Preferred and dispreferred seconds

Adjacency pairs
Example 1:
invitation A: Why don't you come up and see me some time
acceptance B: I would like to
Example 2:
invitation A: uh if you'd care to come and visit a little while this morning
I'll give you a cup of coffee
refusal B: hehh well that's awfully sweet of you I don't think I can make
it this morning hh uhm I'm running an ad in the paper and uh
I have to stay near the phone
As the two examples above illustrate, the production of a dispreferred second generally requires more conversational effort than a preferred second. In example 2, one can distinguish the following components in B's turn: delaying a response + marker + expressing appreciation of the offer + declination itself + giving a reason for why one has to decline.
based on Atkinson & Drew (1979:58 P. Atkinson and J. Drew, 1979, Order in court. ).


Preferred and dispreferred seconds
first preferred second dispreferred second
acceptance refusal
request compliance refusal
assessment agreement disagreement
blame denial admission
question expected answer unexpected answer
no answer
based on S. Levinson (1983: 336 S. Levinson, 1983, Pragmatics ).
There are situations in which a 'disagreement' counts as a preferred second following an assessement:
assessment I haven't done well, haven't I?
disagreement Nonsense. Of course, you did well!


(Dis)preferred seconds in a tryadic exchange
The exchange below reveals some of the complexities that arise from an analysis of multi-party interactions characterised by a conflict of interests. It involves two boys (V and Q) and their mum (M). V is 6 and keen on teasing his little brother, Q, who is 3 years old.
V1: Q, do you want some more marbles?
Q1: Yes.
V2: You can't have any.
Q2: Mummy, V won't let me have his marbles.
M1: Why are you teasing your brother?
Give him some of your marbles.
V3: But he's already got so many.
Schematic analysis of pairs:
V1 first offer
Q1 preferred second accept
V2 first cancel offer
Q2 first complain (= dispreferred second to V1 by implication)
M1a first request for information (= preferred second to Q2 by implication as it acknowledges the complaint)
M1b first order
V3 dispreferred second refuse (= a preferred second to M1 by complying with the request for information)
Q2 is particularly interesting. It counts as a first - initiating a sequence of complaint. At the same time, it counts as silence vis-à-vis turn V2. Is this to be taken as a dispreferred second? However, what would be a preferred second to a withdrawal of an offer as a first? A self-defeating acceptance? This detail underlines the extent to which the concept of (dis)preferred seconds is based on a tacit notion of face wants (respecting the face wants of the other - e.g. 'offer/acceptance' versus 'offer/refusal' - or protecting one's own face - e.g. 'blame/denial' versus 'blame/admission'). The latter case provides an interesting point of comparison for the sequence V2/Q2 above, because it also focuses on a conflict of interests. That 'denial' is the preferred response to a 'blame' reflects the tendency to read 'silence' as a dispreferred second, i.e. as an 'admission' of guilt. Note, however, that there are certainly situations in which a silent response to an accusation rules the accuser out of order (e.g. a situation in which all parties present know that the accusation does not hold up).
M1a, on the other hand, reveals the need to turn to implied meanings. Although on the surface, this turn initiates a pair by requesting information, the turn can be clearly recognised as an implicit acknowledgement, i.e. as a preferred second to Q2.
Note, finally, that M's double initation is met with a "double" response from V. V3 amounts to a refusal to comply with the request for action (a dispreferred response to M1b); it does so by complying with the request for information (the preferred response to M1a).