Conversation analysis (CA), rooted in the ethnomethodological tradition, conceptualizes understanding in interaction to be what is “locally, immediately, publicly, accessibly, sanctionedly and continually” (Moerman & Sacks, 1988, p. 185) demonstrated by participants through their verbal and embodied conduct. With this view in mind, the first generation of CA researchers discovered and described the “procedural infrastructure of interaction” (Schegloff, 1992, p. 1338), which serves as the “architecture of intersubjectivity” (Heritage, 1984, p. 254). Their findings have been incorporated and reconfirmed by a growing number of CA studies of multilingual interaction during the last two decades, in effect, affirming some universal principles of human sociality (Dingemanse, et al., 2015).
In the meantime, methodological challenges in adopting CA for the study of multilingual interaction have been acknowledged, but not yet been thoroughly discussed. The linguistic or cultural co-membership, for instance, may not be readily available for participants and researchers of multilingual interaction as a resource for analysis of observable conduct, while it was essential for classic CA works of monolingual interaction (Firth, 1996; Firth & Wagner, 2007). The current presentation revisits this issue through the close analysis of a few excerpts of multilingual interaction between a Japanese learner of English and three American learners of Japanese, all of whom are novice speakers of their respective second language. The analysis is informed by Stivers (2008), Mondada (2010), Goodwin (2013), Sidnell (2014), among others, who articulate different layers of structures – i.e., turns, actions, and stances – that operate in the process towards the achievement of intersubjectivity; it considers how the participants attend to these different layers of structures, while also attending to the exploration of w `hat are shared or unshared multilingual/multimodal resources.