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About

This project researches how speakers manage to produce complex clausal patterns (complex sentences, compound sentences, subordinated clauses) in real-time spoken conversation. The central tenet is that these complex structures of language emerge bit by bit, out of partly prefabricated bits of language. Syntax and grammar are thus seen as a process from the speaker’s point of view, rather than as a product that has a determined trajectory from the onset to the end. Language structures that are produced in this emergent way may have more diversified looks than those example structures that are commonly presented as representative cases in grammar books. 

The project has two major components: a) a study of Swedish talk-in-interaction and b) a comparative study involving Estonian, French, Italian and Hebrew with international sister projects. In our co-operation we will engage in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural pragmatic research. Our analyses take the micro-level of linguistic and interactional processes as its starting point. They will proceed according to time-tested conversation analytic discovery principles, closely studying participants’ turn-construction and the recipients’ subsequent understandings in video-recorded interaction.

Different languages, although deploying different structural resources, reflect some basic contingencies of social interaction in similar ways, e.g. turn-taking, action projection and expansion, and self-repair. On the other hand, it is not necessarily the case that social actions are identical or identically distributed across all cultures; correspondencies between action and grammatical pattern also distribute differently in languages.  

Given the above, the objectives, both regarding component A (a study of Swedish) and component B (cross-language comparison), of the proposed project are as follows:

  • To scrutinize emergence in interaction
  • To analyze turn and action design
  • To study discourse vs. grammatical motivation
  • To compare L1 and L2 production in clause-combining practices