Exploring Affiliation in the Reception of Conversational Complaint Stories

Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen

in Emotion in Interaction

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730735
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950034 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Exploring Affiliation in the Reception of Conversational Complaint Stories

Show Summary Details


This chapter investigates the linguistic resources deployed by recipients of conversational complaint stories to show affiliation (or not) with the teller, affiliation being understood as the display of support and endorsement for a conveyed affective stance, here typically anger and/or indignation. Among the verbal means for affiliative reception are claims of understanding, congruent negative assessments and by-proxy justifications, while factual follow-up questions, minimal responses and withholdings are shown to be non-affiliative. As a rule, affiliative verbal devices are accompanied by prosodic matching or upgrading, while non-affiliative ones have prosodic downgrading. The affiliative import of response cries is shown to depend even more heavily on prosodic matching or upgrading, although the transitoriness of prosody makes verbal reinforcement a desideratum. All in all, the data discussed here present a complex picture of what it takes to come across as affiliative in response to a conversational complaint story, but one not lacking in systematicity.

Keywords: affiliation; affective stance; complaint stories; response cries; prosodic matching

Chapter.  11608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.