Rephrasing /repair


By Jonathan Maxey, Coventry University

Repairs, when initiated or performed by a conversational other, are often a reliable indicator of power within spoken discourse. However, additional social areas may also be underscored by this phenomenon. For example, the establishing or highlighting of a rapport.

The previous weeks Andrew Marr show heralded the welcome return of political journalist Isabel Hardman who had recently returned to her career following a battle with depression.

The repair is initiated in line 02 after Marr passes the floor to Isabel with a tag question. This is followed by Isabel repairing the topic title. The repair is agreed upon by Marr in the adjacency pair that follows in line 03.

01 AM: Isabel, I’m going to give you a choice. 
       Would you like to do the Uber story or the mental health story?
02 IH: I’d love to do the Prince Harry [0.3] story.
03 AM: Prince Harry story. Let’s go to that then.

External link to clip

The topic is clearly a sensitive and intimate one for Isabel. The title repair allows her to remove the main emphasis from herself and onto the wider media matter at hand whilst still enabling her to provide a personal perspective. The term mental health is also one which is often unfortunately stigmatised in society. Potentially, this shift – reframing it as the “Prince Harry” story – is a conscious one to highlight how important the topic is on a national scale. Marr’s accepting of this correction demonstrates his support for his college and an acceptance of his guest’s voice on this topic in providing her complete power over the framing of the discourse.

( a link to Isabel’s story in The Telegraph

Andrew Marr Show, BBC, 24th September 2017

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