An adjacent pair is formed by two consecutive conversational shifts that are characterized in that the presence of the first part (the first turn) causes a second determined part to be expected next: for example, a turn of the type [Hello, how about ?] follow one like [Well, how about you?] . The adjacent pair, then, is the minimum conversation partner.
Conversation analysis has established a typology of adjacent pairs based on the speech act that is carried out with them. Some of the most frequent types are the following:
- greeting-greeting: as in the example of the definition;
- question-answer: A: [Have you seen Juan?]; B: [No, I haven’t seen it.]
- offer-acceptance / rejection: A: [Do you want a coffee?]; B: [Yes, thanks]
- thanks-minimization: A: [I appreciate the help] ; B: [You’re welcome]
- request-acceptance / rejection: A: [Do you have a moment?] ; B: [Tell me]
- call-answer: A: [Maria!]; B: [What?]
- apology-acceptance / rejection: A: [Sorry] ; B: [Nothing happens]
- assertion-agreement / disagreement: A: [I am sure you already know] ; B: [Of course]
- compliment-acceptance / rejection: A: [What a beautiful blouse you wear today!] ; B: [Well, I just didn’t like it]
Many of the second parts of the adjacent pairs are not socially considered in the same way in all cultures; for example, it is usually impolite in Spanish to refuse an invitation without giving a minimum justification; on the other hand, it is not to show disagreement with a compliment or downplay it.
Some authors propose to simplify all adjacent pairs in two major types of exchanges:
- request-donation: would include request-acceptance / rejection, offer-acceptance / rejection and question-answer.
- donation-thanks: would include compliment-acceptance / rejection and assertion-agreement / disagreement.
Other authors speak of action-reaction pairs, because the first part of the adjacent pair, as an illocutive act, establishes an expectation that the listener has to complete in the second part, with the most appropriate conventional response to the previous statement (acceptance or rejection before a request, greeting before a greeting, etc.).
The adjacent pairs have served to establish some linguistic routines in the teaching of foreign languages. Knowing the expected linguistic reaction to a previous statement and its communicative effects contributes to the mastery of the use of language in daily oral interactions very ritualized and culturally marked.
Examples of pairs
Many actions in conversation are accomplished through established adjacency pairs, examples of which include:
- call/beckon → response
- “Waiter!” → “Yes, sir“
- complaint → excuse/remedy
- “It’s awfully cold in here” → “Oh, sorry, I’ll close the window“
- compliment → acceptance/refusal
- “I really like your new haircut!!” → “Oh, thanks“
- degreeting → degreeting
- “See you!” → “Yeah, see you later!“
- inform → acknowledge
- “Your phone is over there” → “I know“
- greeting → greeting
- “Hiya!” → “Oh, hi!“
- offer → acceptance/rejection
- “Would you like to visit the museum with me this evening?” → “I’d love to!“
- question → answer
- “What does this big red button do?” → “It causes two-thirds of the universe to implode“
- request → acceptance/rejection
- “Is it OK if I borrow this book?” → “I’d rather you didn’t, it’s due back at the library tomorrow“