Analysis of Language Use in Selected Contexts
i. In Extract 1 of the telephone conversation between AN and CW the girls use cohesive devices at the grammatical level to move the conversations along without repeating the same names over and over again. The first part of the conversation AN starts out by referring to a telephone call she received from Gary for Valentine’s Day. CW asks if “it” (meaning Valentine’s Day) reminded “him” (meaning Gary) of you (referring to AW) and she responds using the pronoun he that both understood to be Gary. Later on CW while talking about mentions Steve and then refers to “him.”Because they were closely following the conversation, they both knew when he, him and it referred to Gary, Steve, Valentine’s Day or the camping trip. Later on, they are talking about the preparations for the trip and they first refer to “meat,” then “sheep,” then the word “that.” These are all cohesive devices common in day to day discourse.
ii. Each of these works as lexical cohesive devices because both girls know that in the first reference to him the context refers to Gary. When the topic switches to the camping trip CW mentions “Steve” so they both know that “him” now refers to Steve. The instance with the meat is more interesting. The transition from meat to that is as simple as from Gary or Steve to him. However, the word sheep refines the meaning to meat from a particular animal and they make the transition seamlessly.
iii. In contrast to contextual, lexical cohesive devices, exophoric cohesion refers to something out of context, or that could be interpreted in more than one way. At the start of the conversation referring to meat CW starts out saying to “the thing’s on next week” then the conversation moves on to talk about the camping trip and meat. At this point, I felt initially a little confused because I did not know what the “thing” was. Because the excerpt broke off and resumed later on, I was not sure from the conversation alone if they were discussing the camping trip, the thing or some other type of party in which meat would be served. The head notes in the text mentioned preparation for the camping trip, so I assumed the sheep meat to be food for a camping trip. However, without that note I would not have understood that.
One of the turns in the conversation is when the girls move from the thing to the camping trip. This is a clear completion point from one subject to the next. The thing is not mentioned at any later point in the conversation. At an earlier point they go from talking about CW wanting to see Steve before the goes away. This signals a more subtle turning point. Neither speaks again about why, where or when she is going, the excerpts move into preparing for the camping trip and her leaving is no longer mentioned, along with any further reference to spending time with Steve. This allows the conversations to overlap and make a transition without making a clear break.
In this way, it points out some considerations that an uninvolved listener must make when analyzing an ex parte conversion. Participants either know or can ask each other if they are talking about the same thing. An uninvolved listener can assume, or choose not to be convinced if the people speaking are referring to the same or earlier subject. The meat could just as easily be for the thing AN was talking about earlier. In a court of law, that could constitute believable deniability.