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IV Constructions in interaction

Jorg Bucker

Und mit der Party, wie wollen wir das organisieren? Tying constructions with the preposition mit in German talk-in-interaction

Introduction

As various studies have shown, German uninflectable word classes have a strong dialogical bias inasmuch as their functions cannot be separated from concrete conditions and requirements of situated interaction. Auer (2006), Deppermann (2009) and Imo (2010b), for example, argue convincingly that the use of adverbs and particles has to be related consistently to the temporal and dialogical emergence of structure and meaning in spoken discourse (see also Auer 2000, 2005, 2007). Furthermore, several German conjunctions have been shown to establish connections between discourse segments as conversational actions rather than between propositions of clauses; the German concessive conjunction obwohl ‘although’, for example, can be used as a repair device in spoken conversation in order to revise a prior “speech act”[1] [2] (Gunthner 1999; see also Gunthner 2000b).

While adverbs, particles, conjunctions and discourse markers (cf. Schiffrin 1988; Gohl and Gunthner 1999; Auer and Gunthner 2005) are rather well-studied from a dialogical point of view, other uninflectable categories still need to be opened up as a field of study for a “theory of linguistic praxis” (Linell 2009b: 280) which takes the impact of dialogical language use on language structure into consideration. For instance, prepositions have not yet been analyzed as a word class with a dialogical bias. Hence, it is the objective of this study to show that prepositions can be analyzed as crucial discourse-structuring devices.

The example which will be taken here is the preposition mit ‘with’, which, apart from its canonical functions, can be used in spoken conversation to tie topically related stretches of talk together (see section 2). Since such instances of mit cannot be analyzed in terms of adding a certain context to one of the canonical types of mit, they represent a dialogical construction in its own right (see section 3).[3]

  • [1] This study arises from the project “Grammatik und Dialogizitat: Retraktive und projektiveKonstruktionen im interaktionalen Gebrauch” (head: Prof. Dr. Susanne Gunthner) supportedby the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). I would like tothank Susanne Gunthner, Wolfgang Imo, Henrike Helmer, and the participants of the conference“Grammar and Dialogism: Sequential, syntactic and prosodic patterns between emergence andsedimentation” (held June 13-15, 2012, at the University of Munster) for helpful comments andsuggestions. Thanks to Beate Weidner for an example from her data.
  • [2] I’m using the notion “speech act” in an informal way in this study and not in the restricted,technical and rather monological sense of Speech Act Theory (Searle 1969).
  • [3] This study is based on the analysis of 134 examples of mit from spoken talk-in-interactionwhich are taken from the “linguistischen Audio-Datenbank (lAuDa)” in Munster and the“Archiv fur gesprochenes Deutsch (AGD)” in Mannheim. The examples in this study are transcribedfollowing the “Gesprachsanalytisches Transkriptionssystem (Gat) 2” (Selting et al. 2009, Barth-Weingarten and Couper-Kuhlen 2011; see also section 5). The transcript lines always start with 1;relevant context information will be given in the text.
 
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