Browsing by Subject "Interactional linguistics"

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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.
  • Huhtamäki, Martina; Grahn, Inga-Lill (2022)
    This paper examines explicit positive assessments (EPAs) in personal training, that is, the personal trainer's positive evaluations of the client's physical performance, including comments such as bra ('good'). The data consist of video-recorded training-sessions in Swedish from Finland and Sweden. The methodological framework is interactional linguistics, and the study explores the actions that EPAs perform as well as their linguistic design and embodied and sequential environment. The main actions performed by EPAs in personal training include transitioning between activities, encouraging the client, and making positive evaluations. The personal trainer (PT) may vary the lexical, syntactic, prosodic, and embodied features of the EPA to emphasize any of these actions or a combination of them. Overall, EPAs are a central resource for fulfilling the institutional goals of personal training by guiding the clients through the training-program and motivating them. In addition to their use as feedback on actions in the present moment, EPAs also include forward-focusing aspects aimed at guiding clients' future behavior. (c) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Paananen, Jenny; Stevanovic, Melisa; Valkeapää, Taina (2021)
    This paper focuses on the stancetaking formats used to express personal thoughts, namely Finnish ma aattelen/aattelin 'I think/thought', ma mietin 'I think/wonder', and mun mielesta/musta 'I think/in my opinion'. We study how these first-person formats are used in mental health rehabilitation group meetings, which aim to promote joint decision-making. In particular, we analyze whether the institutional asymmetry between support workers and clients is reflected in the use of these thought expressions. Our data comprise 23 video-recorded rehabilitation meetings, and the adopted methods are conversation analysis and interactional linguistics. Most of the stancetaking formats in our data are produced by support workers (106/129). The results of a sequential analysis conducted in this study demonstrate that support workers' thought expressions are embedded in their institutional actions, which are beyond the clients' authority. Moreover, our data suggest that support workers' and rehabilitants' thought expressions generate different participation dynamics. Although previous research has considered I think-formats typically as calls for other views, in institutional settings such as ours, these formats can also be interpreted as highlighting an institutional agent's controlling position. Acknowledging the existence of such differences in stancetaking practices can advance the design of new protocols to facilitate client participation.
  • Lindström, Jan Krister; Lindholm, Camilla Christina; Norrby, Catrin; Wide, Camilla; Nilsson, Jenny (John Benjamins, 2017)
    Studies in Language and Social Interaction
    This chapter investigates the use of imperative-formatted directives in Swedish medical consultations. The specific focus of the chapter is the division of labor between straight, non-modulated imperative turns and imperative turns which are modulated with a discourse particle or some other verbal mitigating device. The results show that non-modulated imperative turns are embedded in diagnostic work, nominating subsequent actions in a series. Orientations to projected trajectories of action and the other participant’s expectations are clearly present when modulated imperative turns are produced; they are also frequent in the opening and closing routines of the consultations. Thus, there is a link between routinized and projectable actions and the use of imperatives with a pragmatic modulating element.
  • Lindström, Jan; Laury, Ritva; Lindholm, Camilla (de Gruyter, 2019)
    Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs
    This chapter reports a study of Swedish and Finnish insubordinate om and jos ‘if’ clauses from a synchronic perspective as the clauses emerge in interactional sequences of action. Insubordinate conditional clauses have the potential to function as complete directives without any main clauses: the recipients are able to treat them as such, responding to the directive as soon as the insubordinate clause is produced. The authors show that the emergence of insubordinate conditionals is anchored in projectable, often routinized interactional trajectories, in which the verbal action is enhanced with multimodal communication. Routinization and contextual cues play a particularly prominent role in the kind of data that are analyzed here: service encounters and medical consultations. Insubordinate conditional requests emerge in interaction in response to verbal and non-verbal actions done (and not done) by the recipients of the requests, and are thus a product of the interaction of participants in conversation.
  • 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.
  • Sorjonen, Marja Leena; Peräkylä, Anssi; Laury, Ritva; Lindström, Jan (John Benjamins, 2021)
    Pragmatics and Beyond New Series
    Intersubjectivity is a complex concept, and some central approaches to it have been discussed in areas of, for example, philosophy (based on e.g. early work by Schuetz 1953), developmental psychology (Trevarthen & Aitken 2001), neuroscience (Iacoboni 2008) and primatology (Tomasello 2008; Tomasello, Carpenter & Hobson 2005). In the realm of the interactional approach that the chapters in this volume represent we can initially note the following. Intersubjectivity is a precondition for all human life: for social organization as well as for individual development and well-being. A primordial site for its creation and maintenance is human interaction. By focusing on the creation and maintenance of intersubjectivity, the authors of this book approach the topic from the perspectives of turn and action design, action attribution, challenges in achieving shared understanding, embodied practices in meaning-making and synchronized participant conduct, as well as developmental aspects of intersubjectivity. The core theoretical and methodological framework is Conversation Analysis, combined with methods of interactional linguistics and multimodal interaction analysis as well as the study of gesture and psychophysiology. This research promotes an understanding that intersubjectivity involves joint understanding and sharing of experience between humans (see e.g. Linell 2017). Intersubjectivity in interaction requires referential common ground, shared understanding of the meaning of linguistic forms, shared understanding of actions and sequences of action and shared understanding of the expression of emotion in sequences of action.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Norrby, Catrin; Lindström, Jan; Wide, Camilla; Nilsson, Jenny (University of Helsinki, 2018)
    Nordica Helsingiensia
    I servicesamtal engagerar sig kunden och personalrepresentanten i ett utbyte av information, varor och tjänster: kunden vill köpa något eller få information, personalen begär transaktionella handlingar, såsom betalning. När den andra parten levererat den efterfrågade handlingen kommenteras detta ofta av den mottagande parten med en positiv värderande respons som vad bra, perfekt, utmärkt. Vårt syfte är att undersöka sådana responser i servicesamtal i finlandssvenska och sverigesvenska. Materialet utgörs av en korpus av samtal som spelats in vid teaterkassor och bokningscentraler i olika städer i Sverige (Stockholm, Göteborg, Karlstad) och Finland (Helsingfors, Åbo, Vasa) inom forskningsprogrammet IVIP (Interaktion och variation i pluricentriska språk). Våra iakttagelser pekar på att det finns skillnader mellan finlandssvenska och sverigesvenska i fråga om hur positiva värderande responser uttrycks: mer återhållsamt som bra, fint, kiva (mest finlandssvenska) eller starkt uppgraderat som härligt, kanon, toppen (mest sverigesvenska). I första hand avser vi att undersöka sekvenser som innehåller värderande s.k. tredjedrag (begäran–leverans–respons).Tidigare forskning på engelskt material om s.k. high-grade assessments (t.ex. brilliant, wow, cool, is that so?) har visat att starkt uppgraderade värderingar fungerar som signaler på starkt engagemang, där samtalspartnern visar sin entusiasm, empati, sympati, förvåning eller avsky inför det som talaren säger utan att själv ta över turen (Antaki 2002). Vidare har man pekat på att uppgraderade responssekvenser fungerar som sätt att föra en interaktionell episod till sitt slut (Antaki, Houtkoop-Steenstra & Rapley 2000). Teoretiskt och metodiskt bygger vi på insikter från samtalsanalys, interaktionell lingvistik och variationspragmatik.
  • 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.
  • Lindström, Jan; Huhtamäki, Martina; Londen, Agnes Anne-Marie (John Benjamins, 2020)
    Typological Studies in Language
    This study examines noun phrases in a specific sequential context: other-repetitions in Swedish conversation, including everyday as well as institutional interaction. Repeating the previous speaker’s words can have various interactional functions, e.g., initiating repair, indicating surprise or challenge, or registering information. Our distributional results show that the NP is the typical item in repetition turns. The original structures targeted by repetitions vary from a single NP to clausal units housing NPs. The analysis shows that the identification of the interactional function of other-repetitions builds on their sequential position, prosodic design, and contextual information. Other-repetitions serve the general function of promoting intersubjectivity and participation in conversation, and the NP is demonstrably a central vehicle for this.
  • 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.
  • Lindström, Jan; Henricson, Sofie; Huhtamäki, Martina (2022)
    In this study we present an interactional linguistic analysis of pseudoclefts in Swedish based on audio and video recordings of everyday and institutional conversations, resulting in a collection of 100 instances. 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 cleft-clause is followed by an indeterminate stretch of discourse. The construction's functional properties have to do with projecting actions and generating discourse events, e.g. showing that the initial part has an important turn-projecting function by disclosing the speaker's stance towards the issue at hand. Pseudo-cleft constructions are recurrently employed for marking discourse shifts, e.g. from a positive to a negative stance. Prosodic organization brings unity to the overall construction of clefts and visual cues can be used to convey significant processing activity by the speaker during the production of a pseudocleft. Our data from institutional interaction shows that pseudoclefts are heavily used by the expert rather than lay participant, thus contributing to the creation of institutional roles and social order. (c) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://
  • Vatanen, Anna (2018)
    This paper investigates the Finnish ma tiedan, 'I know' utterance in responsive position. The data, gathered from naturally occurring interactions, indicate that these responses occur in sequences with epistemic incongruence: the first pair part is an informing type turn, which presupposes an unknowing (or a less knowing) recipient. With the ma tiedan response, the response-speaker resists this implication and points out the epistemic incongruence there is at that moment. The ma tiedan speaker thus resists the unknowing status attributed to her/him and claims to be knowledgeable, and at the same time resists the social action being accomplished in the informing turn. The uniformity of the expression, its sequential context and interactional function suggest that this expression is rather formulaic. The verb tietaa 'to know' is typically described as a complement taking predicate, but the ma tiedan responses include no object argument whatsoever; the object of knowing is to be inferred from the previous turn. The form of the expression is fitted to its sequential position. The turn may also contain response particles (e.g., nii or joo) which specify its contextual interpretation. The data suggest that the use of these Finnish utterances is different from how I know responses are used in English conversations, where the responses may signal not only knowledge but also affiliation. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • 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.
  • Lindström, Jan; Norrby, Catrin; Wide, Camilla; Nilsson, Jenny (2019)
    This study examines positive low- and high-grade assessments in service encounters between customers and salespersons conducted in Swedish and recorded in Sweden and Finland. The assessments occur in a regular sequential pattern as third-turn moves that complete request-delivery sequences, longer coherent requesting sections, or request sequences in a pre-closing context. The positive valence of the assessments coheres with the satisfactory outcome of task completion, but their function is primarily pragmatic, used for segmenting the flow of task-oriented institutional interaction. The assessments stand as lexical TCUs, and their delivery is characterized by downgraded prosody and the speaker's embodied shift away from the other. The analysis reveals distributional differences in the interactional practice: Customers produce task-completing assessments more often than the salespersons, and high-grade assessments are more frequent in the data from Sweden than from Finland. The data are in Sweden Swedish and Finland Swedish with English translations.
  • Rönnqvist, Sara; Lindström, Jan (2021)
    This article offers an analysis of turn-expanding practices with the connective a sen 'and then' in Swedish multi-party conversations in which the participants discuss and assess works of visual art. The connective is recurrently used to introduce a turn continuation, i.e. a stretch of talk that is produced after a possibly completed turn-constructional unit (TCU). We identify three types of continuations: same-speaker continuations, occurring post gap or post-other talk, and other-continuations by the next speaker. Some of the "and then" continuations are clausal, syntactically free-standing, while non-clausal continuations have more in common with TCU increments. "And then" continuations specify, restrict or redirect the unfolding contribution while at the same time orienting to a collective interactional project. In same-speaker continuations, the speaker can introduce a new aspect of the established theme or offer an account. Other-continuations can be used to achieve a shift in footing to introduce a somewhat non-aligning contribution. Both grammar and embodied resources (especially hand gestures) are activated in the management of the completion of a prior turn unit, the initiation of a turn continuation and the recompletion of the speaker's turn. The typical multimodal trajectory is: syntactic completion of a first unit + retracted gesture; link to prior talk and upcoming talk with "and then" followed by the core of the continuation + a redeployed gesture; and finally, syntactic completion of the continuing unit + retracted gesture to a rest position.
  • Lindström, Jan Krister; Wide, Camilla (Göteborg University, 2017)
    Göteborgsstudier i nordisk språkvetenskap
    I det här bidraget koncentrerar vi oss på inledningssekvenser i servicesamtal på svenska som spelats in vid biljettkassor på teatrar, arenor och kulturcenter i Sverige och Finland. Vi fokuserar specifikt ärendepresentationer, dvs. hur kunderna formulerar orsaken till sitt besök. Typiska ärenden i materialet utgörs av inköp av biljetter eller avhämtning av på förhand bokade biljetter. Våra frågeställningar gäller utformningen av ärendepresentationer: vilken variation finns det i den grammatiska formen av den här typen av social handling, vilka pragmatiska markörer förekommer i den, i vilken mån är variationen förknippad med ärendets art eller varieteten (sverigesvenska, finlandssvenska)? I vårt material kan vi observera en rätt stor variation i hur kunderna formulerar sitt ärende: från korthuggna, frasformade yttranden (Matchen ikväll) till satsformade deklarativa eller interrogativa yttranden med eller utan modala element (Ja skulle komma å lösa ut två biljetter; Har du några biljetter kvar på måndag?). Kundernas turer kan även innehålla pragmatiska markörer av typen du (Sverige), hördu (Finland), va (Sverige), dedär (Finland). Vidare kan turen där ärendet presenteras föregås av en förklarande försekvens eller följas av en eftersekvens i samma syfte. Undersökningsmaterialet omfattar ca 300 videoinspelade sverigesvenska och finlandssvenska servicesamtal från 2013–14. Materialet har insamlats inom forskningsprogrammet Interaktion och variation i pluricentriska språk (IVIP), som undersöker språkliga och interaktionella praktiker i sverigesvenska och finlandssvenska (se t.ex. Norrby m.fl. 2015). Metodiskt anknyter vår analys till variationspragmatik och interaktionell lingvistik (Schneider & Barron 2008, Couper-Kuhlen & Selting 2001).