What's in a dialogue? On the dynamics of meaning-making in English conversation

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (sammanläggning)

573 Nedladdningar (Pure)


This thesis is concerned with spoken dialogue and the dynamic negotiation of meaning in English conversation. It serves two aims, one theoretical and the other practical. The theoretical aim is to further our understanding of the kinds of properties that influence the meaning of constructions in spoken dialogue and the role of underlying socio-cognitive processes. The practical aim is to compile a new corpus of spoken British English, the London–Lund Corpus 2, modelled on the same principles as the first London–Lund Corpus from 50 years prior. The aims are addressed in the four articles included in the thesis.
The first article focuses on a very common construction in English, namely I think COMPLEMENT and the family of complement-taking predicate constructions. It questions the rigid treatment of the constructions in APPRAISAL theory as always having the same dialogic meaning. For example, I think is considered to always open up the space for dialogic alternatives. By combining data from the London–Lund Corpus 1 with a laboratory experiment, we show that I think COMPLEMENT serves not only to expand the dialogic space, but it may also close it down. The factors that influence the dialogic meaning of the construction are not only semantic but also prosodic, collocational and social.
The second article draws on data from the London–Lund Corpus 2 to shed new light on the interaction of intersubjective processes and priming mechanisms in dialogic resonance, which emerges when speakers reproduce constructions from prior turns. It does so by investigating the intersubjective functions that resonance has in discourse and the time it takes for speakers to resonate with each other. The results show that resonance is often used to express divergent views, which are produced very quickly. We argue that, while priming reduces the gap between speaker turns, intersubjective processes give the speakers the motivation to respond early. This is due to the increased sense of interpersonal solidarity that resonance is assumed to evoke.
The third and the fourth articles are both concerned with the reactive what-x construction, which has not received any attention in the literature so far. The aim of the third article is to define and describe the constructional properties of the construction based on data from the London–Lund Corpus 2. The constructional representation includes not only lexical–semantic information but also essential dialogic and prosodic information, which are mostly missing in Construction Grammar. The fourth article combines data from the London–Lund Corpora to demonstrate the complex interplay between social motivations and cognitive mechanisms in the diachronic development of constructions in spoken dialogue. It shows that the development of the reactive what-x construction is triggered by the pragmatic strengthening of discourse-structuring and turn-taking inferences, and proceeds through metonymic micro-adjustments of the conceptual structure of the construction itself.
In sum, the thesis provides a systematic and empirically grounded account of the dynamic negotiation of meaning in spoken dialogue. It contributes new knowledge to our understanding of the broad and interactive nature of constructional meaning and the complex interaction of underlying socio-cognitive processes. The compilation of the London–Lund Corpus 2 will facilitate many more investigations of this kind.
Tilldelande institution
  • Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna
  • Paradis, Carita, handledare
  • Johansson, Victoria, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2019 sep. 19
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-88899-49-1
ISBN (elektroniskt)978-91-88899-50-7
StatusPublished - 2019 sep.

Bibliografisk information

Defence details
Date: 2019-09-19
Time: 10:15
Place: SOL
External reviewer
Name: Martin Hilpert
Title: professor
Affiliation: Université de Neuchâtel

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Språkstudier


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