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LINGUIST List 23.151

Mon Jan 09 2012

Diss: Cog Sci/Semantics: Zima: 'Cognition in Interaction - A ...'

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        1.     Elisabeth Zima , Cognition in Interaction - A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach to Dialogic Meaning Constitution in Austrian Parliamentary Debates


Message 1: Cognition in Interaction - A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach to Dialogic Meaning Constitution in Austrian Parliamentary Debates
Date: 03-Jan-2012
From: Elisabeth Zima <elisabeth.zimagmail.com>
Subject: Cognition in Interaction - A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach to Dialogic Meaning Constitution in Austrian Parliamentary Debates
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Institution: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Program: Doctoral School of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Elisabeth Zima

Dissertation Title: Cognition in Interaction - A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach
to Dialogic Meaning Constitution in Austrian Parliamentary
Debates

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
Discourse Analysis
Semantics

Subject Language(s): German (deu)


Dissertation Director(s):
Paul Sambre
Kurt Feyaerts

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the cognitive mechanisms of intersubjective meaning constitution in face-to-face interaction and monological speeches. The study is mainly situated within Cognitive Linguistics but specifically aims at broadening its scope by integrating insights from Interactional Linguistics and Conversation Analysis.

The empirical part of the dissertation consists of two case studies. In the first case study, we are concerned with meaning constitution in direct dialogic interaction in the Austrian Parliament. Our data consists of sequences where hecklers from the floor pick up and reuse words, morphemes, constructions, etc. of plenary speakers. This interactional phenomenon of 'resonance' has recently received attention within John W. Du Bois' model of 'dialogic syntax' (2001, 2007, in prep.). In our study, we zoom in on instances of resonance where meanings are exploited and changed across turns in order to trump the interlocutor: e.g. Plenary speaker: 'Only very short-sighted politicians would deny its benefits.' Heckler: 'Then maybe one should buy MP Cap a pair of glasses!'. We studied these instances of what we call 'creative resonance' from three different angles:

1) a typological angle, exploring types and linguistic levels of resonance (explicit parallelism vs. implicit uptake; syntactic, lexical, morphological, phonological, cross-modal resonance);
2) from the perspective of Langackerian Cognitive Grammar, zooming in on the interaction between resonance and construal mechanisms like subjectification/objectification, viewpoint, figure-ground alignment, and granularity;
3) from the perspective of Construction Grammar, modeling resonance as involving the joint set up of 'ad hoc constructions'.

In the second case study, we change our perspective on intersubjective meaning constitution. Our primary concern with intersubjectivity in this case study is the way plenary speakers adjust their linguistic and multimodal behavior to their audience(s). Drawing on the sociolinguistic concept of 'recipient design' (Sacks/Schegloff/Jefferson 1974) as well as Cognitive Linguistic models of intersubjectivity (Tomasello 1999, Verhagen 2005), we provide an in depth, multimodal analysis of the video recordings of 10 speeches (5 televised/ 5 non-televised). The results suggest that non-televised debates only involve 'inner-group intersubjectivity', i.e. speakers design their speeches for their audience in Plenary Hall, not considering the public as a direct addressee. Televised speeches, however, involve the simultaneous management of 'inner-' and 'outer-group intersubjectivity' as the public is inherently co-addressed which results in a very different recipient design on various linguistic and multimodal levels.

By explicitly trying to apply some key concepts of Cognitive Linguistics (construal mechanisms, constructions, intersubjectivity) to interactional meaning constitution, the dissertation, we hope, is of interest to both cognitively-oriented scholars as well as interactional linguists. The two case studies also provide new insights into the phenomenon of heckling, interaction, and participation roles in parliamentary debates and may be interesting for political discourse researchers as well.

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