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  • Studies in interactional linguistics ed. by Margaret Selting, and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
  • Bingyun Li
Studies in interactional linguistics. Ed. by Margaret Selting and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen. (Studies in discourse and grammar 10.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2001. Pp. viii, 438. ISBN 1588110974. $120 (Hb).

As Sandra A. Thompson states in the ‘Foreword’, ‘The title of this volume, Interactional Linguistics, heralds a new direction in the field of linguistics’ (vii). Drawing upon what has been accomplished in functional linguistics, linguistic anthropology, sociology/conversation analysis, and interactional linguistics, and fully aware of the dynamics and contextualization of language, it aims to account for language in use with more accuracy. This volume, which touches upon a wide range of topics in such languages as English, German, Korean, Japanese, Dutch, Finnish, and Turkish, should be welcomed by those doing interactional grammar.

This book is divided into two parts. The editors contribute an introduction to interactional linguistics, reviewing the four important steps towards an interactional view of linguistics, highlighting the close relations between language and interaction, and arguing in favor of a crosslinguistic perspective on interaction before commenting on the chapters to follow. The focus of Part 1 is ‘Language structure in interaction’. In ‘Emerging syntax for interaction: Noun phrases and clauses as a syntactic resource for interaction’, Marja-Liisa Helasvuo, drawing on Finnish and English everyday conversations, argues for viewing clauses as emergent constructions and for conversation participants’ orientation to clauses as syntactic units. In ‘At the intersection of turn and sequence: Negation and what comes next’, Cecilia E. Ford discusses how shorter multiunit turns structure and function in interaction, with special emphasis placed on how disaffiliative negations and the elaborations following them relate to one another, [End Page 820] whereby turn and sequence organization can be linguistically observed.

In ‘The implementation of possible cognitive shifts in Japanese conversation: Complementizers as pivotal devices’, Hiroko Tanaka argues that ‘complementizers are an effective device for the post hoc self-reconstruction of actions’ (105). In ‘On causal clause combining: The case of weil in spoken German’, Hannes Scheutz argues for a general rule of correspondence between the formal and functional properties of weil-clauses in spoken German. In ‘Dutch “but” as a sequential conjunction: Its use as a resumption marker’, Harrie Mazeland and Mike Huiskes demonstrate that different sequential features can be found in how maar-prefaced closings are built and how the context in which they occur is displayed. Auli Hakulinen focuses ‘On some uses of the discourse particle kyl (lä) in Finnish conversation’, and Juliette Corrin, Clare Tarplee, and Bill Wells adopt ‘A conversation analytic perspective on emergent syntax’, exploring the relationship between interactional linguistics and language development.

Part 2 accounts for ‘Interactional order and linguistic practice’. Margret Selting deals with ‘Fragments of units as deviant cases of unit production in conversational talk’, while Jakob Steensig examines three types of turn-construction methods in Danish and Turkish conversation: pragmatic, grammatical, and prosodic. In ‘An exploration of prosody and turn projection in English conversation’, Barbara A. Fox aims to show that ‘non-last’ accented syllables are phonetically less prominent than ‘last’ accented syllables. Makoto Hayashi’s ‘Postposition-initiated utterances in Japanese conversation: An interactional account of a grammatical practice’ shows that postposition-initiated utterances are structurally and temporally related to ongoing or immediate utterances. In ‘Confirming intersubjectivity through retroactive elaboration: Organization of phrasal units in otherinitiated repair sequences in Korean conversation’, Kyu-hyun Kim argues that common ground shared by Korean speakers and hearers results in the occurrence of ‘topic-initial questions formulated with elliptical expressions’ (364). Susanne Uhmann puts forward ‘Some arguments for the relevance of syntax to same-sentence self-repair in everyday German conversation’. Finally, in ‘Simple answers to polar questions: The case of Finnish’, Marja-Leena Sorjonen discusses three ways of responding to polar questions in Finnish: a repetition and the particles niin and joo.

To conclude, Studies in interactional linguistics represents a novel and important effort to explain linguistic phenomena in the...


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