Project "Constitution of meaning in social interaction (interactional semantics)"

Understanding in interaction: Recipient design, common ground, and intersubjectivity

The accomplishment of intersubjectivity and understanding in interaction creates common ground. At the same time, recipient design is crucial: designing turns at talk so that they can be understood correctly requires taking into account shared knowledge and recipients’ stances and expectations. Thus, common ground is essential for the constitution of meaning and the accomplishment of intersubjectivity in interaction.

Our analysis focuses on two aspects of common ground and recipient design: We analyse (1) changes in recipient design of actions and utterances over time, based on the accumulation of common ground in shared interactional histories and (2) the role of social categorizations of the other as a resource for recipient design. The latter is particularly important when interactants cannot build upon a shared interactional history.

Presence or absence of common ground has an influence on linguistic choices in interaction. This interrelation is elucidated by analyzing how complexity vs. reduction of argument structures depend on joint attention, spatio-physical arrangements, the orientation to joint vs. individual projects, antecedent formulations and previous knowledge.


  • Deppermann, Arnulf (2015): Pragmatik revisited. In: Eichinger, Ludwig M. (ed.): Sprachwissenschaft im Fokus. Positionsbestimmungen und Perspektiven. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, pp. 323-352.
  • Deppermann, Arnulf / Schmitt, Reinhold (2009): "damit sie mich verstehen": Genese, Verfahren und recipient design einer narrativen Performance. In: Buss, Mareike/Habscheid, Stephan/Jautz, Sabine/Liedtke, Frank/Schneider, Jan-Georg (eds.): Theatralität des sprachlichen Handelns. München: Fink, pp. 79-112. PDF
  • Deppermann, Arnulf (2015): When recipient design fails: Egocentric turn-design of instructions in driving school lessons leading to breakdowns of intersubjectivity. In: Gesprächsforschung 16, pp. 63-101. PDF
  • Deppermann, Arnulf ( Changes in turn-design over interactional histories – the case of instructions in driving school lessons. In: Deppermann, Arnulf/Streeck, Jürgen (eds.): Modalities and temporalities: Convergences and divergences of bodily resources in interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Reineke, Silke (2016): Wissenszuschreibungen in der Interaktion. Eine gesprächsanalytische Untersuchung impliziter und expliziter Formen der Zuschreibung von Wissen. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • Zinken, Jörg / Deppermann, Arnulf (i. Dr.): A cline of visible commitment in the situated design of imperative turns. Evidence from German and Polish. In: Sorjonen, Marja-Leena / Raevaara, Liisa / Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth (eds.): Imperative Turns at Talk: The design of directives in action. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Arnulf Deppermann, deppermann(at); Dr. Silke Reineke, reineke(at)