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Taking Turns in Conversation [Podcast]

Levinson, S. C. (2016). Taking Turns in Conversation [Podcast]. In Word of Mouth: Series exploring the world of words and the ways in which we use them (BBC Radio 4). Retrieved from
Michael Rosen and linguist Dr Laura Wright discuss how well we judge taking it in turns when we're in conversation. Professor Stephen Levinson has new research on the science behind this, and joins them in the studio for a carefully-calibrated discussion.. He believes that the back-and-forth pattern we instinctively fall into may have evolved before language itself. Levinson's research has found that it takes about 200 milliseconds for us to reply to each other, but it takes about 600 milliseconds to prepare what we're going to say - so we're preparing as we listen. Levinson notes that this is a pattern found across all human languages, and some animal species, and that infants begin taking turns in interactions at about six months of age, before they can even speak. But what's going on when someone seems to get it wrong, to interrupt or talk over the other person?
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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