Scaling as an argumentative resource in television talk shows

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This study examines scaling as a resource in Korean television talk shows, and specifically the moment-by-moment sequential implications that scaling has for challenging and defending one's argument. The data are from a weekly Korean talk show, “Non-Summit,” wherein a panel of non-Korean men debate controversial topics and Korean culture. Focusing on argumentative sequences, the analysis shows how participants upgrade and downgrade the previous speaker's formulations to register a qualification, proffer a counter-challenge, and construct one's own unchallengeable argument. These scaling practices consist of participants producing numerical scales and hyperbolic formulations, as well as arranging seemingly unrelated items into a scalar relationship that is only deducible by its sequential context. It is through such interactionally constructed scales that participants concurrently manage disaffiliation with the prior turn and maximize preference for an affiliative response. By challenging an interlocutor and making that person the target of collective tease, the participants not only perform argumentative operations on the talk but also secure opportunities for viewer entertainment. This analysis further nuances the situated, indexical, and co-constructed properties of scaling – as an observably relevant resource that shapes the sequential unfolding of televisual interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Argumentative discourse
  • Entertainment
  • Humor
  • Korean
  • Regrading
  • Scaling
  • Talk show
  • Television


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