Project "Verbal and communicative displays of understanding in talk-in-interaction"

Sub-project: Linguistic constructions of understanding in interaction

Participants in interaction display with various communicative practices
  • how they understand their interlocutors' contributions,
  • how they assume to have been understood by their interlocutors,
  • how they intend to be understood by their interlocutors.
Issues of understanding in interaction are dealt with in a variety of ways: A certain kind of understanding can be explicitly ascribed, rejected or problematized. Participants formulate conclusions and hypotheses on understanding. They offer explications, reformulations and specifications for better understanding. Communicative problems are explained by "misunderstandings". And they indicate that interaction is based on common knowledge and shared presuppositions. This sub-project investigates the specific verbal resources these communicative practices make use of in German. Among them are, for instance, constructions with mental and communicative verbs (meinen 'to mean', verstehen 'to understand', auf etwas hinauswollen 'to aim at sth.'), collaborative completions (A: I have to finish this job today. - B: Because our boss will be back tomorrow.), modal constructions (das ist ja wohl nicht wahr 'that can't be true', was hat er denn gesagt 'what did he say, though?, discourse particles (hm 'm-hm', ja 'yeah', jaja 'yes, I will'), and various formats of reformulation, e.g., using connectives reformulations (A: das belastet mich auch noch. - B: also die Angst um den Partner). This project describes the linguistic constructions and interactive, sequential forms of organization of the various practices and investigates their communicative habitats. It studies their functions for understanding in talk-in-interaction and, at the same time, it seeks to identify interactional tasks that go beyond this, such as arguing, persuading, criticizing and negotiating relationships between participants. In terms of methods and theoretical background, this project employs concepts of construction grammar and Conversation Analysis. contact: Prof. Dr. Arnulf Deppermann, deppermann(at), Henrike Helmer, helmer(at), Stefanie Krause, stefanie.krause(at), Silke Reineke, reineke(at)