Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)





The field of speech errors and repairs is a relatively new one. Repairs have been studied from a number of anoles, notably by Scheqloff, Jefferson and Sacks (1977) and Jefferson (1974). Scheqloff et al. saw merit in investigating repairs because of their role as a "self-riqhtinq mechanism for the organization of language in social interaction." They focused, for the first time, on the repair rather than the error. Jefferson suggested in her paper that repairs miqht have an even more important role than the correctional one--that they are in fact, an interactional resource. The use of certain phrases, lexical items , or even speech acts may mark a speaker with a certain role or status within· a restricted domain. "Errors" and their repairs allow speakers a wide ranqe of meanino. Jefferson cites the lexical pair ''cop'' and ''officer" in repairs such as:

I told that to thuh--uh--officer.

She claims that the speaker beqan to say "cop" as evidenced by the use of "thuh" rather than "thee" which would ordinarily be used before a word beqinning with a vowel such as "officer." She contends that this pair ~mon~rates contrastive domains of talk, alan~ with their appropriate roles for speakers. She chooses clearly defined pairs such as the above, or "Negro" and"colored"; but of course, many utterances cannot be so clearly attached to specific roles or domains.

The purpose of this study of simulated negotiation sessions is to present a taxonomy for certain types of repairs and give further evidence for the claim that repairs are an interactional resource and, as such, are a part of native speaker competence. It can be seen from the data below that, while structural changes made in repairs may vary a great deal, changes in content are generally of two types: those which adjust the force of an uttemnce and those which shift its focus. Because speakers are often well into the first portion of an utterance before changing strategies, the hearer is in a good position to decode both portions of the utterance. The hearer thus has access to two, sometimes contradictory, messages. Furthermore, the speaker may use these paired messages to imply dual meanings.