Conversation analysis originated as a subfield of ethnomethodology in the 1960s, but since then has developed into a larger discipline at the intersection of sociology and linguistics. While ethnomethodology looks at the interpretive methods used in social life, conversation analysis focuses on communication, although a more precise term is talk-in-interaction. The rigorously scientific methodology developed by Harvey Sacks (1935–1975) involved tape-recording, making careful transcriptions of naturally occurring conversation, identifying regularities, identifying the socially shared methods used by conversationalists, and developing cumulative knowledge through comparative studies. Although the original focus was everyday conversation, researchers have also investigated talk in legal settings.

An important foundation for conversation-analytic research was the 1974 “simple systematics” paper by Sacks, Gail Jefferson, and Emanuel Schegloff, which described the methods used in taking ...

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