“Oh” + apology + solution: a practice for managing the concomitant presence of a possible offense and a problem-to-be-solved

In this paper we examine a turn construction (Oh + Apology + Solution), which speakers employ to deal with the concomitant presence of a possible offense and a problem-to-be-solved in the immediately preceding interactional environment. We show that speakers collaborate in differentiating the offense-aspect and the problem-aspect of an emerging circumstance by treating the apology-component as preliminary to and in the service of the primary function of the turn: treating the circumstance as a problem-to-be-solved and providing a solution for it. The “Oh” prefacing, which treats the circumstance as something of which the speaker had not been previously aware, and the turn-medial positioning of the apology contribute to treating the matter at hand as a minor shortcoming or imposition rather than a major wrongdoing.