Grammar and Interaction

Pivots in German conversation

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This monograph provides a micro-analytic description of the structure and communicative use of syntactic pivot constructions in German. Using the methodology of Conversation Analysis, this work shows that pivots emerge in interaction in response to local communicative needs.Exclusively found in spoken German, pivots allow a speaker to extend an utterance beyond a possible completion point in a syntactically and prosodically unobtrusive way. Speakers utilize this basic property to promote context-specific actions: managing boundaries of speakership, bridging sequential and topical junctures, and dealing with different types of interactional trouble.<br />Through a close examination of syntactic pivots as an interactional resource, this work shows that spoken linguistic structures can only be fully understood if we acknowledge the temporality of language and view grammar as usage-based and negotiable. This book thus contributes to a growing body of research at the intersection of grammar and interaction.

Subjects: Syntax; Pragmatics; Theoretical linguistics; Germanic linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: Kansas State University

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