Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Barbara Fox

Second Advisor

Cecilia Ford

Third Advisor

Kira Hall

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Cowell

Fifth Advisor

Karen Tracy


This dissertation uses conversation analysis to examine three non-disagreeing functions of the token `no' when it prefaces a turn at talk. In the first function, `no'-prefaces index and respond to an inferential component of a prior turn. This practice entails a number of sub-practices, in which speakers use `no'-prefaced responses to deny face-threatening actions produced through "off-record" formulations, display affiliation with a recipient by managing incongruent stance displays, manage inferences regarding the speaker's epistemic stance or rights, deny an inference conveyed through a prior polar question, or produce a preferred response to delicate formulations that index a recipient's accountability, blame, or guilt. In the second function, `no'-prefaces mark a shift in how the turn is organized with regard to the speaker's footing. In this practice, speakers employ `no'-prefaced turns to shift between non-serious and serious interactional frames, or retroactively assert the serious footing of a prior utterance. In the third function, `no'-prefaces mark a shift in how the turn is organized with regard to the surrounding talk. In this practice, `no'-prefaced turns may be used to mark a unit of talk as hearably "misplaced", connect back to a prior segment of talk, or close an extended telling sequence. As a study situated within the framework of interactional linguistics, this dissertation examines these functions of `no'-prefaces in the context of naturally-occurring English conversation.

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