• Language Expertise as a Source of Dispute in Bilingual Couple Talk

      Carroll, Donald; Houck, Nöel, 1942-; Hosoda, Yuri; Childs, Marshall; Beglar, David J. (Temple University. Libraries, 2010)
      This study explores dispute sequences in talk between bilingual couples communicating in Japanese. Specifically I examine naturally occurring face-to-face talk between Japanese wives and their American husbands who communicate primarily in Japanese at home. Conversation analysis (CA) is employed to document occasions where the talk between these couples evolves into problematic talk such as disputes. The analytical focus is on sequences where problematic talk is related to the participants' orientation to such contrasting identities as native/non-native speaker and expert/novice categories. A total of 16 hours of conversations were audio-recorded in the couples' homes while they were engaged in everyday activities such as eating meals. The analysis of the data revealed several separate but related issues. First, the couples made their language expert and novice identities relevant in their talk when they conducted metalingual talk, i.e., talk about the Japanese language. Specifically, these identities emerged through repair sequences on occasions when one person had difficulty understanding or producing a lexical item and his or her spouse provided assistance with the problematic item. Second, problematic episodes, such as dispute sequences, were often occasioned by metalingual talk. Third, Japanese native and non-native speaker identities were sometimes separated from differential language expertise. When this happens, the native speaker disputes it and problematic talk occurs. The findings indicated that language expertise should be thought of as something that is independent to being a "native speaker" of a language. Being a language expert is locally situated in and negotiated through the ongoing talk and non-native speakers can be language experts as well. However, the data in this study show that the native speakers of Japanese, Japanese wives, sometimes perceived their non-native American husbands as disputing their expertise when they were engaged in metalingual talk. The American husbands occasionally displayed their expertise and argued against their Japanese wives on linguistic issues or did not acknowledge the expert information provided by the wives. When that happened, their talk became problematic, as the native speaker wives claimed that they were the experts and not the non-native husbands. In sum, this study revealed that dispute in intercultural marriage is in some cases due to language expertise displayed in the interactions. Dispute emerges through the on-going talk and is not determined based on the second language speaker's disfluency or differences between the speakers' cultural backgrounds, a claim that is frequently made in other fields such as intercultural communication, second language studies, and sociolinguistics. This newly identified phenomena based on language expertise is at the root of dispute in bilingual couple talk.