Comparing Language and Social Interaction

Authored by: David Boromisza-Habashi , Susana Martínez-Guillem

Handbook of Comparative Communication Research

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415802710
eBook ISBN: 9780203149102
Adobe ISBN: 9781136514241


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Put broadly, the central concern of language and social interaction scholars is how interlocutors make sense to one another by means of particular acts of communication in the context of observable, situated interaction. In his discussion of language and social interaction as subject matter Sanders (2005) writes: “That people succeed far more often than not in saying things that are coherent entails that they make them coherent by speaking in such a way, at such junctures, to and among such people, as to make their meaning recoverable” (p. 3). Interlocutors’ apparent success at communicating implies, language and social interaction scholars agree, that (1) they have a set of interactional resources (morphemes, syntactic structures, adjacency pairs, discursive forms, etc.) at their disposal that they can use to engage in observable interaction in meaningful ways; that (2) the meaning of a given interactional resource is constituted by its functionality in the specific moment of its use; that (3) the meaningful use of interactional resources has a systematic basis; and that (4) meaningful interaction requires the cooperation or joint action of all interlocutors involved in any interactional moment. It should be noted that language and social interaction scholars are equally interested in interlocutors’ successes and failures at achieving meaningful interaction.

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