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    Language in interaction

    Placencia, Maria Elena (2013) Language in interaction. In: Li, Wei (ed.) Applied Linguistics. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 91-111. ISBN 9781405193597.

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    Abstract

    This chapter explores some key topics within pragmatics. It starts with the notion of language as action encapsulated within speech act theory, one of the founding theories of the discipline, and moves on to considering the indeterminacy of utterances and the role that context plays in the production and understanding of language use. Some aspects of indirectness are then examined, including how it has been characterized, some of the motivations behind its use as well as situational and cross-linguistic variability in how it is used. How implied meanings are generated with reference to Grice’s CP and maxims is considered next as well as how these notions have been employed to shed light on cross-linguistic variability in particular contexts. It then examines how some scholars, building on Grice’s CP, went on to propose theories of politeness that attempted to account for the social motivations behind the use of indirectness and other strategies. It focuses on a number of issues that have come up in the study of (im)politeness phenomena and that have resulted in proposals for amending some of the seminal theories as well as in new theories that attempt to reflect the complex and dynamic nature of rapport management in interaction. In the final section, it looks at how conversation is coordinated by participants at various levels, stressing the notion of language as interaction rather than action alone. It also highlights the interest in the study of the organization of conversation / talk-in-interaction for understanding, for example, how particular communicative activities are constituted through talk.

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