What is it about?

Service encounters typically consist of several sub-tasks, as for example in our case, ticket purchases at a theathre box office. The customers may ask about ticket availability and seating alternatives, the staff member may ask about pre-order codes and payment. These task are not simply fulfilled through question-answer sequences - they are most often concluded with a third turn by the sequence initiator. In our study we analyze task-completing turns that are constituted of assessments of the type 'good', 'excellent', 'perfect'.

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Why is it important?

Our study demonstrates the regularity of concluding assessments in task sequences. It also shows that there is variation as to how strong the assessing item is: a low-grade assessment like 'good' or a high-grade assessment like 'super'. Moreover, we show that this variation is patterned. It is of relevance whether the assessment is first in a series or not, the series-concluding assessments tending to be high-grade items. There is also striking variation with varieties of the same language (Swedish): in the data from Finland we find mostly low-grade assessments, whereas high-grade assessments are typical in the data from Sweden. This suggests that there are socio-cultural preferences for this interactional practice.


We found the work with this article very intriguing, because the interactional phenomenon patterned so clearly and the findings contribute nicely to the overarching project on pragmatic variation between Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish. The project is "Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages" - https://www.su.se/svefler/ivip/in-english/about-the-programme-ivip-interaction-and-variation-in-pluricentric-languages-1.120811

Professor Jan K Lindström
Helsingin Yliopisto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Task-Completing Assessments in Service Encounters, Research on Language and Social Interaction, April 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/08351813.2019.1581468.
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