Copyright © 2017, Parole: Journal of Linguistics and Education, p-ISSN 2087-345X, e-ISSN 2338-0683
Parole: Journal of Linguistics and Education, 7 (2), 2017, 53-64
Available online at: http://ejournal.undip.ac.id/index.php/parole
Interruptions and Silences in Conversations: A Turn-Taking
, Ninuk Krismanti, Yulieda Hermaniar
STKIP PGRI Banjarmasin, Jl. Adam Sultan complex H. Iyus No. 18 Rt 23, Banjarmasin, Sungai Jingah, Banjarmasin Utara, Kota
Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Selatan, Indonesia 70121
A B S T R A C T
This study is set to investigate the purposes behind interruptions and the
meanings of silences in conversations. The data are taken from three casual
conversations among friends. To analyze the data, the recorded conversations
are first transcribed based on Jefferson’s the Glossary of Transcript Symbols
(Jefferson, 2004). The transcribed conversations are analyzed using turn-
taking approach in Conversation Analysis. To interpret the results of analysis,
inferential method is applied. As the findings, the writers find that speakers
interrupt for two purposes: to complete turns and to cut them. To go deeper,
speakers interrupt when they have shared knowledge and/or similar
perspective on something. In terms of silence, the meanings behind it are
highly dependent on what are uttered prior to or after the occurrence of
silence. Silences can indicate topic switch, speaker’s wish to continue the
same topic, and disagreement. In a conversation, silences lead to awkward
situations among speakers and show troubles in conversation flows.
A R T I C L E I N F O
Received 13 December 2017
Revised 14 September 2018
Accepted 20 September 2018
Having conversation has been the very nature of human. We converse to achieve agreement, gain support,
express opinion, or even show domination. Despite being part of daily routines, conversations never fail to make
linguists raise questions. What makes good conversations? What indicates a topic switch? We can go on and on
making questions related to conversations. As the result, conversations have been topics of analysis in many
studies. This study is another attempt to scientifically explore conversations.
In this study, the writers intend to analyze interruption and silence which are commonly found in a
conversation. Interruption occurs when a speaker cuts other speakers’ turn when they are still in the middle of
their turn. However, some conversationalists would call this situation as ‘overlap’ instead of ‘interruption’.
Some researchers would draw a line between these two terms, claiming that each term meant differently from
another. Nugroho & Lisetyo (2014) defined overlap and interruption differently. While overlap is regarded as
positive feature since it shows enthusiasm and solidarity, interruption is regarded as negative feature since it
violates other speaker’s turn. In this article, however, the writers place overlap and interruption under one
discussion of interruption since there is not clear cut between them yet. These two terms might be considered
as two different features but they might also be regarded as interruption only.
E-mail Addresses: email@example.com (A. Lestary), firstname.lastname@example.org (N. Krismanti),
email@example.com (Y. Hermaniar)
A. Lestary et al. | Parole: Journal of Linguistics and Education, 7 (2), 2017 | 54
Some studies have been conducted to investigate interruption. Zimmerman & House (1975), for example,
claimed that interruption displays power and dominance. The infamous result, later, has been referred in many
following studies of different researchers. Another researcher, Li (2001), explored interruption by using
different approach. In her study, she investigated interruption based on the cultural background of the speakers
– Canadian and Chinese.
Quite the opposite of interruption, as mention in many studies, the absence of words might also carry a
meaning. Thus, the writers believe that silence could also indicate the situation or the feelings of the participants.
It is surely understandable that participants of conversation, especially casual conversation, would expect
harmonious exchange of turns in order to create smooth conversations. The smooth conversations will
eventually induce sense of belonging. Meanwhile, disrupted conversations will be resulted on negative feelings
such as the feeling of being rejected.
It is, in fact, not uncommon to find silence(s) during a conversation. However, Jefferson (1989) stated that
the maximum standard of silence is only 1 second before the speakers start feeling uncomfortable and try to
terminate it. Thus, when no speaker is attempting to break the silence, the conversation will be regarded as
troubled conversation (Koudenburg, Postmes, & Ernestine, 2011).
There have been some studies conducted to investigate silence in conversations. Ephratt (2008), for example,
explore some theories regarding silence. In his article, he elaborated the many functions of silence in which he
claimed that silence in conversation could express many emotions. Quite similar study by Cwodhury et al.
(2017) found that silence, indeed, has important role in a talk. It might indicate that the next speaker requires
more time to response the previous turn. Silence, particularly a long one, may indicate hesitation or
indecisiveness of a speaker. All in all, it is obvious that silence never means nothing.
This study is composed based on the following research problems:
a. What are the purposes of speakers in doing interruption?
b. What does silence mean in conversations?
2. Research Method
As this study is aimed at describing the real condition of certain language phenomena, this study is conducted
under descriptive qualitative research design. The conversations investigated in this study are casual
conversations taking place in three different occasions. The data are recorded and then transcribed based on
Jefferson’s Glossary of Transcript Symbols (Jefferson, 2004). The data are analyzed using turn-taking approach
in Conversation Analysis. The analysis is based on Sack’s framework of CA. Furthermore, to describe the
findings deeper, the writers apply inferential method. Inferential method refers to the process of data
interpretation that takes researcher’s prior knowledge into account (Krippendorff, 2004).
In this study, interruption is marked with [ ] and =. Symbol [ ] represents a speaker’s interruption of another
speaker. Symbol = represents a speaker’s immediate turn taking as the response to currently speaking speaker’s
utterance. Moreover, silence is marked with ( ). The number inside the symbol represents the length of silence
3. Findings and Discussion
The discussion is divided into two parts. The purposes of interruptions are presented in the first part. The
interpretations of meanings behind silence are presented in the later part of discussion.
The occurrence of interruption can be used as a marker for lively conversation which means that the participants
engage actively during the talk. The interruption found in the data of this research is mostly not intended to bail
the clash but to build the membership instead. Even if there is any interruption occurred to bail the clash, it is
not significant in numbers.
Based on the data, there are two different purposes of interruption.
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3.1.1. The Purposes of Interruption
In the conversations where the speakers know each other and possess equal power, the interruption may reflect
the membership of the speakers. The data of this study show that there are two purposes of interruption: to
complete turns and to cut other turns.
220.127.116.11. Completing other’s turns
Based on the data, it is found that other participants of the talks occasionally continue the current speakers’
utterances even though there is no indication if the current speakers have finished their turns or not. This
continuation is regarded as interruption since it usually occurs with no or very slight gap between the last word
of the current speakers and the first word of the following speakers. The purpose of this interruption is to
complete the other speakers’ turns. By completing their speaking opponents’ turns, the speakers are trying to
put themselves in the same position with their speaking opponents.
Extract 1. The conversation involved three speakers: D, H and M. They were talking about the partner of H.
D: Bulelengmu orang mana sekarang? (142)
where is your new husband from?
H: Ga ada buleleng (143)
there is no husband
D: Suamimu orang mana sekarang? (144)
where is your new husband from?
H: Udah ga ada buleleng= (145)
there is no husband already=
M: =Meninggal! (146)
H: Yang di jerman putus= (147)
the on in Germany break up=
M: =yang meninggal itu yang lama yang biasa ngirim sepuluh jeti lima (148)
=the died one is the one who usually send ten million five
juta buat yang di rumah kalo dia ya bule Australia kirimnya ya (149)
million for those in the house foreigner from Australia send
empat belas – seribu empat ratus (150)
fourteen – one thousand four hundred
H Itu kemaren bule yang itu bule mana tu? (151)
that foreigner from yesterday where is he from?
D: Yang mana? (152)
M: Bukan bule itu hafis orang padang (153)
that’s not foreigner that’s hafis from Padang
H: Bukan bule ya? (154)
In this extract, when D gave question to H in turn (142), it seemed that D was not satisfied with H’s answer in
turn (143). D, then, repeated his question in turn (144), expecting different answer, yet H said the same answer
in (145). Apparently, M knew about H’s situation and interrupted H’s turn in (146). In turn (148), again, M
completed H’s turn. These interruptions show that H and M know each other and they belong to the same group
while D does not.
If M did not interrupt H in turn (146), H most likely would not tell about his ex-partners. D’s repeated
question might imply the assumption he had before he delivered the question. D assumed that H had partner at
the time being. Therefore, when H answered the question by saying “Ga ada buleleng” (“I did not have one) in
turn (143), D might think that H was joking or trying to fool him. Thus, he repeated the question, expecting H
to answer honestly. It was M’s interruption in turn (146) that told the story about H’s partner and at the same
time, ensuring D that H was not lying or trying to fool D.
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M’s interruptions are possible to occur only because both M and H are having close relationship, or in this
case, they belong to the same group. For that reason, it can be said that M unconsciously exposed his
membership as well as H’s. The following extract gives more example of how speakers complete their
Sacks (1995) argued that an utterance belongs to the speaker who produces it. Thus, if other speakers try to
complete the utterance, it implies a certain reason for doing so. The interruptions given during the conversation
might represent the position of the speakers. Based on the data, the participants of the conversations would
expose their positions or their membership through the interruption they made during the talks.
In extract 1, completing each other’s turn shows that the speakers know about their counterparts' lives or, at
the very least, they know what their counterparts have in their minds. Even if their assumptions regarding their
counterparts' judgment is wrong, they are confident enough that they will not be accused or judged wrongly by
their counterparts. The speakers also realize that all of the participants share equal power and are in the situation
where it is acceptable to interrupt each other.
Edwards and Middleton in Koudenburg (2011) suggested that talking in unison or completing each other
indicates the synchronization of information and behavior among the speakers. It also implies that the
participants have reached consensus. Thus, completing each other’s turns reflects an attempt done by the
participants to present themselves as part of the same group. In conclusion, the presence of interruption indicates
the group membership of the participants.
18.104.22.168. Cutting other’s turn
Interruption does not only occur in the situation where the speakers are attempting to complete their speaking
opponents’ turn. It might also occur in the situation where the second speaker cuts the first speaker before the
utterance is completed. However, this interruption cannot be regarded as an attempt to control the floor and gain
domination. It, in the contrarty, can be regarded as a mark of lively and collaborative conversation. The
following extract will give more insight on the situations where cutting other speakers’ turn is regarded as an
effort to develop and maintain membership.
Extract 2. The conversation involved R and Y who were talking about R’s partner.
R: Doi kan banker tapi kan ga tau deh we’ll see lah (3) (68)
he is a bangker but I have no idea we’ll just see (3)
Y: I’m sure kalo cuma kayak gitu doang kalo ga ada keseriusan bakalan (69)
I’m sure if it’s only like that if there is no serious intention it will
[berganti] mak cik (70)
[change] mak cik
R: [Iya] (71)
Y: Percaya deh (72)
R: Iya maksud gue juga kan nyari yang bener gitu loh maksudnya kalo (73)
yes I mean I also try to find the right one I mean if
kitanya ga tau dia kayak gimana [kalo ga dicobain] (74)
we have no idea what kind of person he is [if we do not try]
Y: [Elunya sendiri] Elunya sendiri ga (75)
[you yourself] you yourself having no
ada niat? (76)
R: Ga ada niat apa? (77)
having no intention of what?
Y: Ada niat? (77)
In this extract, R first interrupted Y in turn (71) by saying “iya” (yes). This short utterance was produced to
show R’s agreement toward Y’s opinion. Later, Y interrupted R in (75)-(76). However, the interruption done
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by Y cannot be considered as destructive since Y did not intend to dominate the conversation. Y’s turn was
delivered in form of question which was directed back to R. The question itself focuses on R’s opinion and
feeling. Y’s interruption could be regarded as an attempt to build membership during the conversation because
he tried to get to know more about R’s situation and also his feeling.
Based on the finding and the discussion above, it can be seen that the presence of interruption, either to
complete or to cut other turns, reflects collaborative interaction. Coates in Caskey (2011) stated that it is
common for participants of casual conversation to contribute to the interaction at the same time as form of
cooperative act. It indicates the participants’ willingness to work together in building the conversation. This
collaborative interaction would, in the end, create comfortable situation for the participants to create sense of
Furthermore, interruption implies the synchronization of information and behavior among the speakers. It is
in accordance to Koudenburg (2011) who stated that synchronic moving people are perceived as a group. Thus,
it can be concluded that interruption is an indicator of lively conversations, and it implies the membership of
3.1.2. The Interpretation of the Interruption
The data of this study show that interruptions indicate shared knowledge and similar perspective of the
participants. These shared knowledge and perspective, then, would be the basic ground for the participants to
claim their membership, either they belong to the same group or not. It is found that the speakers who share the
same knowledge and also the same perspective would either complete or cut their counterparts’ turns, as
22.214.171.124. Shared Knowledge
Based on the data, the speakers who have shared knowledge would comfortably complete each other’s turns or
cut their counterparts’ utterances. The following extract gives more insight about this finding.
Extract 3. A and R was discussing about what A had done after he quitted his job as a radio broadcaster.
A: dua tahun lo ri bayangkan kam dua tahun apa yang aku gawi tu lah= (88)
Two years ri, just imagine for two years. What I have done during that=
R: =Macam-macam ja lo pian nih? (89)
=you have done many things right?
A: Apanya yang macam-macam? Aku bekawan banyak ja jar ku [kada] (90)
What do you mean by many things? I mean I have many friends [not]
R: [Kada] (91)
seikung dua ja kalo apa ja kawa digawi (92)
only one or two many things can be done
In the previous turns, they were talking about A who had left his job as radio broadcaster and the A tried to
recall what he had been done afterwards. In the extract above, it is clear that R is trying to show that he knows
what R had been doing. It began with a completion of A’s turn by R in (89). Without any hesitation and any
gap, R complete A’s turn by stating that A had done many things. Another interruption by R occurred once
again when A was delivering his turn in (90). In the second interruption, R cut A’s turn before A finished his
Both of R’s interruptions reflect R’s knowledge about A’s background and about some situations A had been
through. By completing and cut A’ turn, R imposes the fact that he knows about A. At the same time, R develops
the sense of belonging between him and A.
126.96.36.199. Similar Perspective
The findings of the study show that interruption can indicate support and agreement. The following extract gives
more insight about this.
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Extract 4. Y and R were talking about a guy who was recently close to Y
Y: Dia ituh dia kaya ngelakuin (2) memperlakukan gue enak aja nyaman (110)
he he is like do (2) treat me nice like just being comfortable
gitu sebenernya sama personalitynya dia gue juga ga seratus persen in (111)
actually with his personality I am also not a hundred percent very in
R: kalo kata gue ya kalo udah dapat gitu mendingan lu jalanin dulu aja (112)
In my opinion if you already have like this it’s better to just go on with him
tapi jangan terlalu pake hati [yang gimana gitu] itu kan sakit (113)
but just do not give wholeheartedly [things like that] that hurts
Y: [iya iya iya] iya I know I know (114)
[yes yes yes] yes I know I know
gue udah anticipate maksudnya ibaratnya kalo misalkan ga ada dia (115)
I already anticipate I mean if for example he is not there anymore
gimana ya udah ga pa pa ga masalah (116)
well that’s okay not a problem
In this extract, Y tried to show his agreement toward R’s opinion in turn (114) by saying “iya iya iya” (yes yes
yes). Y wanted to point out that he understood R’s argument and he stood on the same position with R. This
interruption is delivered by Y to present himself as part of the same group with R.
Furthermore, it is also found that the speakers of the talk do not necessarily know every story delivered by
their counterparts during the talk. However, it does not hold the speakers from uttering their opinions. The
opinions uttered are most likely based on the assumption that the participants understand each other’s situation
and they know how it feels to be in similar situation. Thus, the speakers can confidently cut or complete their
counterpart’s turn to utter their opinions. The example of this can be seen in the following extract.
Extract 5. A and R were talking about A’s work as an Event Organizer
A: tapi kalau di jawa kan banyak urang properti ke itu ja kan banyak= (18)
But if it is in Java they have many properties like that
R: =Iya kan bisa diambil yang kegitu gitu (19)
=yes things like that can be taken
A: Tempat [mun di sini masa ke Jakarta] (20)
The place [if it is in here then it is impossible going to Jakarta]
R: [Di sini dimana nyarinya?] (21)
[where (we) can find it in here?]
In this extract, A and R were talking about the properties related to A’s job as an Event Organizer. A complained
about how hard it was to find specific properties in their city. R immediately agreed to A’s opinion and without
any hesitation complete A’s turn in (19). During the following turn of A in (20), R showed another agreement
to A’s complain by interrupting A in turn (21).
The interruptions occur in the previous extract are regarded as cooperative interruptions since they are
intended to show the same perspective among the speakers. The interruption represents the effort of the speakers
to maintain their group membership. According to Tannen (1994), interruption does not only show dominance,
but it can be used to establish solidarity as well. Interruption can be used to construct a cooperative talking in
which the participants try to establish solidarity and creating connection.
In the conversations, it is essential for the participants to find any common ground among the speakers. The
common ground will be the construction of fluent conversation. The common ground is usually claimed through
simultaneous exchange of shared knowledge and similar perspective. Based on the extracts presented above, it
can be concluded that interruption, either as a completion of others turn or a cut in counterparts’ turn, can imply
the membership of the participants of the talk. The presence of interruption represents the similar knowledge
and perspective shared among the members of the group.
Furthermore, the conversations where each participant can freely interrupt other speakers indicate the fluency
of the conversations and the equal power shared among the participants. According to Koudenburg et al. (2011),
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fluent conversations induce higher level of belongings. It means that the presence of interruption in a
conversation reflects the in-group membership among the participants.
Every part of conversations has meaning, including a short humming and even the absence of words or silence.
Silence may represent different meaning based on what occur prior or after the silence. The following extract is
an example of how silence can indicate two different meanings.
Extract 5. Y and R were talking about Y’s current close friend
Y: Engga diedit sih engga cuman takutnya kan ga ngerti jadinya dia (105)
not edited no just afraid that she does not understand so
putus putus ya ini kata apa artinya apa gituh ga bakal ada di (106)
broken of like what this word means or what will not be exist in
ensiklopedia (7) kalo gue gini loh orientasi gue yang sekarang ya ya (107)
encyclopedia right now I’m like this my preference well well
berbeda-beda maksudnya berubah-ubah gitu lo kayak (4) (108)
different I mean I’m changing like like
R: Kayak apa? (109)
Y: Dia ituh dia kaya ngelakuin (2) memperlakukan gue enak aja nyaman (110)
he he is like do (2) treat me nice like just being comfortable
In this extract, the silence in turn (107) occurred due to the failure in speaker changing. Y probably expected R
to give response for his utterances in the previous turn, but it turned out that R did not provide any comment or
additional information. This situation indicates that R was not interested in the topic anymore or he did not feel
it was important to discuss about the current matter further. Thus, R gave signal to Y by saying nothing.
Meanwhile, the silence in turn (108) indicates that the current speaker, Y, was still trying to compose how
he should explain further about his previous statement of “kalo gue gini loh orientasi gue yang sekarang ya
berbeda-beda ya maksudnya berubah-ubah gitu lo kayak” (“I am like this my orientation right now varied well
I mean changing like”). Jefferson (1989) stated that the maximum standard of silence is about 1 second before
the participants of the talks would usually try to terminate the silence. Thus, R, who thought that the silence had
been too long decided to fill the silence. Yet, R also had no ide what Y was trying to say so he only gave a
clarification question of “Kayak apa?” (“Like what?”) when he took the floor in turn (109), demanding a further
explanation from Y.
When Y was taking his turn in (110), he tried to answer R’s question but it turned out that he still needed
some time to collect his thought. Thus, another silence emerged for two seconds. During the second silence, R
realized Y had not finished his utterance while he himself still had no idea where the conversation was going
and could not complete Y’s turn. Thus, R decided to just let Y held the floor.
The silences in (108) and (110) depict the situation where silence occurs after a topic is raised. The speaker
initiating the topic still needs some time to elaborate the initial utterance. As stated by Maynard (1980), while
one speaker provides topic developments, the other may produce response to the utterance to continue the topic.
However, in the situation where the counterpart has not grabbed where the conversation is heading, silence most
likely occurred. In this kind of situation, silence means that the participants have not reached an agreement
about the topic of the talk. It is in contrast with the interruption that commonly occurs when the speakers have
agreed on the topic and when they are in the process of negotiating their judgment and knowledge.
By observing the data, the writers found that the participants who can successfully build membership engage
actively during the conversations resulting on smooth conversations. The writers also found that silence rarely
occurs in the smooth conversations. In contrast, the data of the study show that the high frequency of silence
indicates troubled conversations since the silence is triggered by conflict prior to it. There are two prominent
problems triggering the occurrence of silence: different shared knowledge and disagreement.
As the conversation goes, the participants will show their sense of belonging among each other. However,
there are situations where the participants find that they have different circle of friends. This is resulting in
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different shared knowledge. The silences on the following extract represent the different shared knowledge
among the participants.
Extract 6. D and M were talking about two different people at almost the same time
D: Itu sekong itu? (103)
that person is gay?
M: ee ini apah agak sembunyi-sembunyi kalo itu (1) nah jadi hendrik (104)
ee…. that person is kind of hiding (1) so Hendrik that
itu anak orang cina sebenarnya ibunya bapaknya kan orang padang (105)
kid is actually Chinese his parents are Padang his father is handsome
cakep sih bapaknya sebenarnya cuman dianya aja kayaknya (106)
actually it’s just he is made
nyetaknya gelap-gelap malam (1) tapi kalo dia datang aku diemin (107)
in the dark during night time (1) but if he came I just kept silent he will
aja paling dia nanya oh kok kakak diem aja itu berlimpah-limpah (108)
ask oh why you are being quiet that there are lots
bajunya itu bajunya hendrik dikasih (109)
of his clothes his clothes Hendrik given
D: itu anaknya emang anaknya orang keongan ya? (110)
that kid is indeed son of rich person?
M: iya tapi walaupun orang keongan kan bapaknya (1) bapaknya (111)
yes but it is father who is rich person (1) his father is sick already
sampai sakit lo gara-gara dia eumm habis duit duit dia sekarang (112)
because of him eumm his money is already used up now his father
bapaknya sakit (1) yang hotel di nusa dua itu omnya adek bapaknya (113)
is sick (1) hotel in nusa dua is his uncle’s his father’s brother
D: oh dia punya hotel di nusa dua? (114)
oh he has hotel in nusa dua?
M: Iya (1) Omnya (115)
yes (1) his uncle
D: Omnya (1) Keongan berarti ya` (116)
his uncle (1) means he is rich, right?
M: Ya keongan bapaknya bukan dia (117)
well it is his father being rich not him
D: Oh gitu (118)
oh I see
In this extract, D and M had almost equal turns but D only delivered questions while M had more to say in his
turn and was uninterrupted. During M’s turn, some silences emerged but D did not try to give any comment or
additional information about the person they were talking about, resulting on M continuous turn. Prior to the
silence in turn (111), D and M showed a disagreement. In turn (110), D stated that the person that they were
talking about was a rich person. But, then, M instantly negated that by saying that it was his parents being rich,
not him. In turn (111), M held his floor for quite long time. While M kept on explaining the reasoning behind
his opinion in turn (111), D, on the other hand, decided to take silence as the response.
D who kept on being silence and let M held the floor indicates that D did not really interested in discussing
about the topic. Meanwhile, M who kept on hanging on the same topic even after the occurrences of several
silences indicates his deep interest on this particular topic. This situation shows that both D and M do not share
same knowledge about the person they are talking about, nor do they come from the same circle of friends. This
means that D sees himself as part of different group from M
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Extract 7. K was asking R about someone that R might know.
R: Universitas apa dulu? (68)
K: Lambung mangkurat (69)
R: Ga ada coba lagi mana sih? Itu doang? Yang satunya? (70)
no there is not any just try again which one? that one only? the other one?
K: Nah kalo yang itu aku ga ada fotonya bbmnya ga ada (71)
well I don’t have picture for that one I don’t have the bbm
R: Ga ada serius ga ada (4) ga ada muka secakep itu di (9) jurusan lain (72)
no seriously no one (4) there’s no one that handsome (9) other major
kali tuh (7) lagian kalo di pertamina otaknya mesti encer (73)
perhaps (7) besides his brain must be smart if it is in pertamina
K: Hum (74)
In the previous turn, K mentioned a name of a person he knew and asked R if he knew the person. It turned out
R did not know the person. In turn (72) and (73), R kept on insisting that he did not know the person. Realizing
R probably did not really know the person, K finally decided that there was no need of further discussion about
the person. As a result, K did not take his floor when a silence emerged after R’s turn in (88). However, R, who
initiated to take the floor, once again brought the same topic. Nonetheless, K gave no response again and silence
emerged again before R raised a new topic by referring to their previous topic.
K’s refusal of taking the floor in turn (73), which resulted on several silences, and R’s attempt to bring the
same topic indicate both of the speakers’ position. While R think they could talk more about the topic, K decided
that it was better to drop the topic since they failed to claim the common ground. It is most likely they did not
share the same knowledge about this particular topic. K’s silence implies his perception that he and R are part
of different circle of friends and group.
Koudenburg (2011) suggested that fluent conversations will induce higher levels of belonging when
compared to disrupted conversations. The disrupted conversations are indicated by the presence of silence. The
extracts above show how participants’ refusal to take the turn disturbs the flow of the conversations. As the
speakers think that they have failed in claiming common ground, the most likely they will take themselves out
of the conversation by being silent.
In different situation, silence indicates disagreement with another speakers’ opinion. In some situation,
silence which indicates dissociation and disagreement is triggered by the same reason: different opinion. What
leads to the different interpretation is what happens after the occurrence of silence.
In the following extract, the speaker preferred being silent than saying his own opinion.
Extract 7. Y and R were talking about their personal relationships
Y: beb mungkin mungkin casenya bakalan beda lagi kalo misalkan gue (133)
beb perhaps the case will be different if I for instance
living together kalo gue tinggal bareng [yang] yang setiap hari ngeliat (134)
living together if I live together which which every day see
R: [ngapain] (135)
Y: dia bangun tidur ngeliat dia ke toilet gitu ngeliat dia kemana gitu abis (136)
he wakes up see him to the toilet like that see him everywhere like that
itu tiba-tiba gone gitu loh ga ada apa-apa sama yang kayak berondong (137)
then suddenly gone like nothing like the younger one
kemaren hampir tiap hari sama dia kan begitu dia cus yang udin gue (138)
before almost every day with him then he’s gone well I
merana ngelonte kemana mana kerjaannya merana ngelonte (139)
was desperate being bitch everywhere what I do desperate being bitch
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kemana-mana asik kata-kata baru (3) akhirnya dari situ gue nyadar (140)
everywhere cool new words (3) I finally then realize
you grown up gitu well orang tua udah pasti tapi grown up (141)
you grown up like that well people getting old is certain but grown up
belum tentu (142)
(5) tau ga sih sekarang orientasi gue tuh lebih ke yang straight (143)
(5) do you know that my preference now is more to the straight
R: Yang straight tapi berusaha lu belokin? (144)
the straight one but you try to bend?
Two silences occurred during the talk, both about 3 seconds and 5 seconds in turn (140) and (143). During turn
(133) until (143), Y was trying to express his feeling and opinion about sad past event. On the other hand, R did
not give many responses except an interruption in turn (135). His lack of response might indicate his
disagreement towards Y’s opinion. Instead of expressing his own point of view, R decided to say nothing.
People coming from the same group would most likely try to claim common ground. They try to seek an
agreement on how they perceive the world and judge some actions. However, in the previous extract, R did not
claim any common ground towards Y opinion.
Extract 13. A and R were talking about a person who was younger than A.
R: Tuha dah lo? (221)
Already old right?
A: Di bawah aku (222)
Younger than me
R: Oh di bawah pian? (223)
Oh younger than you
A: Di bawah aku di bawah aku (224)
Younger than me younger than me
R: Dewasa lah ibaratnya harusnya nikah lah udah (225)
Like Mature supposed to be married already
A: Kalo kalo mengharuskan enat nikah berarti kam mengharuskan aku (226)
If if (you’re) telling enat to get married means you are telling me to get
nikah jua keitu tapi kada ah nikah kedada anu nah (4) (227)
married also but not getting married I don’t have that (4)
R: Jaka ada nadia kita lah (228)
If only we are here with nadia
In this extract, A and R were talking about a person who R thought was older than A. However, it turned out
that the person R referred was younger than A. R, then, argued that the person was considered old enough as he
was in the age of getting married. In the following turn, (226) – (227), A expressed his disagreement by pointing
out the fact that he was older than the person they were talking about and he was not married yet. Four-minute
silence finally emerged after turn (227) as the result of this disagreement. A new topic arose afterward. The
initiation of new topic after the silence implies that the participants unanimously agree that they are having
different views so there is no need in negotiating them.
The findings above confirm Pomerantz in Maynard (1980) who argued that silence may occur due to
disagreement. When the next speaker decides to give up the floor after disagreement arises, it implies that the
next speaker does not want to resolve the conflict nor to discuss further about the conflicted issue. Thus, as
mentioned by Sacks, the previous speaker may take the floor. A new topic will usually be initiated if the previous
speaker agrees that they should not discuss the conflict further and let the different perspective stays as it is.
Sacks (1995) stated that the maximum standard of silence is about 1 second. The participants of the
conversations usually try to terminate the silence after the 1st second. Thus, what speakers do when silence
emerges indicates the position of the speakers themselves. When one participant decides to refuse taking the
floor and then the current speaker hangs on the same topic, this means that the participants are not in
A. Lestary et al. | Parole: Journal of Linguistics and Education, 7 (2), 2017 | 63
synchronized situation. In this kind of situation, one participant will feel that the participants fail to claim
common ground and they do not have shared knowledge.
Furthermore, the findings also show that silence indicates disagreement among the speakers. In this situation,
silence usually emerges after the participants utter their judgment about a certain topic and find out that they
have different opinions. One of the speakers usually will raise different topic and the others will follow. This
means that all of the participants agree that they do not share similar point of views and there is no need to
negotiate them further.
These findings are in accordance to Robert, Francis, & Morgan (2006) who suggested that silence might
indicate trouble in the conversations. The findings of the study confirm that the frequent occurrence of silence
is the indicator of disrupted flow of the conversations. According to Koudenburg (2011), the participants in
disrupted conversation will most likely feel rejected and experience negative emotions.
To conclude the findings, it can be said that the presence of silence in a conversation triggers negative
feelings for the participants and reflects a troubled conversation. Thus, the low frequency of silence in any
conversation indicates the participants’ active engagement in the talks and their success in developing group
A collaborative talk is marked by the engagement of the speakers. In such talk, high frequency of interruptions
may occur. Collaborative talk is also indicated by the rapid turns exchange to maintain the same topics for long
discussion. On the contrary, a disruptive talk is characterized by high frequency of silence and rapid change of
topics. Collaborative talks will induce stronger sense of belonging and bring positive situation to develop and
maintain the membership of the participants. Meanwhile, the conversations with disruptive flow will induce
more negative feeling among the participants, weakening the sense of belonging of the speakers.
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