Re: [xmca] A Game of Yut

From: Gordon Wells <gwells who-is-at>
Date: Sat Oct 06 2007 - 17:52:36 PDT

Actually, I agree with you, David, and made just
such an analysis more than twenty years ago, in
an article I published with Martin Montgomery, if
I remember correctly. But, acknowledging the
relationship between the F move and the preceding
I-R exchange, it's analytically simpler to treat
it as the third move in a three-part exchange, as
proposed by Margaret Berry in her chapter in
Coulthard & Montgomery (1981).

But as you argue below
a) The teacher¡¯s turns almost always
consist of THREE moves rather than one. One is a
REACTING move (Cha and Mo). One is an COMMENTING
move (We throw the sticks, then). One is a
QUERYING move (What¡¯s this?) b) The
¡°stitch¡± between one exchange and the next
occurs in the MIDDLE of the teacher¡¯s turn, not
the end. (after Mo and before Then).

the third act in the F move is often the
initiation of a bound exchange, in which the
teacher solicits further information of some
kind. Together, the two (or more) exchanges make
up a sequence.


> Last week was Chuseok, the rice harvest
>festival, here in Korea. It¡¯s a time when
>families play Yut, a traditional game which is a
>little like parchesi played with divination
> About two weeks ago, one of my grads gathered
>this data. Like a lot of data transcribed from
>the teacher¡¯s point of view, it is written up
>as a kind of dialogue between one teacher called
>T and a monster that has forty bodies, but only
>two ears and one mouth, which appears as "S".
>Here's some fresh data, then:
> T: Children, look at this.[C] This is Yut. [S] OK? What's this?[Q]
> S: Yut!
> T: Yut.
> Two participants, three turns, six utterances
>(if we define the utterance as a real or
>potential change of speaker). Three of the
>utterances are grammatical sentences: those
>marked C for command (imperative), S for
>sentence (indicative declarative), and Q
>(indicative interrogative). Three utterances are
>not (which in my experience is pretty normal for
>classroom discourse).
> But how to explain the fact that we consider
>this to be a unit? I guess the usual explanation
>(Mehan, Sinclair and Coulthard, Nassaji and
>Wells) is that it IS a unit of triadic dialogue;
>it is one exchange of IRE (or IRF) and as such
>it consists of one initiate turn, one response
>turn, and one feedback/follow up/evaluate turn.
> This is a little hard to maintain when we look at the rest of the data.
> T: Cha, yucheul deonchyeosseyo (Now, we throw
>the divination sticks). What is this?
> S: Mo! ( A combination of four sticks)
> T: Mo! Then, what's this?
> As you can see, things are not so simple. We
>can¡¯t simply map Sinclair and Coulthard¡¯s
>moves onto physical turns on a one to one basis.
>There are two reasons we can¡¯t:
> a) The teacher¡¯s turns almost always
>consist of THREE moves rather than one. One is a
>REACTING move (Cha and Mo). One is an COMMENTING
>move (We throw the sticks, then). One is a
>QUERYING move (What¡¯s this?)
> b) The ¡°stitch¡± between one exchange
>and the next occurs in the MIDDLE of the
>teacher¡¯s turn, not the end. (after Mo and
>before Then).
> Why are the teacher¡¯s turns so very complex?
>And why don¡¯t the structural boundaries of the
>exchanges correspond to the physical boundaries
>(the changes in speaker)?
> One of Mehan¡¯s brilliant insights was to show
>that the traditional I-R-E exchange is not a
>modular unit. Exchanges do NOT go in any order.
>They are carefully ordered.
> But they are NOT ordered beforehand, at the
>beginning of the lesson. Instead, they are
>ordered in a post hoc fashion. The teacher takes
>a step, checks to see that the kids are
>following, and then takes the next one.
> Some of this checking is visual (the teacher
>checks eye contact and facial expression instead
>of asking a question), and that¡¯s why the
>teacher¡¯s moves look so complex. That three
>part turn is really THREE turns:
> T: T: Cha (teacher checks eye contact),
>yucheul deonchyeossoyeo (Now, we throw the
>devination sticks). (teacher checks facial
>expressions) What is this? (teacher checks
>verbal understanding)
> T: Mo! (Teacher smiles to show this is the
>right answer and children smile back) Then,
>(Teacher pauses to show that a new set of
>devination rods is under construction. Teacher
>checks that all children are looking at the
>devination rods before asking¡¦) what¡¯s this?
> But some of the checking is not visual. A lot
>of it happens, believe it or not, is through
>that nasty, monologic, dictatorial EVALUATE move.
> Evaluate is NOT, contrary to what Sinclair and
>Coulthard felt, an evaluate of the student¡¯s
>response. Instead, it¡¯s an evaluate of the
>felicity or satisfactoriness of the WHOLE
>EXCHANGE. If that¡¯s okay (from the point of
>view of action), the teacher goes on. But if
>it¡¯s NOT satisfactory, here¡¯s what happens.
> T: Cha, OK. Look at this. Look at the screen.
>(shows a chart on the video screen)
> S: Cancel!
> T: This ¡°Do¡± means [Cancel!].[S]
> S: Candy!
> T: Oh! No, no. Ha ha. This ¡®µµ¡¯ means
>¡®Cancel!¡¯. Teonjin Geosi Modu, Modu Yeoreo
>beon Deonjyeodo Muhyoga dwineun geoyeyo! (The
>throw is all, all every time you throw this,
>it¡¯s all cancelled.) Repeat after me. (Gestures
>¡°X¡± with both hands)
> S: Cancel! Candy!
> T: OK. Look at this sheet. This will help you.
> The exchange is extended. The way it is
>extended is by the Evaluate move, of course.
> I think Mehan's great insight means that there
>is a kind of RANKSHIFT in the evaluate move.
>It¡¯s not just an operation, not just a response
>to operational conditions. But it¡¯s not an
>ACTIVITY, either; if it were that, it would
>occur at the very beginning of the lesson,
>laying out the motives for the whole lesson in
>quite general terms (¡°This is an English
>lesson.¡± Or ¡°Today we¡¯re going to learn X¡±).
> It¡¯s an action: it¡¯s motivated by the goal
>of successfully completing one exchange
>(operation) and moving on to the next. But it's
>an action that is embedded in the ongoing
> I can guess that I will catch hell from Tony
>for saying this. And Gordon Wells himself will
>probably object tool (because for Gordon it¡¯s
>the SEQUENCE and not the EXCHANGE that is
>operational). But there¡¯s an advantage to
>thinking about it this way.
> The payoff is that we can consider the
>¡°Evaluate¡± move as a form of
>RANKSHIFT&#8212;it¡¯s BOTH an operation (because
>it¡¯s a response to the response and so part of
>the exchange) and an action (commentary on the
>whole exchange and so part of the sequence).
> It¡¯s the same as a grammatical rankshift. When we say:
> That he won is not surprising!
> we get a clause "That he won" rankshifting
>down, like God made flesh, an immortal clause
>pretending to be a mortal noun subject. In the
>same way, the Evaluate is an action incarnating
>itself as an operation.
> In Gordon¡¯s 1996 article in MCA (Using the
>Toolkit of Discourse in the Activity of Learning
>and Teaching, MCA 3(2), pp. 74-101) he tries to
>articulate activity theory with systemic
>functional linguistics (Hallidayan grammar).
> I think the earlier article doesn¡¯t work very well because
> a) activity theory works WELL above the
>level of exchange and Hallidayan grammar for the
>most part is concerned with clauses.
> b) The activity theory that Gordon
>presents is REDUCTIONIST: activities are NOTHING
>but their constituent actions, and actions are
>ONLY made up of operations.
> It seems to me that if we go back to Mehan and
>understand the Evaluate move as a bit of
>rankshift, we get around both of these problems:
> a) The Evaluate move takes part in BOTH
>the operation (the exchange) and the action (the
>sequence) (Mo! That¡¯s right! So¡¦)
> b) The action is more than just the sum
>of its parts, because the Evaluate move is not
>simply reactive but also pro-active, and even
>proleptic, bringing the next exchange into focus
>for the children (Mo! Then¡¦).
> I think we also might get a little closer to
>the key problem that Nassaji and Wells tackle:
>why are SOME tripartite dialogues so much better
>than others?
> A friend of mine wrote (partly in response to
>the Craig business) that the difference between
>lesbian and straight has very little to do with
>whom you actually sleep with; it¡¯s to do with
>whose love really helps you get things done and
>get on with your life.
> In the same way, we might say that some
>tripartite dialogues look forward, and others
>look back. Some dialogues teach, and others
>merely test. (And in the same way, we might say
>that it is not the same for everybody!)
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> PS: A native speaker thought on the data:
>Hmmmm....must tell Hojin that "then" is not
>really the same as "so".
> Second thoughts: Says who?
> dk
>Luggage? GPS? Comic books?
>Check out fitting gifts for grads at Yahoo! Search.
>xmca mailing list

Gordon Wells
Department of Education
University of California, Santa Cruz
xmca mailing list
Received on Sat Oct 6 17:57 PDT 2007

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