0444.The data was translated from the Israeli phone-in interactions and numbers were inserted in brackets after each part of the list. Only the translations are provided since the Hebrew grammar is less central to my argument.

1 C:  my second comment is about Arye. you know, Arye from
2     Holon or Bat-Yam. You know, it reminds me a joke
3     about one girl that every time goes from one city to
4     the next city, and changes her name so she will not
5     be recognized. Do you understand? That’s how it is.
6     Similar to him, similar to him is Arye [1], similarly
7     Khezi [2], similarly Santos [3]. (talk omitted)
8     Similar to him, same with the Labor party. Once it
9     was em uhm how do you call it, Mapai [1], then the
10    Labor party [2], Maarakh [3]. With Barak how was it,
11    I forgot the name [4]. I mean, every time it changes
12    its name. It is like a hooker that goes from city to
13    the next and changes her name.

The caller uses two lists, one for callers and one long list for the Labor party. The list of callers’ names is comprised of three items: Arye (twice), Khezi, and Santos (2:6–7). They are equated to a “girl” who changes her name every time she moves to another city. Then, the caller talks about the Labor party. He uses the phrase “similar to him” to connect the list of people to the list about the party. The list of party names is comprised of four parts, of which three are names the Labor party used in Israel: Mapai, The Labor, Maarakh (2:9–10). The caller starts with a request for help about the first name and then shortens the items on the list: the second name is mentioned with the “then” before it (2:9) and the word party after it, the third name is given by itself without any introduction (“ maarakh ”, 2:10). The fourth item is presented in a long way and mirrors the first. The caller shows he cannot remember the name (compare “how do you call it” 2:8–9 to “how was it, I forgot the name” 2:10), and in this item he leaves it to the interlocutors to reach the actual name, instead mentioning the name of the leader at that time.55.Ehud Barak ran a campaign with the party branded “Israel Akhat” (one Israel) comprised of the Labor party and other factions. Thus, this long list has three names of the party and one person’s name, not coherent items from the same category. The name-searches can be seen as an involvement strategy (Tannen 1989Tannen, Deborah 1989Talking voices: Repetition, dialogue, and imagery in conversational discourse. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar). As in the list above (Example (1b)), these listers use evaluative elements in their listing to get the recipients involved with the list; similarly, they connect the first and last parts on their lists. After he finishes the long list, the caller equates the party to a hooker who changes her name in every new city she arrives to, alluding to the same “joke” he told about the callers who change their names (compare 2:11–13 to 2:2–5).

This caller built a chain of lists to deliver the same meaning for the people and party he opposes. These lists also share the organizing mechanism – lists of “names.” The combination of these lists enhances the meaning the caller delivers: the political party he opposes, and its supporters, can be equated to a prostitute for lack of consistency, changing their name to accommodate the electorate and hide their true identity, and therefore the party and its supporters should not be trusted.

Using chains of lists is also demonstrated in (3) for the same reason: strengthening the speaker’s point of view. Sean Hannity expresses his opinion the day after President Obama’s re-election. In a nutshell, he disparages the Obama campaign for using a negative campaign:

(3)
SH 11.07.12

1. H: if I’m impatient with people I usually say I’m
2.    sorry afterward [1]. Ah if I am angry I say I’m sorry
3.    afterward [2]. ah if I have an argument or speak out
4.    of anger I’ll usually say I’m sorry afterward [3]. if
5.    I’m Obama [1], if I’m Biden [2], if I’m Axelrod [3],
6.    if I’m Jay Carney [4], if I’m Stephanie Cutter [5],
7.    I’m just I’m by using my standards what they did in
8.    this campaign no substance, and it was run on small
9.    meaningless themes, and personal attack, (continues)

Before the excerpt begins, Hannity says he always feels guilty. He then creates a list about the result of having a conscience (3:1–4): being and saying sorry for wrongdoings. This list is consistent, as he repeats the grammatical structure for the listing while changing the items on it, creating a parallelism: “when/if I am X, I usually say I’m sorry afterward” (3:1–4). Then, Hannity makes a long list of five people (3:5–6), who worked in the Obama campaign. This list is parallel to the prior one: “If I’m X” where X is the name on the list. Thus, we see back-to-back lists, of three and five items, both using the same grammar for listing, alluding to a combined list “If I’m Obama (second list), I say I’m sorry afterward (first list).” After these lists, Hannity describes the negative campaign these five people ran, which eventually (not shown here) Hannity says people with a conscience, like him, could not have run. Thus, by using these lists, Hannity creates an image of himself as a person with a strong morality, as opposed to the long list of people, headed by President Obama, who has no such morality.

The previous excerpts presented chains of lists used by the same speaker to emphasize his point. Speakers can also use a list to respond to a prior one put forth by another speaker. Prior to (4), the Israeli caller spoke in generalizations. The host asks her only to represent herself. She reciprocates by accusing him of representing the left-wing, a self-proclaimed majority. Then, the next dialogue ensues.

(4)
TST, 02.02.05

1. H:  I do not represent anyone [1]. Not the majority [2].
2.     And not the minority [3]. I do not represent [4].
3.     I speak on my own behalf. Speak on your own behalf.
4. C:  I speak on my own behalf [1]. And on behalf of
5.     Reason [2], and Judaism [3], and Zionism [4],
6.     and on behalf of the entire Israeli People [5].

The host rejects the accusation of representing the left-wing. He uses a long list to stress he only speaks on his own behalf: he represents no-one, neither the majority nor the minority (4:1–2). He uses this list as a preface for a directive (4:3). The caller replies with another long list (4:4–6). She resonates his phrase “on behalf” (beshem in Hebrew) to name the things she speaks for: herself, Reason, Judaism, Zionism, and the entire Israeli People. Her list is longer than his, as he constructed a four-part list and she “one-ups” it with a five-part list. With this list, the caller rejects the host’s directive (4:3) and clarifies that the opinions she presented are accepted by all.

The caller’s list demonstrates the subjectivity that lists establish. Similar to (1b), this caller puts different items on the same list. Her list consists of herself, a person; Reason – a mental capacity which is a human trait; Judaism – a religion; Zionism – a national movement; and then the entire Israeli people – an aggregate of herself and everyone else in her nationality and/or religion. These items cannot be seen as objective items that belong on the same list. This compilation of the long list has two goals: to express the speaker’s point of view, and to reject the host’s demand, following his long list.

6.Normative-like elements in Israeli long lists

Prior research, mainly in the U.S.A. (Jefferson 1990Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar), suggested the three-part list is the normative list. Here is another long list with more-than-three parts.

(5)
TST, 29.12.04

1. C:  I want all foreign ministers, will be here in front of me
2.     to be here in front of me, uh, Ro Rome [1] Paris [2]
3.     London [3] America [4] Russia [5] ((cont.))

This caller wants to convene an international summit to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In compiling foreign ministers, he names 3 capital cities (Rome, Paris, London), one continent, which stands for a country (America in Hebrew refers to the U.S.A.) and one country (Russia). This long list combines different types of hyponyms to create a coherent hypernym and shows that the caller needed a long list.

On top of having long lists, some of these lists in Israel present elements that were found in the normative three-parts lists. Jefferson suggested that the normativity of the three-part list is partially based on the completers at the end of these lists. She demonstrated that the third item is an “empty item,” an item with no meaning, e.g., “etc.” The role of the filler is to create completion by creating three-parts even when a speaker does not have three substantive items; hence, the normative power of the tricolon in mundane interaction in the U.S.A. In the Israeli radio phone-ins, similar fillers may be found at the fourth, fifth or sixth spot.

(6)
TST, 02.02.05

1. C:  it is written in the bible to settle there (in the
2.     territories). To settle everywhere. Do you think that
3.     after two thousand years [1], and after all the
4.     pogroms [2], and the holocausts [3], and everything
5.     [4], the Israeli people still need to wander? 

The caller stresses that Israel should continue to settle in the territories since these are Israeli lands. Then she poses a question, in which she uses a long list of Jewish historical suffering, which consists three substantive items. The first item is “two thousand years;” although this item seems to be temporal, its meaning is 2000 years of exile, in which the Jewish People was forced out of its homeland (according to the Zionist story in its name the caller speaks, see (Example (4)). The “listing” is achieved via the “and” that connects the different items on the list, and the second item is also connected by the repetition of the “after.” The second item is “all the pogroms” – a loaded term relating to massacres of the Jewish population in exile. The third item is sho’ot ,” the plural form of “sho’a” – the Holocaust. She uses the atrocity of the Second World War – the Holocaust – and pluralizes it as another element in the Jewish suffering. After these items that exaggerate the Jewish suffering (it was less than 2000 years and “only” one holocaust), the caller uses a fourth item: “and everything.” This empty item is the most general filler, upgrading the other items on the list further. Thus, three extreme items were not enough for this caller. Therefore, she completed the list with a fourth item, before asking her question.

In (7) another filler is demonstrated. The caller discusses a television program about prisoners’ rights, and he reports how a prisoner’s wife talked about her daughter, who would not have a father since he was imprisoned. Here is the caller’s list.

(7)
FIM, 03.12.04

C:  that her daughter, can not ever see her father [1], not 
    enjoy him [2], not hear from him [3], not talk to him [4],
    etc. etc. [5].

The caller tells that the mother said the daughter could not see, hear, enjoy, or talk with her father. The listing is based on “negation + verb + father/him” four times, and after the fourth item, the caller complements the list with the “etc. etc.” (vexuley vexuley in Hebrew), making it an open list (Selting 2007Selting, Margaret 2007 “Lists as Embedded Structures and the Prosody of List Construction as an Interactional Resource.” Journal of Pragmatics, 39 (3): 483–526. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Whereas (6) presented a list in which the empty complement was in the fourth position and was encompassing everything, here the empty item comes after the speaker already used four items, and suggests it can continue forever (to belittle the point of view of the mother he quotes).

The adding of empty fillers at the end of the list shows that long lists may have similar status to the normative lists Jefferson found in mundane U.S.A. talk. The next Excerpt (8) presents a different aspect of the same phenomenon: the caller finishes a three-part list and then adds a fourth one. The caller complains that the media pursue Benjamin Netanyahu because he is from the political right wing. He exemplifies left-wing politicians or parties, who had legal problems and the media hushed these stories using a legal procedure called “sub-judice,” which supposedly prevents the media from reporting about current legal proceedings. Then, the caller complains the media still reports about Netanyahu’s legal problems, in spite of the “sub-judice” rule, which applies to him.

(8)
TST, 23.09.99

1. C:  look at the media in its complete hypocrisy. People
2.     sit and all the time say to you that all kind of
3.     topics like the Teiman affair [1], like Sheves Affair
4.     [2], and all kind of other affairs [3] that are related to
5.     left-wing people that this is sub-judice.
6.     Suddenly, with Benjamin Netanyahu, not the Baron
7.     affair [1], not this affair [2], by the way, I forgot
8.     the affair of Stra Strashnov [4] that vanished from
9.     the media, we did not get any explanations about it.

The caller mentions two affairs the media hushed (8:3): the Teiman affair – the accusation of kidnapping Yemenite Jewish children from their parents by the left-wing authorities in the 1950s; and the “Sheves affair” – a left-wing operator who was found guilty of corruption. The caller then uses a completer phrase as his third item (“and all kind of other affairs” 8:4). After this empty part, he closes the sentence about the media using sub-judice for not reporting these affairs. He then contrasts these treatments with the one Netanyahu receives (8:6–7) with a list of two affairs the media did cover (“Bar’on,” and “this one”). Yet, instead of continuing with this comparison, the caller sidetracks to add a fourth part to his prior list. He mentions another affair (“Strashnov,” a presumably left-wing judge, who was accused of corruption 8:7–8). This addition of an item to the first list, which had closed with a completer in its third item, turns that list to a long list and is further evidence that at least in this environment in Israel, callers use long lists and construct them following completion of three-part lists. These excerpts show that at least some callers find that three-part lists are not enough in this environment, suggesting that for them, the long lists are needed and hence normative. At the very least, we see that the long lists show similarities to the three-part lists Jefferson found in mundane U.S.A. interaction, and this similarity suggests that in the phone-in environment, an argumentative arena or a political one, lists may need to be longer than in mundane interactions. The conclusion returns to this suggestion.

7.Lists about the media

The long lists discussed so far presented their speaker’s point. Some long lists compile very different elements, while others use similar resources for their compilation. One point that was suggested above was the importance of the context to understanding the form. The context is the radiophonic discussion in which people present their opinions. In this mediated environment, callers use long lists of media. These long lists exist and are shared in both cultures, as the next two excerpts present.

(9)

Israeli long lists of media

a. TST 13.12. 04 Caller: b. TST 13.12.04 Caller: c. TST 24.9.99 Host:
1 What does the army chief of you say, there is a
2 staff tell us? Mud is thrown because you are daily meeting, of the
3 at him. And who does it? part of them, part newspapers editorial
4 Channel one [1] channel two of them, that we boards [1], and the
5 [2] channel ten [3], the hear, on the radio media [2], and the
6 army radio [4], the second [1], on television radio [3], and the
7 network [5]. For him it is [2], in the papers television [4], on
8 mud, for the people [1], the [3], on cable [4], the agenda, who
9 folk [2], parts of us [3], on satellite [5], should we over-cover
10 the majority almost [4], it in all the places today and who
11 is a stab in the back. [6]. shouldn’t we?

The excerpt presents four long lists. First, in (9a) a caller blames the media for demoralizing the nation. He lists the elements which throw mud at the IDF chief of staff: three television stations and two radio stations (9a:4–7). Following this list and similar to a previous caller (4), the caller uses a long list to deliver the populist voice (9a:8–10). This chain of long lists (see Section 5) delivers the caller’s position of the existing opposition between himself and the nation on the one hand and the media on the other.

Later (9b), the same caller continues the same line. He presents a wider conception of the media, including the host (9b:2–3), which demoralize the people (the “we” in 9b:4), creating the same opposition between the Media and the People. This long list includes the electronic media (9b:5–7), the newspapers (9b:7) and the private cable and satellite companies (9b:8–19). On top of these named outlets, the caller completes his list with “in all the places” (9b:10), in case his long list was not exhaustive enough. This completer, the sixth item on the list, ensures this is a closed list (Selting 2007Selting, Margaret 2007 “Lists as Embedded Structures and the Prosody of List Construction as an Interactional Resource.” Journal of Pragmatics, 39 (3): 483–526. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), providing further evidence for the possible normativity of long lists here (see Section 6). In complaining about the media and their biases, this caller presented long lists which emphasize the wholeness of the media institution and its biases.

Hosts may respond with a long list of media outlets (9c) to reject such complaints. In his list (9c), the host mentions four elements: newspapers, radio, television, and the media. This list is constructed somewhat strangely, since the media (tikshoret in Hebrew) appears as an item on the list, a hyponym, although it is the hypernym, which covers the other items. This long list creates the sense of completion, to counter a caller’s complaint, and to show that the media cannot be colluding or orchestrating any shared campaigns, as callers often suggest.

While working on the U.S.A data, a similar list of media occurred. Moreover, the caller similarly complains that the media is biased in favor of the left. Luckily for this caller, Rush Limbaugh balances this bias:

(10)
RL 31.07.12

C:  and I tried to tell her how it was before you came along, 
    and that everything in the media [1] in in the movies [2]
    and in books [3] in in and anything on television [4], it
    was all liberal.

The caller uses a long list to describe the media landscape before Limbaugh started his show. In her list, she mentions the media in general and then breaks it down to movies, books, and television. She builds this list with some difficulties, as evident from her repetitions of the “in” throughout her list. Despite her difficulties, the first and last parts of her lists are generalized, using “everything” and “anything.” This long list shows that the entire media landscape was biased.

8.Discussion and conclusion

This paper started with an old argument about a long list, and whether it had four or five parts, to introduce the Long List. Before concluding, I want to present two recently ridiculed long lists from the U.S.A:

(11)
  1. Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “All of our leaders have flaws.”… “Washington [1], Jefferson [2], JFK [3], Roosevelt [4], Kennedy [5]. That doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country.”

  2. Ivanka Trump: We are working to bring to light many of the amazing female role models out there, whether that be a businesswoman [1], a teacher [2], a mother [3] or otherwise [4].66.These excerpts can be found on the following websites, available on 01/02/2019: 11a: http://​www​.huffingtonpost​.com​.au​/2017​/11​/01​/does​-sarah​-huckabee​-sanders​-think​-jfk​-and​-kennedy​-were​-2​-different​-presidents​_a​_23263247/ 11b: https://​heymama​.co​/ladyboss​-ivanka​-trump​-is​-celebrating​-women​-who​-work/

Both speakers were ridiculed for their problematic lists. In (11a) the speaker refers to President Kennedy’s twice, by name and by abbreviation. In (11b), the filler “otherwise” is grammatically problematic. These faults might have been due to the use of long lists in the first place: in the second list, the lister needed filler and came up with a wrong one; note that the filler is in the fourth position, showing the tendency for using long lists, and not the normative three-part list. In the first list, the speaker decided to use a long list of five names and had difficulties remembering the names of the five Presidents for her long list, and this problem in the listing may have caused the ridicule.77.It is possible that she wanted to use Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and JFK, and got confused by the Roosevelts, the acronyms, and getting the presidents in temporal order for the list. Both Long Lists are used in political discourse. Both listers made mistakes during the listing, which led to ridiculing them and denied their point, which they tried to deliver via their long lists: Presidents are not perfect but still successful (11a), and women can do everything (11b). Problems in the listing process may hinder the lister’s point, yet this hypothesis awaits future research.

This paper had various goals in discussing the “Long List,” the list of more-than-three parts. First, it wanted to discuss lists as a metadiscursive form. Second, it aimed to highlight that speakers use long lists to deliver their point by compiling, at times very different, items on the same list. One central contribution this paper makes is to argue for the equivalent structure of lists and stories: just as tales are told by tellers during a telling (Blum-Kulka 1997Blum-Kulka, Shoshana 1997Dinner Talk: Cultural Patterns of Sociability and Socialization in Family Discourse. Mahwah, N.J. and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar) to deliver a speaker’s message using evaluative elements (Labov & Waletzky 1967Labov, William and Joshua Waletzky 1967 “Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.” In Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, ed. by June Helm, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar), so lists are delivered by listers in a listing process to deliver a speaker’s message using similar evaluative elements. This structural similarity between stories and lists continues when lists can be delivered in chains; each list reinforces the point of the other list (Example 2, 3, 9a). Stories have meanings and try to address the “so what” question; so, too, do lists.

The information long lists deliver is at times redundant, as some items may overlap with other items (recall Example 9c, 10). This overlap is further evidence that long lists aim to deliver the lister’s point, not to provide some objective information. The long list is not about objectivity but subjectivity. However, the long list was used as a special case for all lists. Since all lists are part of the metadiscursive realm, they deliver their speaker’s subjectivity, yet this claim demands further evidence.

This paper is not exhaustive about lists and their role in discourse, and it has various limitations. The data sets are limited, and it did not delve into the differences within the corpora. The unbalanced data, of more Israeli data than U.S.A. data, is another weakness of this report that awaits future research. This difference may explain why some normative-like features in the long list were found in Israeli phone-ins, yet a similar finding was not found in the U.S.A. data. This absence may be a result of cultural differences, or of a smaller corpus. Another limitation is ignoring the distinction between what can be called “conventional lists,” of names, places, media, etc. and non-conventional lists of things that are harder to grasp coming together in one list (see Example 1b, 4, 6).

Another weakness is the relation between the elements of the listing process. Only one example (Example (1), in addition to the Haggada discussion) had an explicit listing, whereas all other excerpts used implicit listing processes, using various grammatical structures and repetitions. Future research should study the relationships between different lists, listings, and listers, and should also delve into the relations between listing and taxonomy (Bilmes 2009Bilmes, Jack 2009 “Taxonomies are for Talking: Reanalyzing a Sacks classic.” Journal of Pragmatics, 41 (8): 1600–1610. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Another limitation is using mainly one type of discourse – radio call-in interactions. However, the paper did not aim to describe this arena but to discuss the long list as an extended discourse structure. The last two excerpts (Example (11)) suggest that long lists have a role in the political domain at large, and indeed the call-in shows are part of that domain. The first example showed that the long lists are not new.

As a major limitation, one cannot speculate on the role of lists in all discourse types, other than expressing their speaker’s point of view. This is the point of this paper. It wanted to challenge the current wisdom about lists, which is, for the most part, taken from two domains: of everyday talk (Jefferson 1990Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar) and of linguistic interviews (Schiffrin 1994Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). As suggested above, and also argued by Hyland (2017)Hyland, Ken 2017 “Metadiscourse: What is it and Where is it Going?Journal of Pragmatics, 113: 16–29. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, the context of a communication setting is influential on the metadiscourse used in it. In some settings, e.g., religious rituals based on memorization (the Jewish Haggadah), cookbooks, or political rhetoric (recall Example (11)), lists may be more important than in the radio data, or have a longer normative length to them. In other settings, e.g., the linguistic interview (Schiffrin 1994Schiffrin, Deborah 1994 “Making a List.” Discourse Processes, 17 (3): 377–406. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), or mundane interactions (Jefferson 1990Jefferson, Gail 1990 “List-construction as a Task and a Resource.” In Interaction Competence, ed. by George Psathas, 63–92. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America.Google Scholar), lists may have less importance or have (only) three normative parts. Schiffrin’s findings were accurate, however, her findings are accurate to lists in that setting and not to lists in general. Similarly, Jefferson may have found the normative number of items for lists in mundane interaction in the U.S.A., but this number may be different in other settings.

Regarding the central setting for this study, radio call-in shows, and their relations to lists, these programs are known to be argumentative (Dori-Hacohen 2012Dori-Hacohen, Gonen 2012 “The Commercial and the Public “Public Spheres”: Two Types of Political Talk-Radio and their Constructed Publics.” Journal of Radio and Audio Media, 19 (2): 134–51. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Therefore, lists may be an extended discourse structure that is common in arguments. A preference for lists in such settings was not demonstrated, unlike evidence that arguments are preferred over narratives in this Israeli environment (Hacohen 2007 2007 “Narrative and Argumentation in Israel radio phone-ins.” In Proceedings of the 6th ISSA conference ed. by van Eemeren, F., Blair, J. A., Willard, C. A. and B. Garssen, 549–556. Amsterdam: SicSat.Google Scholar). Lists may contribute to this argumentative surrounding, and may be one of its results. This argumentative environment might also explain why in Israel the long lists have normative elements to them, as Israelis are perceived as argumentative (see Blum-Kulka et al. 2002Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Menahem Blondheim, and Gonen Hacohen 2002 “Traditions of Dispute: From Negotiations of Talmudic Texts to the Arena of Political Discourse in the Media.” Journal of Pragmatics, 34 (10–11): 1569–1594. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). This explanation also connects the ancient excerpt from the introduction, the argument between two Rabbis about the number of items on a long list in the Haggadah, to the normative elements of the long list in modern Israel.

This paper presented the list, and specifically the list with more-than-three-parts, as an extended discourse structure. Thus, these lists may be seen as part of the metalinguistic function (Jakobson 1987Jakobson, Roman 1987Language in Literature. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar). However, I alluded in the paper that long lists are built on parallelism, since the repetition in them is what creates them and their point. Jakobson (1987)Jakobson, Roman 1987Language in Literature. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar has shown how in oral telling parallelism has a central role since it helps in the poetics of the texts. The lists and the long lists may use parallelism for their poetic function, to bring attention to the talk in and of itself. This paper, then, suggests continuing Jakobson’s work on oral texts (as were found in folklore and elsewhere) to study everyday interactions. These oral traditions share the same resources that people, either knowingly or unknowingly, use in everyday interactions. I did not delve into the grammatical or the prosodic elements that build the parallelism of the long lists. However, using Jakobson’s insights and systematic analysis of oral poetics on everyday interactions may allow us to see the creativity in them and their poetic in a clearer way.

Lists are becoming more prominent in everyday life. On top of the shopping lists, people have one or more ‘to-do lists,’ and both types of lists are now available as applications in digital formats (e.g., wunderlist as a “to-do list” app, and “out-of-milk” for a shopping list app). The centrality of lists in daily life, as opposed to their marginality in discursive research, led to this report. One of the major conclusion of this research tied the following elements: a speech arena (the radio call-in shows) [1], extended discourse structure (the list) [2], culture (Israeli, U.S.A.) [3], and metadiscourse (form for the speaker’s position) [4]. On top of these connections, this paper tries to balance the discussion of different extended discourse structures and to emphasize the role of the forgotten extended discourse structure – the list – to define the Long List and discuss its contributions to and achievements in interactions.

Acknowledgements

The discussion of the Haggadah segment is dedicated to M. Blondhiem. Versions of this paper were presented at the 9th ISSA conference in Amsterdam, 2018 and the 64th ICA conference in Seattle, 2014. The U.S.A. data was collected and transcribed with funding from SBS and UMass FRG grants. I would like to thank the different readers and reviewers of this paper, which made it better than I anticipated. The remaining shortcomings are solely mine.

Notes

2.Not being a linguist, I will not focus on the grammatical and other elements in the compilation of list and leave this work to future studies.
3.I present the transcripts in their simplest form, mainly for space reasons.
4.The data was translated from the Israeli phone-in interactions and numbers were inserted in brackets after each part of the list. Only the translations are provided since the Hebrew grammar is less central to my argument.
5.Ehud Barak ran a campaign with the party branded “Israel Akhat” (one Israel) comprised of the Labor party and other factions.
7.It is possible that she wanted to use Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and JFK, and got confused by the Roosevelts, the acronyms, and getting the presidents in temporal order for the list.

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Address for correspondence

Gonen Dori-Hacohen

Department of Communication

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

650 North Pleasant st.

Amherst, MA 01033

U.S.A.

gonen@comm.umass.edu

Biographical notes

Gonen Dori-Hacohen (Ph.D. 2009, University of Haifa, Israel) is an associate professor at the department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a discourse analyst, studying interactions in the media and in mundane situations, focusing on the intersection of interaction, culture, politics, and the media. Further information can be found: https://​umass​.academia​.edu​/GonenDoriHacohen