Browsing by Subject "Conversation Analysis"

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  • Pekarek Doehler, Simona; Maschler, Yael; Keevallik, Leelo; Lindström, Jan (John Benjamins, 2020)
    Studies in Language and Social Interaction
    The past two decades have witnessed a sea-change in our understanding of language. Grammar is no longer dominantly seen from a “bird’s eye view” (cf. Hopper, 2011) as an autonomously structured inventory of items and abstract combination rules, but is increasingly understood as a usage-based, temporal, and ever-adaptive resource for people’s acting in the social world (Hopper, 1987, 2011; Hakulinen, 2001; Thompson, 2002; Tomasello, 2003; Ellis & Larsen Freeman, 2006; Linell, 2009; Auer, 2009; Bybee, 2010; Fox & Thompson, 2010). The present collection of original chapters taps into this understanding of language and explores the ways by which patterns of complex syntax – that is, syntactic structures beyond a simple clause – relate to the local contingencies of action formation in social interaction, and how they are tied to participants’ nonverbal (prosodic and/or embodied) conduct. The collection investigates both emergent and emerging aspects of grammar (see the discussions in Hopper, 2011 and Auer & Pfänder, 2011a): it tracks on-line emergent clause-combining patterns as they are ‘patched together’ on the fly in response to local interactional contingencies (such as lack of recipient response); it also investigates emerging grammatical patterns, i.e., patterns that routinize (or: sediment) in the grammar as interactional resources, for instance for the purpose of projecting what comes next. We thus focus both on the process of the structuring of patterns of language use in real time and on the results of repeated language use in and for social interaction over time, in an attempt to shed light on two facets of grammar as a highly adaptive resource for interaction. For the past five decades, scholars working on the social dynamics of conversation have seen conversationalists’ use of language as one of the central foci of analysis. This has resulted in a collaboration with linguists towards “a syntaxfor-conversation”, a concept famously coined by Schegloff (1979). However, the path towards a micro-socially attuned grammar, which puts the sequential organization of conversational talk in the foreground, has not been straightforward; it underwent significant development only rather recently, since the turn of the 21st century, not least through Schegloff’s visionary paper on the grammar of turn organization (1996) and the advent of the sub-discipline of interactional linguistics (Selting & Couper-Kuhlen, 2001; Couper-Kuhlen & Selting, 2018; going back to Ochs, Schegloff & Thompson, 1996). It is in this tradition of interactionally sensitive research on language structure and the organization of social actions that we position ourselves, setting a special focus on the centerpiece of traditional grammatical inquiry, namely, syntax, which we scrutinize in light of its temporal structuring within situated social interaction.
  • Määttä, Simo Kalervo (2017)
    This paper analyzes the general impact and the potentially adverse effects of the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in a telephone-interpreted police interview in Finland, which was recorded and transcribed. The data were analyzed manually, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The analysis focuses on issues of mutual understanding and the organization of discursive flow from the interpreter’s perspective, using theoretical and methodological tools from conversation analysis, critical sociolinguistics, and critical discourse analysis. Examples of repair initiations and candidate understandings in the data, divided into three categories based on the degree of interpreter intervention in interaction, illustrate the interpreter’s prominent role as a coordinator of discursive flow and repairer of communication problems. However, while the ELF-speaking interpreter shows accommodation to the ELF-speaking migrant’s linguistic resources, the outcome is not necessarily beneficial to the migrant. The service provider’s command of English complicates the interaction. Thus, in dialogue interpreting, ELF may function as an instrument of linguistic unfairness in ways that are often unpredictable. The representations that the interpreter constructs of the other participants as persons with limited linguistic and discursive resources play an important role in such processes. The peculiar features of telephone interpreting intersecting with issues related to ELF intensify such phenomena.
  • Norrby, Catrin; Lindström, Jan; Nilsson, Jenny; Wide, Camilla (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2021)
    RJ:s skriftserie
    Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages (IVIP) is a research programme which was funded for eight years (2013–2020) by the Swedish research foundation Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for the Advancement of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The programme findings have, to date, resulted in some sixty publications; for details the reader is directed to the list of publications available at the IVIP homepage ( The plan to investigate pluricentricity based on interactions in the national varieties of Swedish evolved partly from an earlier Australian research project on address practices in the pluricentric languages English, French, German and Swedish (Clyne/Norrby/Warren 2009), which had uncovered some interesting pragmatic differences between national varieties of these languages, and partly from the realisation that there was very little research on pluricentricity from an interactional perspective at the time. Accordingly, the main motivation of the research programme was to address this research gap and, more specifically, to contribute to the fuller description of the variation in communicative patterns between the two national varieties of Swedish based on comparable datasets. This book reports the project’s main findings concerning following areas of interest: greeting behavior, forms of address, presenting the reason-for-a-visit, directive actions, assessments, feedback, and thanking. Also topics such as embodiment, non-verbal resources and artefacts in interaction are discussed.
  • Henricson, Sofie; Lindström, Jan (2019)
    This is an introduction to the edited volume 'Språk och interaktion 4'. It maps the profile of the volume based on the articles included in it, lifting up classical topics in studies of language and interaction, and especially in conversation analysis, and points to the key topic of the volume, interactional asymmetries in a societal context.
  • Fox, Barbara A.; Heinemann, Trine (2017)
    In previous interactional studies of formats for utterances doing requests, attention has been given to the initial verb (such as can/could or wonder) and possibly the subject (especially I vs you). The current study examines the main types of grammatical variation found in what we call the " x component," that is the segment after the initial verb and subject. We examine two types of requests: those with can you x and those with wonder x, and we find that variations in the x component in these requests are associated with variations in the unfolding development of the request sequences. We thus suggest that the x component is crucial to the interactional work accomplished by the requesting utterance.
  • Jag vet 
    Lindström, Jan (Carlsson bokförlag, 2019)
    This chapter gives a concise account of the use of the sentence fragment "jag vet" (I know) in Swedish conversation. The literal content of the expression has bleached and "jag vet" often functions as a responsive device, displaying recognition and sometimes even resistance towards what the prior speaker has said or suggested. The expression is thus a vehicle for managing epistemic relations and intersubjectivity between participants in social interaction.
  • Henricson, Sofie; Lindström, Jan (2019)
    In this study we present an interactional linguistic analysis of pseudo-clefts in Swedish based on audio and video recordings of everyday and institutional conversations, resulting in a collection of 80 instances. The ‘free relative’ initiating the construction can have an English-style wh-word as an opener ("va" ‘what), but in the majority of cases there is a fused item consisting of a demonstrative and a relativizer ("det som"), in resemblance of "ce que" in French. Our collection shows that there is variation in the degree to which pseudo-cleft constructions are syntactically integrated: from fully integrated biclausal constructions (cleft clause + copula verb + main clause) to non-copular variants and further to variants in which the latter clause stands in a loose relation to the cleft clause or is aborted or even missing. The analysis shows that the initial part (cleft clause, or A-part) has an important turn-projecting function: it alerts the recipient about the pragmatic course of the speaker’s unfolding turn. This projected content is very much coded in the predicate verb of the A-part, which often refers to the speaker’s stance towards the issue at hand. Moreover, the construction constitutes a shift in the speaker’s ongoing reasoning or a narrative, signalling a transition from a positive to a critical stance or from the background of a telling to its peak or point. Half of our instances come from everyday interactions, the other half from institutional settings with asymmetric participant roles of the expert–non-expert kind. One feature that stands out in the institutional contexts is that pseudo-cleft constructions are typically produced by the expert part. Our findings shed new light on structural and functional properties of pseudo-clefts not only in the Swedish language but also more generally in mundane and institutional spoken interaction.
  • Huhtamäki, Martina; Lindström, Jan; Londen, Anne-Marie (2020)
    This study examines other-repetitions in Finland Swedish talk-in-interaction: their sequential trajectories, prosodic design, and lexicogrammatical features. The key objective is to explore how prosody can contribute to the action conveyed by a repetition turn, that is, whether it deals with a problem of hearing or understanding, a problem of expectation, or just registers receipt of information. The analysis shows that large and upgraded prosodic features (higher onset, wider pitch span than the previous turn) co-occur with repair- and expectation-oriented repetitions, whereas small, downgraded prosody (lower onset, narrower pitch span than the previous turn) is characteristic of registering. However, the distinguishing strength of prosody is mostly gradient (rather than discrete), and because of this, other concomitant cues, most notably the speakers’ epistemic positions in relation to the repeated item, are also of importance for ascribing a certain pragmatic function to a repetition.
  • Linell, Per; Lindström, Jan Krister (2016)
    This paper explores issues of intersubjectivity and shared understanding as they arise in dyadic spoken interaction. Using data from Swedish conversations, we approach the topic by focusing on the functions of a reactive construction that occurs in situations when a linguistic expression (x) has been used in a prior utterance, and this expression is found to be only partially acceptable in the situation at hand. It is therefore reacted to by one of the interlocutors, and negotiated in a new turn initiated by x-°a-x, i.e. a unit in which two identical copies of x are conjoined by °a ‘and’, and then expanded by a supporting argument. The pragmatic functions of the construction include that of suggesting a sufficient clarification of what should be a reasonable situated meaning and an intersubjective basis for ensuing talk.
  • Norrby, Catrin; Lindström, Jan; Nilsson, Jenny; Wide, Camilla (John Benjamins, 2020)
    Many languages are pluricentric in nature, i.e. they exist as a national or official language in more than one nation. They range from languages diffused widely across different continents, such as English or Spanish, to languages predominantly used in neighbouring countries, such as Dutch or Swedish. In the following we introduce readers to both foundational and more recent research of pluricentric languages, as well as current debates in the field. While the first attempts to describe the conditions typical of pluricentric languages appeared in the 1960s, it took until the 1980s for the field to establish itself, through theoretical as well as empirical accounts of pluricentricity. From early on, there have been accounts of the power relationships between different varieties of pluricentric languages, in particular with regard to power asymmetries between national varieties, often expressed as dominant versus non-dominant varieties. Among other things, this has resulted in extensive research into the varying status of non-dominant national, or sub-national, varieties, an endeavour which also draws attention to language ideologies and linguistic rights of national (and other) varieties of pluricentric languages. A related issue here concerns whether the description primarily should follow national borders or concern regional variation within a language, often subsumed under the headings pluricentricity and pluriareality respectively. Parallel to such theoretically motivated inquiry, there has been substantial empirical research from the outset. The early, foundational work in the field was primarily concerned with the description of linguistic structural differences, such as phonological, morphological or lexical variation between varieties of pluricentric languages. This interest has hardly abated, but it has been complemented by other perspectives in more recent years. In particular, there has been an increasing emphasis on pragmatic and interactional variation. The shift in interest to include pragmatic variation can to a large extent be credited to work within the field variational pragmatics where pluricentricity is treated as a case of regional variation. While studies in variational pragmatics have explored micro-pragmatic variation, based on both experimental and actual discourse, more recently others have focused on the sequentiality of authentic interactional data from the perspective of conversation analysis and interactional linguistics. Even though some methodological differences exist between variational pragmatics and the interactional paradigm, they also have much in common and there has been cross-fruition between the two.
  • Koivisto, Aino Loviisa (2019)
    This article discusses a less-studied aspect of repair sequences in conversation, that is, their exit phases. It will be argued that while the most common way of exiting is a resumption of the main activity straight after requested repair, sometimes specific receipt objects are also needed. The focus of the article is on the use of these repair receipts. Two types of motivation for using them as exit devices are discussed: prolongation of the repair sequence and the repairers' critical stance toward the repair initiation. The article will also consider the use of different change-of-state tokens as repair receipts in Finnish conversation. It will be argued that a claim of now-understanding (aa) is the repair receipt proper, enabling sequence closure and resumption of the main activity, while news receipts target the newsworthiness of the information provided in the repair turn, enabling sequence expansion.
  • Määttä, Simo Kalervo; Wiklund, Satu Mari-Anna (2019)
    This article focuses on open class repair initiators in an asylum screening interview (duration 2:22:15) in Finland, telephone-interpreted between Finnish, language spoken by the officer, and French, language used by the asylum seeker. An open class repair initiator indicates that the entire turn is regarded as problematic and/or that the nature of the problem or the problematic element are not clear. This type of repair initiator indicates that the listener has not heard the turn, has not understood it, or wants to give the impression of not having heard or understood it. Studying this type of repair initiators allows emitting hypotheses concerning the causes of problems of understanding and misunderstandings occurring in telephone-interpreted institutional interaction and to describe the strategies of resolution of these problematic situations. Methodologically, this study falls within the framework of Conversation Analysis, combined with insights form Interpreting Studies and Critical Sociolinguistics.
  • Keevallik, Leelo; Lindström, Jan (Studentlitteratur, 2017)
    I detta kapitel visar vi hur man kan studera språk som verktyg för kommunikation. Syftet är att förstå hur språket fungerar när människor muntligt försöker göra sig förstådda för varandra. Man har länge velat tro att det går att särskilja ett slags grammatiskt maskineri som åstadkommer korrekta strukturer separat från deras sammanhang. Här tar vi istället fram hela den kontextuella komplexitet där språket dagligen förekommer och visar hur grammatiken växer fram i en konkret fysisk och kulturell omgivning. Forskningsgrenen som fokuserar språket i mänskliga möten har börjat kallas interaktionell lingvistik (Lindström 2014), där det interaktionella tar fasta på turtagning och sekventiell organisering av talarturer, medan det lingvistika bygger på en i princip traditionell grammatisk syn på syntax och lexikon men innefattar också en fonetisk grundpelare när det gäller yttrandeprosodi. När intresset vid sidan av språkliga strukturer riktas mot blickar, gester och kroppsrörelser i det fysiska rummet har man även börjat tala om multimodal interaktionsanalys (Mondada 2007). Metodologiskt bygger den interaktionellt orienterade språkforskningen till väsentliga delar på en sociologisk tradition som heter samtalsanalys och som studerar hur sociala normer och samhällets institutioner upprätthålls genom samtal (Heritage 1984; för en introduktion på svenska, se Norrby 2014). I denna tradition betraktar man språkliga handlingar som själva grunden till både kultur och samhälle, och man kan därför även som interaktionell språkvetare bidra till förståelsen av dessa komplexa företeelser.
  • De Jaegher, Hanne; Peräkylä, Anssi Matti; Stevanovic, Tuire Melisa (2016)
    What makes possible the co-creation of meaningful action? In this paper, we go in search of an answer to this question by combining insights from interactional sociology and enaction. Both research schools investigate social interactions as such, and conceptualise their organisation in terms of autonomy. We ask what it could mean for an interaction to be autonomous, and discuss the structures and processes that contribute to and are maintained in the so-called interaction order. We also discuss the role played by individual vulnerability as well as the vulnerability of social interaction processes in the co-creation of meaningful action. Finally, we outline some implications of this interdisciplinary fraternisation for the empirical study of social understanding, in particular in social neuroscience and psychology, pointing out the need for studies based on dynamic systems approaches on origins and references of coordination, and experimental designs to help understand human co-presence.
  • Lindström, Jan Krister; Lindholm, Camilla Christina; Laury, Ritva Hannele (2016)
    This article concerns the sequential emergence of Finnish and Swedish insubordinated jos and om ‘if’ adverbial clauses in interaction from a synchronic, online use perspective. The authors first demonstrate that such clauses function as complete directives without any main clauses, and that recipients treat them as such, responding to the directive as soon as the insubordinate clause is produced. It is then shown that many insubordinated conditionals used as directives (ICDs) are associated with a certain orderly sequential pattern organized in adjacency pairs, which bears a certain similarity to bona fide conditional clauses. This suggests that conditional clause patterns, including insubordinated ones, emerge in interaction in response to actions done and not done by the recipients of the requests, and are thus a product of the interaction of participants in conversation.