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Laing, R.D. (1961). The First Five Minutes: By Robert E. Pittenger, Charles F. Hockett, and John J. Danehy. (New York: Martineau, 1960. Pp. 264. $6.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 42:477-478.

(1961). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 42:477-478

The First Five Minutes: By Robert E. Pittenger, Charles F. Hockett, and John J. Danehy. (New York: Martineau, 1960. Pp. 264. $6.50.)

Review by:
R. D. Laing

This book is the result of the cooperation of two psychiatrists (Pittenger and Danehy) and an anthropological linguist (Hockett) in analysing every item of sound recorded in the first five minutes of an initial psychiatric interview conducted by Redlich. This is one of three interviews discussed in what are now macroscopic terms in The Initial Interview (Gill, Newman, Redlich: New York, 1956).

The book is addressed principally to two groups of professional readers, psychiatrists and linguists. The psychiatric running commentary on the exchange is couched in fairly non-technical language. In this the authors try as far as possible to use descriptive categories that do not presuppose too many inferences. Thus Redlich's initial 'What Brings You Here?' is described as 'an opening gambit', which is relatively 'open-ended' and 'non-directive', etc.

The 'straight' transcription, however, is the least of it, for the linguistic analysis involves not only a phonetic transcription, but a paralinguistic notation for all the sounds that come out of each person, apart from language in the strict sense. Variations in volume, register, tempo, voice quality, the distributions of stress, the variations in smoothness of delivery, the hums and haws, the sighs (and types of sighs), pauses, silences, etc.—all are notated. One reads the complete transcript very much like a musical score, on four vertical levels proceeding from left to right. In this part of the book, as in certain hymn-books, the 'music' is on the upper half of pages cut horizontally in Dutch door style, while a discursive commentary is on the bottom half-pages.

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