The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.613-641
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Mar 2020
Received 04 Oct 2020 Revised 19 Oct 2020 Accepted 25 Oct 2020

Why Do We Overlap Each Other?: Collaborative Overlapping Talk in English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) Communication

Kanghee Lee
University of Seoul

Copyright 2020 KASELL
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Overlap is often considered as a breakdown of the one-at-a-time principle in conversational turn-taking and something to be resolved. However, in English as a lingua franca (ELF) interaction, the speakers are found to endeavour to achieve cooperative and supportive turn-taking and turn-management through a dynamic use of overlapping talk. This study aims to explore how the international students in the U.K university employ the interactional dynamics of overlap as a resource for co-constructing meanings and joint accomplishment of turn-taking by analysing naturally occurring ELF interactions with Conversation Analysis (CA). The findings reveal that the participants produced a high frequency of overlapping talk in interaction, and particularly overlaps occurred when the speakers made a backchannel, echoing response, and utterance completion. A delayed response or turn transition may cause a violation of turn-taking in conversation, and consequently the speakers attempt to provide frequent and timely responses, which may lead to the high frequency of overlaps and simultaneous talk. As a turn-switch between speakers is not completely smooth, and overlapping talk is an inevitable outcome of dynamic and collaborative turn-taking practices, classroom teaching needs to encourage English language learners to use more adaptive pragmatic strategies such as repair, accommodation, or clarification request when overlaps cause communicative problems.


English as a lingua franca, turn-taking, overlaps, involvement, cooperation


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Lee, Kanghee, Visiting ProfessorDivision of General English, University of Seoul163 Seoulsiripdaero, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, KoreaTel: 82-2-6490-5224E-mail: