Actions and Identities in Emergency Calls: The Case of Thanking

Tom Koole*, Lotte van Burgsteden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter analyses emergency calls to see how the incident report of callers is ascribed either the action of making a request to the emergency call centre or the action of providing a service to the call centre. In accordance with Whalen & Zimmerman (1987) and Bergmann (1993), we see that when the caller thanks the call-taker in response to the dispatching of assistance, the caller’s incident report is treated as a request, while the call-taker by thanking the caller ascribes to the caller the action of having provided a service. Adding to their analyses, this chapter shows that action-ascription is subject to local interactional contingencies much more than to interaction-external identities such as the caller’s relation to the incident. We show examples where callers who are directly involved in the incident are treated as providing a service and we show examples of witness-callers who are treated as making a request. For action-ascription, this means that the turn to which an action is ascribed and the turn that ascribes the action need not be adjacent. Further, this chapter shows that in these not-adjacent contexts, the interaction in between may strongly impact upon the eventual action-ascription.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAction Ascription in Interaction
EditorsArnulf Deppermann, Michael Haugh
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781108673419
ISBN (Print)9781108474627
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameStudies in Interactional Sociolinguistics


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