Linguistik online 5, 1/00

Editors' note

Anita Fetzer & Karin Pittner

Deutsche Version dieser Seite

Conversation analysis is an important part of ethnomethodology and thus firmly anchored to the field of microsociology. For this reason, investigations are based on context-independent, empirical concepts which are analysed with regard to their context-sensitive employment in different sociocultural contexts and settings, such as news interviews, political interviews, educational discourse, police interrogations, professional discourse and media communication. Conversation analysis does not investigate language in isolation but focuses on language use by explicitly accounting for the relationships between language use & social action, social agent(s) & linguistic performance, and social action & social contexts. In the German-speaking research paradigm, it is also referred to as discourse analysis and dialogue analysis. Here, conversation analysis is allocated to the fields of pragmatics, sociopragmatics and sociolinguistics. Due to its strong social orientation, it is ascribed to the research paradigms of sociology and anthropology in the Anglo-American context.

The basic unit of investigation in conversation analysis is represented by discourse which is seen as fundamental to society. Conversations are analysed with regard to the employment of the turn-taking system as well as with regard to the constitutive microelements of adjacency pair, preference organization, interruption, repair and interactional role. On the discourse level, they are analysed with regard to opening, closing and topical-organization sections. While the more conservative branch of conversation analysis focuses on the interactional organization of discourse, such as interactional roles, turn taking and turn construction, more recent trends do not only investigate the interactional organization of discourse but also discursive presuppositions, social cognition and sociocultural competence. Moreover, there have been numerous investigations analysing the interdependence between the interactional organization of discourse and discursive presuppositions in the frameworks of discourse-specific presuppositions and social cognition. In these more recent developments language is no longer interpreted as a semiotic system and thus as a surface phenomenon manifest in the interactional organization of social situations. Instead, it is interpreted as a cognitive system where discursive presuppositions, participants’ intentions and communicative intentions as well as the corresponding inferencing processes play a very important part.

The contributions of this special issue of Linguistik online fall into four parts: intercultural communication, gender studies, applied discourse analysis and the interface of syntax and pragmatics.

Christiane Meierkord (Erfurt / Germany) examines the phenomenon of lingua- franca learner language in her contribution "Interpreting successful lingua-franca interaction. An analysis of non-native / non-native small talk conversation in English". She compares and contrasts the traditional concept of turn taking and the Japanese concept wadan and exemplifies lingua-franca-sensitive employment of the turn-taking system in a micro analysis.

Katarina Mikova (Banská Bystrica / Slovakia) investigates the relationship between language and linguistic performance in her contribution "Managers in German lessons and students in organizations". She focuses on institution-specific communicative strategies, such as requests in intercultural settings (German / Slowakian), and explicitly accounts for the impact of knowledge, experience and reasoning on linguistic performance.

Ingrid Piller (Hamburg / Germany) analyses the phenomenon of bilingual communication in her contribution "Language choice in bilingual, cross-cultural interpersonal communication." Her research is carried out in the framework of conversation analysis and special reference is given to the social constructions of intercultural and interpersonal communication. Her results show that bilingual speakers use their languages strategically to project different identities.

Anita Fetzer (Stuttgart / Germany) discusses the interdependence of the linguistic representation of the social constructs of gender and profession in German. Her investigation of "'Actually, I was not really a woman for them': the linguistic representantion of gender" is set in a sociopragmatic frame of reference where gender and profession are assigned the status of plus/minus-validity claims. As any other validity claim, they require ratification in interaction.

Peter Kunsmann (Berlin / Germany) investigates the interdependence of social status and gender in his research on "Gender, status and power in discourse behavior of men and women." He reviews the relevant literature with regard to this question and comes to the conclusion that it is not just a question of gender or social status, but a question of both gender and social status.

Anita Fetzer (Stuttgart / Germany) presents a micro and macro analysis of expert / non-expert institutional communication in her contribution "'What would i have to do if i want this to do that?': An interpersonal-oriented investigation of expert / non-expert communication." She exemplifies the corresponding frame of reference and shows that the linguistic representation of communicative intentions is not only based on the discourse topic but also on the sociolinguistic variables of social status and intimacy.

Dorothee Meer (Bochum / Germany) presents a conversation-analytic investigation of the discourse genre viva. In her contribution "Applied discourse analysis: the discourse genre of viva" she exemplifies the linguistic performance of examiner and examinée with regard to institutional setting, communicative strategies and perlocutionary effects. She then discusses how this communicative encounter may be changed in order to avoid stress and conflicting communicative goals.

Ulrich A. Schmidt (Bochum / Germany) investigates job applications and job interviews in a discursive frame of reference. In his contribution Job application and job interview in a discursive frame of reference: some preliminary remarks on a neglected research paradigm of linguistics, job applications are interpreted as language games. They are analysed from intralingual and extralingual viewpoints and systematized in a dialogue frame of reference. He then argues for the classification of job applications as flirting encounters and not as examination encounters by making explicit the relevant moves.

Karin Pittner (Bochum / Germany) discusses the interface of grammar and pragmatics in her contribution "Speech act conditions and conditional speech acts: Pragmatic conditional sentences in German." Her micro analysis illustrates that pragmatic conditional sentences are multifunctional, i.e. they structure discourse, assign coherence, modify illocutions and indexically comment on the appropriateness of the linguistic representation and interpersonal relationship. For this reason, she argues for extending the frame of investigation to discourse in order to accommodate these discursive functions. Special attention is paid to the possible positions of these sentences which varies according to their functions. functions.