By the first participant in the immediately preceding talking turn: responses to a greeting opener, replies to questions that require a determinate answer (e.g. Yes-No; supplying a name, place, or time, requests for repetition; and so on); ceremonial moves (e.g. shows of appreciation and apology immediately following their occasioned requirement); and so on. A next order of priority is assigned to the expression of those transactional requirements that maintain or complete what has already been previously begun and is plainly still going on. A commonly reoccurring instance is to be found in leave-taking exchanges that compose the closing section of a conversation. For instance:
We may call this, for the moment, the leave-taking register modality. Another variety of register modality involves playtalk. (see the earlier discussion on talking turns (3) to (12) in the illustration given in Section II.) Other instances of second level priority can be found in exchanges that involve immediate accounting requirements. If, for instance, a situation is recalled in which a participant's face has been put in direct and immediate jeopardy, the moves that follow will continue to have this as their central transactional concern, until the problem is adequately exhausted through an appropriate exchange of remedies. Consider the following exchange:
This exchange of fifteen alternating turns has as its main transactional theme the two participants' coordinated effort to provide adequate remedy to M's face that was put into jeopardy as a result of R's move in (2) of not being able to sufficiently legitimize M's offer for help in (1). After R's move in (2), M takes up the alignment whereby she claims that she has been insufficiently legitimized. The basis of this claim is given by the transactional code: a participant who offers a suggestion for help puts himself in jeopardy in a number of ways for, depending on what happens next, he may be seen having been sleighted, in case his suggestion is neglected as not worth paying attention to, because it is stupid, or inappropriate, possibly indicating that he doesn't know what he is talking about. He therefore must engage in all sorts of supportive attempts to buttress the validity of his proposal, until it can be seen by all that it has been accepted that the proposal had merit. The register modality mechanism will then insure that the displays occurring in the ensuing exchange will further this particular main transactional theme, until it is satisfactorily resolved.
A third-order priority for selecting transactional requirements is assigned, by the machinery of register modality, to standing relationships claims. Many types of bracketed sections of conversation can be seen to have this transactional requirement as its main theme: (a) "grooming talk" which has to do with ceremonial exchanges whereby participants are seen to reiterate in many different sorts of ways the bond that unites them, the support they owe each other, and the obligations they are ready to fulfill vis-a-vis each other; (b) "gossip talk" which has to do with informational debts acquainted persons owe each other: newsworthy items, personal plans, current preoccupations and feelings, beliefs and opinions on topical issues, and so on; (c) "playtalk" which has to do with claims to joviality, conviviality, and verbal facility, these being seen as valued personal characteristics; and so on.
There are undoubtedly fourth and lower orders of priority, but we shall not consider them here. In any event, it should be understood that here, as elsewhere in this chapter and throughout the book, we see our present task as proposing a paradigm for the empirical study of conversation, and to elaborate upon it sufficient]y to establish its seriousness. The task of fully elaborating the theoretical implications it generates is one that must be shared with others. In the present case, our proposal involved in the notion of register modality assigns it a central role in the study of talk, and it is this theoretical importance that we wish to sufficiently establish, though we're doing it sketchily. It might be fruitful to review the argument thus far.
We are essentially considering the dynamics of talk. In most general terms, this concern has to do with the fundamental question of why people talk. It seems that a significant component of this theoretically legitimate concern is a more specific concern, namely, why do participants in a conversation say the things they can be heard saying or display the gestures they can be seen performing. We have proposed a three-part solution to this problem the first part is to be an account of the transactional structure of interpersonal exchanges. The basic framework we have adopted here has been developed by Goffman in his work on the ritual idiom. Our specific application of this framework has been by way of specifying the contents of the transactional code, which we have treated as a set of normative value oriented prescriptions governing the talking contract. The second part is to be an account of the organizational sequential structure of conversational displays. The basic framework we have adopted here has been developed by Garfinkel, Sacks; Shegloff, and their associates in their ethnomethodological studies of recorded conversations. Our specific application of this framework has been by way of specifying the structural components of conversational events (talking turns, bracketed sections, transactional moves, adjacency pairs, completions, opening sections, middle sections, closing sections). The third part is to be an account of how these two independently structured systems interrelate dynamically. Here, we have proposed to revive an old work horse concept in discourse analysis, register, though what we have proposed in the notion of register modality takes a different tack from the hitherto and goes much further in explicating its dynamic functions. Now to recapitulate what we said about this notion.
Register modality includes, as one of its main structural functions, a selectional mechanism that assigns all order oŁ priority to the transactional requirements of a situation, and thereby, determines which of them is up next for display in the sequential stream of moves within talking turns. Once the immediate next transactional theme has been selected, a second component of the register modality mechanism selects from alternative possible transactional solutions a particular preferred remedy or course of action. Different varieties of register modalities can be distinguished on the basis of their value orientation vis-a-vis preferred solutions (e.g. playtalk, grooming talk, gossip talk, etc.).
We are thus talking about two separate selectional choices: the first selects the immediately next appropriate transactional theme; the second, selects a preferred mode of solution to the identified transactional problem. The first choice is a decision about priorities, the second is a model choice, a decision about how. A partial elaboration of the bases for making the choice about priorities was proposed in terms of short-term and long-term transactional concerns: adjacency-pairs, ceremonial moves, completion of an on-going transaction, and standing relationship claims, these being specifically proposed as standing on a priority scale from short-term immediate concerns to long-term standing concerns. The basis for making a choice about modal alternatives to the solution of the selected transactional theme has not yet been elaborated. We consequently proceed to a discussion of this problem.
We begin by examining the basis that might exist for assigning preference values to modal alternatives in the attempted solution of a transactional problem. Goffman's work on game expressions and impression management looks to us as possibly providing an entry to this problem. We have previously discussed the notion that conversational identity is made up of a cumulative set of accounted claims about his face that a person has succeeded in putting on public record, and we have pointed out in this connection that the particular set of claims comprising conversational id entity is seen as an individual and unique accomplishment for which the person is responsible and to which he may be held accountable through rewards and sanctions administered by other persons in the speech community. Included in such a set are general claims about his status as a member in good standing of a particular speech community and sub-group thereof. (E.g. I am an American. I come from Boston. I went to Harvard. I was a valedictorian. Archbishop Cushing, officiated at my marriage ceremony. My father is President of Ford. And so on.) Also included in this set are more specific claims attendant to a person's unique style of operation the guardians of whom are the persons that from his circle of acquaintances.
A person can thus be seen as an individual possessing a harem of face claims, that are uniquely identified and which are in need of constant protection and care in the face of challenges by others who may be seen to compete for the same possessive honors. The process whereby a person goes about his business protecting his unique package of face claims in the face of continuous challenge is what we refer to as game expressions, image management, or face work. The specific requirements of this game uniquely determine for each individual person the preferred moda1 remedy to a particular transactional problem.
Let us consider an illustration. Teaching small classes of graduate students has the consequence (favourable or unfavourable, depending on your value orientation) of embroiling the participants in face work requirements that are much more compelling than is the case with larger, lecture classes where students retain a considerable degree of conversational anonymity. I (LAJ) have noted over the years that graduate students in psychology tend to take up very early in the course of the semester an alignment vis-a-vis a particular theoretical orientation: tough-minded experimentalism, soft-minded humanism, behaviorism, phenomenology, antireductionism, and the like, depending on the controversies of the day in the literature they have been exposed to or the personal orientation of their mentors. Once an alignment is taken up by an individual, he will be seen by others as a spokesman for that orientation, and will be expected to advance certain kinds of arguments whenever a salient topic is being discussed, and in conformity with this expectation, the individual will be observed to engage in a mode of conversational behavior that shows that he is properly conscious of his role, as well as alive to the fact that others are constantly evaluating his performance in that role. Of interest here is, first, the manner in which he succeeds in taking up the original alignment, and second, the manner in which he subsequently succeeds in maintaining it. Briefly and sketchily: (a) making statements of declaration that are globally damaging to one or more particular orientations and globally supportive of the one which is championed by him; (b) personally affiliating himself to the preferred orientation and its proponents while making personally disparaging comments about the proponents of competing orientations; (c) consistently challenging statements of others that are incongruous with his preferred orientation; (d) forcing the statements of others into his preferred framework forcefully denying the charges of others that they are thereby redefining concepts inappropriately; (e) attempting to polarize issues and forcing others to take up an alignment one way or the other; and so on.
Now it can be appreciated that the satisfactory execution of these strategic moves puts a pressure on the participant to be constantly alive to his publicly sanctioned role. If we examine his transactional moves in detail, much of it will become understandable by reference to such a background motivation. In that sense we can say that his mode of conversational display is dictated by priority and modal decisions; the register modality will be in the service of this main transactional theme.
But this is not all, obviously. In addition to his role as spokesman and watchdog for a particular orientation, he also has a whole set of further face claims to protect in the eyes of this new circle that the class creates over tile academic semester. He is concerned about performing displays that evidence his intelligence, his skill in public debating, his knowledge of the literature, his readiness to reward friends and punish enemies, his influence, swaying power, popularity, joviality, conviviality, awareness of power structures and sub-grouping alignments, and so on to a very large list of things limited only by the person's social interest, competence, and ambition.
A participants conversational demeanour, as it is publicly displayed, is conditioned by the continuously evolving pattern of register modalities that govern his momentary choices made in the service of the accumulating set of face claims he has put on public record about himself: (a) his mode of treating justification requirements; how much and where he justifies statements, or demands justification from others for theirs; the terms of the justification procedure, whether logical, transactional, ethical, political, legal, or whatever; (b) his mode of treating playtalk, how much he initiates or responds to joking, the nature of his dramatizations in storytelling and accounts; (c) his mode of presenting arguments, whether he speaks personally or impersonally, what he appeals to for support, whether he appears organized or flustered, accomodating, flexible, or pig headed. And so on.
Some patterns of register modalities have a personal motivation, are seen as stylistic preferences, and tend to remain stable over a variety of conversational settings. Others relate to sub-group affiliation and will he operative under a more restricted category of situations, as is the case for, say, insistence upon logical justification in academically oriented discussions. And still others relate to specific setting, conditions, as is the case in register modalities employed by service people in interaction with customers, by lecturers, at committee meetings, courts of law, the stage, song lyrics, written documents, and so on. In connection with this last list tied to specific setting conditions, it is worth pointing out again that it is their peculiar transactional requirements that is relevant to register modality and not the physical aspects of the setting per se. Reference to setting is but a convenient entry point for the task of giving a specific account of whatever transactional requirements may ordinarily be found there. For instance, the sub-variety of register modalities to be found in the classrooms of our public educational system (the "instructional register"), do not have the peculiar properties they display because the interaction takes place in a classroom, or because there is only one teacher and there are many students, or the fact that books and exercises are used. None of these setting features are in and of themselves crucial. Rather, the instructional register is to be distinguished from other sub-varieties in terms of the special transactional requirements it entails that are specifically unique to it, whatever the setting conditions: the teacher's motivation to test students' knowledge leads them to ask many questions that would be seen as odd in an ordinary conversation having no such transactional requirements; the students' protective attempts to cover up ignorance, which is a motivation that is absent, or less important, when the interactional stakes are altered; the restrictions imposed on topic switching; and so on. This same pattern of register modalities can be