Loughborough University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Reason: This item is currently closed access.

Crying receipts: time, empathy, and institutional practice

journal contribution
posted on 2012-02-21, 14:27 authored by Alexa Hepburn, Jonathan Potter
In this article, we focus on the activities done by the recipients of crying. In the analysis, we work with a corpus of calls from a child protection helpline in which the caller shows features of crying (14 calls, or about 10% of the total). Our focus is on two kinds of crying receipts made by child protection officers (CPOs) that are rare in noncrying calls but recurrent in crying calls: take-your-times (TYTs) and empathic receipts (ERs). TYTs are used in environments in which the caller displays an attempt to but failure to articulate talk. This can be shown by inappropriate silence, wet sniffs, sobs, and turn constructional units that are either incomplete or disrupted by sobs, sniffs, or whispering. TYTs offer a license for the late delivery of talk and are affiliative. ERs can replace TYTs but are more common in environments in which callers are unresponsive to CPO actions such as advice giving. ERs have two elements—a formulation of the crying party's mental state and some sort of marker of the contingency of the mental state formulations. The mental state element is built from local features of the caller's talk (displays and metaformulations of upset), and issues of accuracy are managed through the epistemic contingency maker (most of ten treating the formulation as based on hearing). We discuss broader implications of this work for conceptions of empathy.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


HEPBURN, A. and POTTER, J., 2007. Crying receipts: time, empathy, and institutional practice. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 40 (1), pp. 89 - 116


© Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Publication date



This article is closed access, it was published in the journal Research on Language and Social Interaction [© Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.]. The definitive version is available at; http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08351810701331299




  • en