The accomplishment of nonserious talk in severe speech disability

An examination of recipient uptake and delayed other-initiated repair


  • Steven Bloch University College London
  • Ray Wilkinson University of Sheffield



amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als), conversation, dysarthria, motor neurone disease (mnd), laughter


This paper investigates the production of, and responses to, nonserious talk by a person with a severe speech disorder in everyday conversation. Using the methods of Conversation Analysis (CA) a distinction between appreciability on the one hand and intelligibility and understandability on the other is examined through sequences featuring recipient laughter followed by delayed other-initiation of repair. Additional features of understandability are explored whereby a humour source turn is shown to be both appreciated and intelligible but not fully understood. The analysis reveals ways in which affiliation through humour is accomplished and maintained within an environment of significant intelligibility problems. The evidence presented in this paper indicates that nonserious talk is achievable through interaction despite the challenges of a severe speech disability.

Author Biographies

Steven Bloch, University College London

Steven Bloch is a National Institute for Health Research Fellow in the Research Department of Language and Communication at University College London. His research focuses on the use of conversation analysis to examine progressive neurological communication disorders in everyday interaction. Recent and forthcoming publications include papers in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Disability and Rehabilitation and the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.

Ray Wilkinson, University of Sheffield

Ray Wilkinson is Professor of Human Communication in the Department of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield. His research interests centre on the use of conversation analysis to examine social interaction, in particular interactions involving people with communication disorders. Recent publications include papers in Research in Language and Social Interaction, Aphasiology, Discourse Processes, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, and Journal of Pragmatics.


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How to Cite

Bloch, S., & Wilkinson, R. (2013). The accomplishment of nonserious talk in severe speech disability: An examination of recipient uptake and delayed other-initiated repair. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 4(1), 45–70.