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

Sub-project: Sequential and genre-specific organization of understanding

In this sub-project we analyze the display and organization of understanding ranging from elementary sequences to global interaction types. Sequential organization is the habitat of negotiating understanding. Consecutive actions such as answers or queries always display understanding, (non-)acceptance, explanation, and correction. The relevance and expectability of consecutive actions prove itself relevant particularly when they are missing, and are pursued, or when their absence leads to follow-up problems. We analyze how the production of understanding is incorporated into the sequentiality of interaction itself. We therefore focus on explicit verbal activities for establishing and maintaining coherence, and we analyze sequential patterns which are specialized for displaying, negotiating, and maintaining understanding e.g. repair sequences, refining sequences, and explanatory sequences. Furthermore, we ask for the implications of some features of sequential organization for the accomplishment of understanding such as the temporal proximity and succession of utterances, turn-taking, and the gestalt nature of sequential types. With respect to the efforts of understanding in more global interactive tasks, we study how participants display, and make clear, their broader orientation. Based on the sequential analyses, we look for verbal (and other) communicative practices of the participants to indicate their understanding of the situation in relation to relevant local activities. The data base for the sub-project contains authentic doctor-patient-interactions of different interactional types (such as anamnesis, diagnosis, therapy planning etc.). Due to their institutional context, these interactions reveal clear conversational structures, and they offer an opportunity to compare professional and everyday communication. contact: Prof. Dr. Thomas Spranz-Fogasy, spranz(at)