Spanish and Portuguese | Topics in Linguistics: Variation & Language Content
S612 | 25174 | C. Felix-Brasdefer

Professor Cesar Felix-Brasdefer

S612	Topics in Linguistics: Variation & Language Content	

Topic: Conversation Analysis: Social Interaction and Grammar

R 4:00pm – 6:30pm/section# 25174/3cr/Location TBA

Using the framework of Conversation Analysis (CA), the aim of this
seminar is to examine the intersection between the linguistic and
non-linguistic realization of utterances (grammar) and the social
actions (interaction) they express in their sequential and
conversational context. The course focuses on how the realization of
grammar (intonation, syntax, and pragmatics) is used to organize
social interaction.  Particular attention will be given to the role
of prosody (intonation, loudness, time) and its impact on the
sequential organization of conversation. Prosody is part of the
vocal resources that we employ in social interaction to convey
expressive meaning. Syntax provides the grammatical elements found
in simple and compound sentences that are utilized to construct
utterances across turns. And, Pragmatics examines the negotiation of
meaning in social interaction. It centers on the speaker’s
intentional meaning, the interlocutor’s interpretation of that
meaning, and the context in which an interaction takes place. Taken
together, an analysis of social interaction and grammar examines how
turns are constructed in conversation, how grammar influences repair
in conversation, and how grammatical resources are utilized in
social interaction to carry out pragmatic meaning. This seminar will
examine in depth three areas that have not received much attention
in Spanish: mitigation, impoliteness, and the organization of turn-
taking in conversation. We will critically examine the literature on
these topics, review the methodology employed to analyze meaning in
interaction, and identify areas for future research. Throughout the
course of the semester, the student will carry out a research
project that addresses one aspect of the intersection of social
interaction and grammar in native or nonnative speaker discourse.
Potential topics to be researched may include: backchannels (or
listener responses) in natural corpora, the sequential organization
of one speech act, the role of mitigation in natural discourse
(epistemic modality), the role of laughter in social interaction,
turn-taking in conversation, and the role of impoliteness/rudeness
in conversation. The results of the research projects will be
presented at the end of the semester in a public colloquium.
Evaluation will be based on active class participation,
transcription of conversational data following conversation-analytic
transcript conventions, an annotated bibliography, critiques,
writing an abstract of the final project, review of the literature
on the topic selected, methodological design, presentation and
organization of results of an empirical study, discussion of results
in light of existing literature, and identification of areas for
future research.