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The emergent grammar of clause-combining in social interaction: A cross-linguistic perspective (the French component)

English title The emergent grammar of clause-combining in social interaction: A cross-linguistic perspective (the French component)
Applicant Pekarek Doehler Simona
Number 178819
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Centre de Linguistique Appliquée ISLC Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Romance languages and literature
Start/End 01.10.2018 - 30.09.2022
Approved amount 776'620.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Romance languages and literature
Other languages and literature

Keywords (6)

projection; emergent grammar; social interaction; grammar-in-interaction; cross-linguistic perspective; clause-combining

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Ce projet propose une étude comparative de la manière de la manière dont des langues différentes opèrent sous les contraintes dynamiques de l’interaction sociale. Se focalisant sur 4 langues de familles distinctes (français, estonien, hébreux, suédois), il interroge le rôle que jouent les constructions grammaticales complexes (des combinatoires de propositions de type principale + subordonné) dans la coordination d’actions sociales. Le projet ouvre des perspectives sur les possibles motivations interactionnelles de structures grammaticales et avance des arguments en faveur d’une conception du langage comme temporel, émergent et foncièrement enchevêtré avec d’autres ressources sémiotiques.
Lay summary

L’étude – récente – du langage dans son habitat premier (l’interaction sociale) révèle que les constructions grammaticales fonctionnent comme des ressources pour organiser l’interaction sociale au sein des différentes langues. Aujourd’hui, le moment est venu pour élargir l’horizon en passant de l’investigation de la grammaire-dans-l’interaction dans des langues individuelles à la comparaison systématique de la manière dont des langues différentes opèrent sous les contraintes dynamiques de l’interaction sociale.

Dans ce projet, nous nous proposons d’interroger, dans une perspective comparative entre français, estonien, finlandais et suédois, le rôle que jouent les constructions grammaticales complexes (des combinatoires de propositions de type principale + subordonné) dans la coordination d’actions sociales: Comment les locuteurs utilisent-ils ces constructions pour gérer les exigences de l’interaction sociale, telles la projection d’actions à venir ou la réparation de problèmes d’intercompréhension? Nous étudions cette question sur la base de données vidéo de conversations ordinaires en prêtant une attention centrale à l’interface entre les conduites verbales et celles non-verbales (gestes, regards, postures) des interlocuteurs.

Le volet (A) du projet enrichit la description de la langue française à la lumière de son utilisation au sein de l’interaction sociale, longtemps restée ignorée. Le volet (B) avance, sur la base d’une collaboration internationale, notre compréhension des tendances inter-linguistiques dans le domaine de la grammaire-en-interaction. Pris ensemble, les deux volets ouvrent de nouvelles perspectives sur la manière dont différentes langues accommodent les principes fondamentaux de l’interaction sociale. Ils alimentent des discussions actuelles sur les possibles motivations interactionnelles de structures grammaticales et avancent des arguments empiriques en faveur d’une conception du langage comme fondamentalement temporel, émergent et foncièrement enchevêtré avec d’autres ressources sémiotiques.  

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.07.2018

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
191558 Actions et conduites mimo-gestuelles dans l’usage conversationnel des relatives en français 01.11.2019 Open Access Books

Abstract

The past two decades have witnessed a sea change in our understanding of language. Usage-based approaches have forged an empirically grounded comprehension of language as contingent, temporal, and ever-adaptive. Based on a focus on language use within its primary habitat (social interaction) that is unique in the history of linguistics, interactional linguistics has evidenced how grammatical constructions function as resources for organizing social interaction in a growing number of languages. It is now time to broaden the analytic scope from studies of grammar and interaction in single languages to systematic comparative analyses investigating how different languages work under the constraints of the temporal unfolding of social interaction. In this project, we ask: How are linguistic constructions used by speakers to deal with the fundamental exigencies of social interaction such as projecting upcoming actions, repairing trouble, or responding to recipients’ actions or absence of these? How do related grammatical resources, with related (but often non-identical) structural properties, shape the way interaction is conducted in different languages? We address these questions with regard to a core component of complex syntax, namely clause-combining. The present project, although stand-alone, is interrelated with other on-going efforts designed to address these same issues in four coordinated research projects across four languages from different language (sub)families: French (Romance), Estonian (Finno-Ugric), Hebrew (Semitic), Swedish (Germanic). The project comprises two components: (A) a French component, consisting of empirical analysis of clause-combining patterns in French talk-in-interaction; (B) a comparative component, consisting in cross-linguistic comparison carried out in collaboration with the Estonian, Hebrew, and Swedish projects. We analyze video-recorded naturally occurring interactional data. Thereby, we work toward a holistic understanding of language as inextricably intertwined with other semiotic resources such as gesture, gaze and posture within the complex ecology of mundane social interaction.The project is designed as fundamental research with strong implications for theory-building. Component (A) enriches the grammatical description of the French language in the light of its use in social interaction; it does so within a classical field of syntax that has to date remained largely unexplored with regard to its interactional workings in French and in many other languages. Component (B) brings us a step further in understanding cross-linguistic tendencies in grammar-in-interaction, opening a window on how different languages accommodate fundamental principles of social interaction, such as the anticipation of upcoming actions. Over all, the project expands our understanding of the functioning-in-use of natural languages through the scrutiny of a basic component of complex syntax, i.e., clause-combining. It offers a precedent for systematic cross-linguistic comparison of grammar-in-interaction, and thereby extends current discussions on possible interactional motivations for the constituency of grammatical constructions. And it provides empirical support for a conception of language as fundamentally temporal, emergent, adaptive, as well as complexly interwoven with other semiotic resources.
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