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Order in Second Language Conversation
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Sacks’ famous claim of order at all points (1995:484) is at the heart of Conversation Analysis. For the participants, order means that the behavior of others becomes recognizable, accountable and meaningful and for the analyst that it becomes conceivable to understand and analyze the behavior of participants in interaction at all. Order is found in the formation and recognition of social activities.

Another aspect of order is what Schegloff in his introduction to Sacks’ lectures calls the ‘holographic model’ that “understands order not to be present only at aggregate levels and therefore subject to an overall differential distribution, but to be present in detail on a case by case, environment by environment basis. A culture is not then to be found only by aggregating all of its venues; it is substantially present in each of its venues.” (McHoul, 2009).

The claim of ‘order at all points’ begs the question whether and how order can be broken. Garfinkel demonstrated that breaching the order puts the membership of the breacher at stake. Order becomes visible in its instantiations where it works and whenever it is broken, i.e. when cultural membership is challenged. The classical mundane case of marking somebody as a non-member is speaking another language.

It is a tricky business to figure out when speaking another language makes a speaker recognizable as a foreigner. This is not necessarily the case. But being categorized as a foreigner makes breaches of order acceptable which however always can be revoked. The paper investigates a number of instances of second language interaction where order is challenged to find out what it takes to do that and what consequences this has for the participants.

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