"What do you mean?": The interactional achievement of meanings in everyday talk
Embargoed until: 2019-02-05
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The meanings of words are very often under-specified when used in talk-in-interaction. Meanings may be negotiated in interaction, particularly when one or more parties express uncertainty or disagreement about their own and each other’s knowledge of the object in question. This study looks at sequential environments in which participants are engaged in the co-construction or negotiation of meaning in everyday talk. The aim of this dissertation is to unpack the pragmatic processes that underpin the interactional accomplishment of meaning-in-interaction, and how contingently-relevant trajectories of social actions in sequences of talk are accomplished through particular formats, function and recurrent sequential practices. It specifically analyses how the use of recurrent syntactic frames by participants generates dialogic resonance. The granularity of the meanings co-constructed in-situ are determined by the participants through tying contextually relevant features to the word(s) in question using these recurrent frames. The data analysed are drawn from recordings of 35 interactions of Australian English speakers in everyday social settings. Methodologically, it recognises the need to draw on insights from various analytic methods and approaches, including interactional pragmatics, membership categorisation analysis, and dialogic syntax, in order to enable detailed examination of the locally-situated accomplishment of meaning in interaction. The analysis demonstrates the complex interactional practices participants draw on in co-constructing locally-situated meaning. The primary goal of this dissertation is to pinpoint the specific strategies and processes enacted through the use of recurrent syntactic frames, as they are involved in understanding how sequences involving the interactional accomplishment of locally-situated meanings are initiated and negotiated. These interactional practices are related to a number of dimensions of talk, including: context of the talk, type of word or formulation being attributed meaning, properties of the referent or semantic object and the broader relevance within the situated action. It intends to provide an original contribution to the emerging body of research in the field of occasioned/interactional semantics and interactional pragmatics more broadly. It proposes a hybrid approach to understanding meaning in interaction that is complementary to existing approaches, by closely inspecting and then explicating the various interactional practices used by participants to initiate and co-construct locally-contingent meaning(s) in interaction. Overall, it provides a deeper understanding of the role of context and pragmatic processes as they impinge on the locally-situated nature of the co-construction of meaning-in-interaction.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Hum, Lang & Soc Science
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Context of the talk