Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Grammar of Topic Transition in American English Conversation. Topic Transition Design and Management in Typical and Atypical Conversations (Schizophrenia) Add Dissertation
Author: Marine Riou Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III, English Department
Completed in: 2015
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis; Phonology; Pragmatics; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Eric Corre
Elisabeth Delais-Roussarie

Abstract: The research presented in this dissertation analyzes topic transition in American English interaction, focusing on audio recordings of spontaneous conversations between friends and relatives. The main object of inquiry is the interactional action of transitioning to a new discourse topic, as well as the different linguistic strategies that participants have at their disposal. Three main types of cues are investigated: questions, discourse markers, and pitch register. Each type of cue is analyzed for its individual contribution to topic transition design, as well as for the way it can combine with, supplement, or contradict other cues. Analyzing different types of cues – verbal and prosodic – creates a composite picture of the various ways in which the topic trajectory of a conversation shapes its grammar – including its prosody. This study uses a mixed-methods approach which draws on the qualitative-oriented theoretical frameworks of Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics, combining them with quantitative methods used in Corpus Linguistics, such as systematic coding and statistics. This multi-domain account is completed by elaborating a comparison between typical and atypical interactions. Persons suffering from schizophrenia can experience difficulties in managing the topics of a conversation, and they can produce non-canonical transitions. Comparing their data with that of typical participants thus sheds light on some of the expectations, preferences and standard formats which can otherwise remain hidden when topic transition goes smoothly.