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The occurrence of ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘what house’ and other repair initiations in the home environment of hearing-impaired individuals


Address correspondence to: Kati Pajo, The Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Siltavuorenpenger 3 A, PL 9, 00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; e-mail:



Even though research has increasingly focused on the qualitative features of natural conversations, which have improved the communication therapy for hearing-impaired individuals (HI) and familiar partners (FP), very little is known about the interactions that occur outside clinical settings.


This study investigated qualitatively how both HI and FP initiated repair due to misperceptions or to a difficulty in understanding during conversations conducted at home. The HI participant's multimodal production style was adopted in the present analysis, and the frequencies were calculated for the different types of verbal repair initiations.

Methods & Procedures

Participants with acquired hearing loss (43–69 years) and their familiar partners (24–67 years) were video recorded (total time approximately 9 h) in their homes. The data consisted of eight conversational dyads. The transcription and analysis utilized Conversation Analysis.

Outcomes & Results

A total of 209 (HI 164/FP 45) verbal repair initiations were identified. The five major types of initiations found in the data (used by both HI and FP) were: open repair initiation, targeting question word, question word with repetition, repetition, and candidate understanding. HI participants rarely explicitly verbalized their difficulty to hear, but the production style, which included a fast speech rate and ‘trouble posture’, indicated a sensitive routine that was visible particularly in clear misperceptions. Furthermore, the alerting action of overlapping turn taking with the FP participant's turn could be seen to reveal the depth of misperception. The individual differences between HI participants were found predominantly in the frequency of their repair initiations, but also in how they used the different types of repair initiation.

Conclusions & Implications

Through a deeper qualitative analysis, conversational research can provide extended knowledge of the occurrence and style of ordinary repair initiations and highlight their relationship in certain conversational environments. A robust starting point in communication therapy is increasing the awareness of HI individuals’ existing skills.