Browsing by Subject "Emergent grammar"

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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.
  • Lindström, Jan; Lindholm, Camilla; Grahn, Inga-Lill; Huhtamäki, Martina (John Benjamins, 2020)
    Studies in language an social interaction
    This chapter investigates the formatting of instructions in physical training with personal trainers or physiotherapists. Instructions occur in multimodal activities where invitations to action, compliances with them, and accounts for them emerge through grammatical, prosodic and embodied resources. We identified a two-part pattern [directive & account] that accomplishes a complex structural and pragmatic unit in trainers’ instructions. The instructions are grammatically formed of consecutive clause combinations in which the directive part is a declarative or an imperative. These combinations emerge in interactive sequences and are a designed, rather than a contingent feature in the making of instructions. Nevertheless, there is variation in their sequential emergence and grammatical and prosodic composition, from tight packages to projected or expanded clause/action combinations.
  • 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.
  • Auer, Peter; Lindström, Jan (2016)
    In this paper, we argue that the suggested mirror-equivalence of "left-" and "right-" adjoined or-positioned constituents in syntax is misleading from the point of view of Interactional Linguistics and needs to be replaced by a positionally sensitive grammatical analysis, in which pre- and post-positioning is seen in the context of the sequential unfolding of conversation in time. We show this on the basis of various examples from conversational German and Swedish. Our main empirical focus is on pre- and post positioned verba sentiendi expressions of the type ich denke ... or jag tror ... (cf. English I think). A quantitative analysis shows that these expressions have an uneven distribution in pre- and post-position, as well as in different discourse genres. In a sequential analysis, we can see a positionally dependent differentiation with respect to syntactic integration and interactional meaning, especially with reference to the dynamics of stance taking and turn taking: post-position is more attuned to deal with local contingencies of turn-taking and next-speaker uptake, whereas pre-position establishes a contextualizing frame for the upcoming action. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • 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.
  • Henricson, Sofie; Lindström, Jan (Skrifter från svenska institutionen vid Åbo Akademi, 2020)
    Skrifter från Svenska institutionen vid Åbo Akademi
    In this paper, we present an interactional analysis of pseudo-cleft constructions in Swedish talk-in-interaction. The pseudo-cleft construction is an existing speakers’ resource in Swedish interaction, and it displays regular structural patterns and characteristic interactional functions. Swedish pseudo clefts, such as "va ja inte gillar e hennes nasala röst" ‘what I don’t like is her nasal voice’, are bipartite constructions where Part A of the construction, "va ja inte gillar" ‘what I don’t like’, is a nominal relative clause headed by the relative pronoun "vad" ‘what’ or the demonstrative "det" ‘that’, often combined with the relativizer "som". The copula verb, "e" ‘is’, links Part A with the subjective complement, Part B, "hennes nasala röst" ‘her nasal voice’, which is traditionally analysed as the focus-bearing cleft constituent. As our analysis show,s in conversational, online speaking there is some variation in the degree to which pseudo-cleft constructions are syntactically integrated: from fully integrated biclausal constructions to non-copular variants and further to variants in which the latter turn-part stands in a loose relation to the cleft clause or is aborted or even missing. Our analysis is based on a collection of ca. 80 pseudo-cleft constructions excerpted from audio- and video-recorded interactions. We will account for the construction’s functional properties that have to do with projecting actions and generating discourse events, e.g. showing that Part A has an important turn-projecting function in that it often discloses the speaker’s stance towards the issue at hand. The pseudo-cleft constructions are recurrently employed for marking discourse shifts, e.g. from a positive to a negative stance. These can be paralleled with previous studies on pseudo-cleft constructions e.g. in English, German, French, and Hebrew (e.g. Hopper & Thompson 2008; Günthner 2011; Pekarek Doehler 2011; Maschler & Fishman 2020). Our findings shed new light on structural and functional properties of pseudo-clefts in the Swedish language, but also more generally in spoken interaction.