Phatic expressions in French and German telephone conversations

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This article is based on a paper given at OID3 Conference referring to my PhD research about ‘phatic expressions’ in French and German (see Smith 2007). Starting with a tentative definition of ‘phatic expressions’ (PhEs) with reference to Jakobson (1960) and Malinowski (1923), I attempt to refine this definition through a mainly qualitative analysis of occurrences of French “hein” and German “ne(ich)” in telephone conversations. One major objective consists in developing a methodology drawing on the dialogical and oral character of the PhE as well as possible use-manifested cultural differences by combining ethnomethodological conversation analysis principles and methods, speech act and politeness theory, and basic notions of prosody.


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