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Re: [xmca] Is IRE Really Individually Oriented?
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Is IRE Really Individually Oriented?
- From: Jay Lemke <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2009 19:45:30 -0800
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I may wait to see the article and the specific context of the
discussion, but on the whole, I think I can assure David that
SOMETHING, for which IRE or IRF is a common placeholder term, is quite
a pervasive and specific mode of dialogic discourse in many sorts of
If you look only at the "bare bones" definition of it, then, yes,
there are analogues in other kinds of discourse, and you can even, in
its broader IRF form fit it, as David suggests, to many kinds of
But the real discourse phenomenon is not the bare bones form, it is
the more extended speech genre, which has a lot of other regularities
to it, and a rather horrifying ubiquity in classrooms where
informational knowledge is taken as the main objective, and where
there is a basic power relationship in which T is authorized to
question and judge S answers to questions.
As Gordon Wells has pointed out, IRE can be used to do some good in
teaching, though in my experience it tends to pull things back towards
the focus on informational knowledge. I have seen it used brilliantly
to stimulate students' thinking, but not often.
And there are many other discourse patterns in classrooms, and some
kinds of classes which downplay IRE in favor of alternatives.
Nothing else, however, is quite like it. The closest comparison of
which I am aware is to known-answer questioning of witnesses in some
legal proceedings, but even that really has a very different guiding
goal. I think that one of the most interesting things about IRE
analysis is the relationship of form and function, and while the form
has a certain austere elegance, the functions are not usually so pretty.
PS. The Socratic elenchus makes for another interesting comparison.
Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
University of California -- San Diego
La Jolla, CA
On Nov 27, 2009, at 4:49 PM, mike cole wrote:
I am afraid that the article has not been posted yet, David. Holiday
intervened with end of voting.
Your questions are very well motivated. And, just to make sure we
participation, I will alert the authors to that the paper is going
discussed. And Gordon Wells, who has his own bones to pick with the
formulation and Bud Mehan who is the usual citation as the old
gimper of the
On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 3:25 PM, David Kellogg <firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't know how many people have access to the new article for
(Gratier, Geenfield and Isaac). But I was reading it over last
The authors say (on p. 200) that Initiate-Response-(Ostensibly
Feedback, of which Evaluate is a common form) is a discourse format
"suits" individualistic cultural emphasis.
I have two qualms about this statement. The first is that I wonder
extend IRF (or IRE) is simply an artefact of analysis: ANYTHING
said as a
"starter" in an exchange constitutes an initiate and almost
response to the implicit demands in the starter is a response, with
optional feedback being either:
a) a response to the response (tacit communicative style)
b) an evaluation of the felicity of the exchange as a whole (more
Defined this way, I have found instances of IRE in almost EVERY
discourse I have ever analyzed, and I'm not at all sure that it is
common in classroom situations than elsewhere.
My second qualm is that I don't see any inherent link at all
and individualist cultural emphasis. If anything, I would say the
is true: IRE is well suited to T-Everyone exchanges and T-Anyone
and is rather LESS suited to T-Someone exchanges because the uptake
tends to be contingent and specific.
Is it possible that our feelings about IR(E) are simply a cultural
prejudice? I don't mean East-West culture; I mean a kind of smaller,
academic culture which sees IR(E) where it doesn't really exist and
sees in this largely imaginary unit of discourse a kind of neo-
where the E represents the bread offered to our salivating dogs,
offered to the pigeons, and the candy offered to the child.
If that were a true picture of IR(E), why would the E be the OPTIONAL
Seoul National University of Education
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