An utterance is the smallest unit of speech. Utterances do not exist in written language, only their representations do. Utterances that are portrayed in writing are planned, in contrast to utterances in improvised spoken language. Utterances are units of speech that are examined by conversation analysis in a stream of work within ethnomethodology. Conversational analysis and ethnomethodology regard utterances as tools for the performance of activities, and not merely as things that stand in for other things. They regard all utterances as tools and not merely those, such as "I pronounce thee man and wife." This development of utterances is affected by the parent, adult, or guardian's socioeconomic status. The development of utterances in children is facilitated by the guardian the child has growing up.
Conversational Planning and Self-Serving Utterances: The Manipulation of Topical and Functional Structures in Dyadic Interaction. M. L. McLaughlin, A. D. Louden, J. L. Cashion, D. M. Altendorf, K. T. Baaske, S. W. Smith.
Problems with and Alternatives to the Use of Coding Schemes in Research on Counseling. Michael J. Patton.
Conversation analysis and ethnomethodology are proposed as alternate methods of data collection. These methods rely on detailed observation of the sequential utterances of counselor and client in order to identify the structures of their interaction that lend the encounter its perceived character for the participants. Thus, the context of meaning created by the participants through their relationship of interaction is made topical in the analysis of the ongoing even is of the interview.