Discovering order in opening sequences: calls to a software helpline (2001)

Author(s): Firth A; Baker C; Emmison M

    Notes: This is one of the first papers to present detailed analyses of naturally-occurring telephone helpline interactional materials. The paper examines how calls to a technical helpline are opened, and how the structures of the openings in the calls allow the participants to accomplish a variety of setting-relevant tasks, such as demonstrating and assessing technical competence. This allows call-takers (as ‘experts’) to question and instruct callers in ways that are commensurate with the caller’s technical ability and know-how. It also uncovers, describes, and discusses the significance of the narrative format of callers’ ‘problem descriptions’. In addition, the paper has a pedagogical focus, and demonstrates (through meta-commentaries) how discourse-focused, workplace-based research can be undertaken.

      • Book Title: How To Analyse Talk in Institutional Settings : A Casebook of Methods
      • Pages: 41-56
      • Publisher: Continuum
      • Publication type: Book chapter
      • Bibliographic status: Published

        Dr Alan Firth
        Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics