4.2.4.7 Interruption and overlap

The discussion is distinctive amongst the other five discussions assessed by the S.E.B. for the quantity of overlapping speech it contains. The overlaps seem overwhelmingly to function co-operatively, although by a formal definition some overlaps are interruptions. However, G5, G6, and G7 all appear to produce overlaps and interruptions to the same extent, and to be equally on the receiving end of both, which suggests that interruptions are not linked to an hierarchical group structure in the cases of these three pupils' interactions with each other. G8, on the other hand, twice does interrupt the others when she speaks, and does not participate in the co-operative overlapping speech.

On many occasions, speakers overlap by only one word, and there are also longer, or repeated instances of overlapping speech. One extended instance of overlapping speech occurs between lines 2-6 amongst G5, G6, and G7:

2. G5: to just go up and say I'm sorry but I'm a woman

G6: but Viola is the one that's dressed up as a

3. G5: =uhuh as a boy she's not going to just go up and

G6: servant=

4. G5: say I'm sorry but I'm a woman

G6: and and but she knows (.) but she

G7: I think she's going to leave I think she'll

5. G5: =she'll just leave=

G6: knows she's female so she won't she won't exactly (.)

G7: just leave= =she'll just leave with her

6. G5: =no

G6: fall for her will she=

G7: brother =but does she know she's female

The speakers are here involved in complex relationships of turns and responses. All three overlap each other at line 4, but from the responses they make to each other, it appears that everyone is listened to, and that noone feels their turn has been disregarded, or that they have been deprived of the floor.

The first instance in the discussion where one speaker takes the floor from another, who clearly had not completed what she wanted to say, occurs at lines 27-29:

27. G7: =so

28. G5: =I know=

G6: =oh no way=

G7: what was the (XXXX) =so

G8: she'll never manage to stick it out=

29. G5: =ehm a

G7: what one's first=

G8 interrupts G7 before G7 has completed her turn, and the end of G7's turn is lost. G5 and G6 respond to G8's utterance, rather than G7's, apparently giving their tacit consent to G8's interruption of G7. This is a further example of G8's distinctive competitive behaviour in the group. G5, G6, and G7 act co-operatively with respect to overlapping speech, while G8 is competitive. This is a case, however, where the relationships between participants prior to the discussion seem to be influencing the interaction.


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