The Structure of Meaning in Talk:

Explorations in Category Analysis.

Volume I: Co-categorization, Contrast, and Hierarchy

Jack Bilmes

Professor Emeritus
University of Hawaii


This monograph represents most of the work that I have so far done in occasioned semantics, which is an attempt to analyze meaning structures in recorded, transcribed talk in a systematic way. As presently conceived, occasioned semantics deals with co- categorization and contrast, hierarchy (inclusiveness and subsumption), and scaling in actual talk. My work on categorical hierarchy, co-categorization, and contrast, as represented in taxonomic form, is rather more advanced than my work on scaling, so this volume is devoted to taxonomic relations. (I am planning eventually to produce a second volume, devoted to scaling.) Following Harvey Sacks approach to category analysis, I attend to how categories are invoked, constructed, and used on particular occasions, with constant attention to the here-and-now, sequential and indexical properties of the talk. So, the taxonomies (and, eventually, scales) that I deal with are occasioned taxonomies (and occasioned scales).



1. Formulation and occasioned semantics

2. Taxonomic structure—Inclusion, co-categorization, and contrast

3. Extended MCA (Membership Categorization Analysis)

4. Beyond MCA

5. Application of taxonomic technique to an example from Sacks

6. Contrast and hierarchy

7. Formulation structure in ethnographic context

8. Closing thoughts

Appendix 1: Negotiating the meaning of a gesture

Appendix 2: "The baby cried" reconsidered

Appendix 3: Invoking context: Schegloff's criteria and their implications for ethnography

Appendix 4: Federal Trade Commission footnote discussion