Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Achieving Mutual Understanding? A Cross-linguistic Study of Other-Initiated Repair

A guest lecture by Dr. Mark Dingemanse from Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen.

Info about event

Time

Thursday 7 November 2013,  at 14:00 - 16:00

Location

Aarhus University, Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, building 1483, room 331

Organizer

Interacting Minds Centre

In conversation, people regularly have to deal with problems of speaking, hearing and understanding. I report on a cross-linguistic investigation of other-initiated repair (a.k.a. collaborative repair, requests for clarification, or grounding sequences) in ten languages from five continents. Different languages make available a wide but remarkably similar range of linguistic resources for this function — from a simple interjection like 'huh?', which may well be a universal word, to more complex formats like candidate understandings, which present hypotheses for (dis)confirmation. The patterned variation points to several underlying concerns addressed by repair initiation: locating trouble, managing responsibility, and handling knowledge. As ever-present concerns, they provide the main degrees fo freedom within which the linguistic variation in the domain of repair plays out, accounting for the cross-linguistic similarities we find. As alternative selection principles, they provide people in interaction with flexible means for achieving mutual understanding, handling the distribution of knowledge, and managing social relations.