Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


20 November 2019

Bogdana Huma, Marc Alexander & Elizabeth Stokoe - "The order of accounting"

Presented By DARG
  • 13:00 - 14:30
  • SMB010, Stewart Mason Building

About this event

The order of accounting in ‘reason-for-calling’ in domestic and institutional telephone calls

Our project draws on telephone calls from domestic and several institutional settings (e.g., calls to mediation services, to environmental health helplines and B2B ‘cold’ calls). We are interested in how callers construct their ‘reason for calling’ across these diverse settings in relation to the interactional functions of this key structural component of a telephone conversation.

Prior conversation analytic research on domestic telephone calls documented that and how the ‘reason for calling’ announces the ostensible purpose of the call (Couper-Kuhlen, 2001a, 2001b; Curl, 2006). The examination of institutional telephone calls revealed that callers also use this slot to account for how they ended up calling this institution at this time (Sacks, 1989). We have provisionally labelled these two ‘types’ of accounts ‘in order to’ and ‘because of’ reasons for calling (cf. Burke, 1950; Schütz, 1953). We are interested in understanding when and why one or both accounts are produced, and how they are ordered with respect to each other and to other structural components of a telephone conversation.


Burke, K. (1950). The rhetoric of motive. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2001a). Constructing reason-for-the-call turns in everyday telephone conversation. InLiSt - Interaction and Linguistic Structures25. Retrieved from https://kops.uni-konstanz.de/handle/123456789/3808

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2001b). Interactional prosody: high onsets in reason-for-the-call turns. Language in Society30(1), 29–53. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/language-in-society/article/interactional-prosody-high-onsets-in-reasonforthecall-turns/7CBF5D8BFB85586FDFF1F42A1CBA7A82

Curl, T. S. (2006). Offers of assistance: constraints on syntactic design. Journal of Pragmatics38(8), 1257–1280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.09.004

Sacks, H. (1989). Lecture ten: accountable actions. Human Studies12(3/4), 321–332.

Schütz, A. (1953). Common-sense and scientific interpretation of human action. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research14(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-2851-6_1