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Support Talk

Christopher Pudlinski

Subject Communication Studies » Language and Social Interaction

Key-Topics speech

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Problems and troubles are a common aspect of human life; descriptions of these problems and troubles usually make relevant some kind of affiliative or supportive response. The study of support talk examines how interactants seek and obtain aid in a variety of informal and institutional settings. Support talk occurs when interactants attempt to aid, assist, or help another by addressing troubles that can be mutually shared and mutually solved. Support provided can be informational (e.g., advice), emotional (expressions of caring, concern, empathy, and sympathy), or tangible (offers of goods or services). One challenge in distinguishing support talk from other forms of talk in interaction is that routine talk, especially in close relationships, can also serve a supportive function (→  Intimate Talk with Family and Friends ). Advice-giving involves recommending, suggesting, or describing a course of action for remedying another's troubles. In situations where the advice-giver is clearly the authority, advice tends to be strongly prescriptive, including overt recommendations, imperatives (“always be very very quiet at night”), and modal verbs of obligation (“should,” “ought”: →  Directives ). Giving advice in these ways implies an asymmetry of roles: the advice-giver plays the role of knowledgeable advisor, while the advice recipient's role is one of lacking competence and needing help. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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