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Reflexive language, reflexive actions: metapragmatics in institutional talk


18-20 mai 2016


Prof. Simona Pekarek Doehler UNINE, Prof. Marcel Burger UniL


Adam Jaworski, University of Hong Kong (China), Elisabeth Stokoe, Loughborough University (UK), Johannes Angermüller, University of Warwick (UK), Richard Fitzgerald, University of Macau, China, Anne-Claude Berthoud, University of Lausanne.


This doctoral seminar aims at providing a theoretical and methodological reflection on the reflexivity of social interaction in institutional settings, focusing on issues such as meta-language, meta-pragmatics and more generally indexicality. By locally defining contexts, indexing norms and normative expectations, displaying participants understanding of and stance toward each other and toward each other's actions, meta-utterances or meta-actions are of special interest to the analysis of naturally occurring institutional interactions. The "meta" level relates to the locally enacted definition and negotiation of participants' actions and mutual positioning. It puts into play (and reveals) the participants' knowledge (shared and not shared) as well as ways of accounting for the 'why', 'how', 'by whom', etc. of the ongoing interactions. The doctoral seminar aims at discussing the pragmatic, linguistic, sequential and embodied facets of these issues, based on analysis of empirical data taken from various institutional settings. The seminar is designed to bring together different perspectives on the topic. These may start from Jakobson's meta-lingual function (1960), Bateson's distinction between metalinguistic and meta-communicative messages (1972), and Lucy's work on reflexive language (1993), and/or draw on Garfinkel's (1967) conception of indexicality, and subsequent discussions of its implications e.g. on the notion of context, by Duranti & Goodwin (1972), or Antaki's (2008) and Bilmes' (2008) work on formulations. The seminar intends to cross perspectives on what we might generally call the meta-pragmatic dimension of communication that has been defined by pragmatists as being concerned with «the pragmatics of actually performed meta-utterances that serve as a means to commenting on and interfering with ongoing discourse or text» (Hübel & Bublitz 2007). The meta-pragmatic dimension addresses more specifically the way participants monitor, reflect on and account for the ongoing interaction and its local purposefulness. In this sense, the "meta" level represents both a central site for the analysis of the relation between agency and social structure, and a fundamental feature of that very relationship. The seminar will be of interest to any student and researcher that is concerned with the analysis of social interaction, and is interested in the fine-grained praxeological and linguistic dimensions of the 'meta'.


Conversation analysis, communication training and engaging non-academic audiences in the science of talk


Elisabeth Stokoe 


Abstract: In this talk, I will describe my work in conversation analysis in institutional and organizational contexts, including commercial, medical and legal settings. In particular, I will explain how research findings about what constitutes ‘effective’ communication between patients and doctors, salespeople and customers, and mediators and clients, underpin subsequent communication using CARM: the Conversation Analytic Role-play Method. I will set out the development of CARM, from a funded knowledge exchange project to an income-generating enterprise. I will consider the integrity of applied conversation analysis and CA as a designedly large scale qualitative method. The talk will also include some discussion of CA in relation ‘nudge’ theory, as well as to other forms of communication training, including role-play and simulation, and in developing guidance for communicative encounters. It will also consider CA in relation to external and endogenous metrics for establishing ‘effectiveness’.Finally, I will show how engaging the public about the science of talk can have big pay-offs for generating cultural, social and economic impacts.


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Art on television: Television as art


Adam Jaworski



Mediatization of contemporary art on television potentially faces a paradox of balancing between elitist and egalitarian stances: an elite subject matter is broadcast for consumption by a mass audience. This chapter aims to demonstrate how this tension has been addressed in the PBS TV art documentary programme Art in the Twenty-first Century. The programme’s section introductions have been created by individually commissioned artists as self-parodic performance art pieces drawing on their distinctive art styles. The artists/hosts of the opening sequences create their personas as ordinary and engaged with the viewer. For a knowing audience to appreciate the intertextuality of the opening sequences positions them as elite art aficionados. The self-knowing performances by the artists/hosts and the intertextual awareness needed to fully appreciate their irony and humour by the viewing audience are key meta-discursive aspects for creating involvement. On the other hand, making the introductions accessible to a less knowing audience has a democratising effect.



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  The « meta » all shook up


Anne-Claude Berthoud    


This contribution aims at providing a large panorama of metalinguistic activities, with regard to levels, functions, categories (types) and meanings. The importance of the metalexical level in communication will be questioned in comparison with the different levels of metalinguistic activities. These latter, in terms of their functions, are considered as communicative and learning processes. The issue that is raised is what quantity and type of « meta » are required to have an impact on communication and language learning? Actually, the degrees of importance of this question largely depend on the analytical framework. Furthermore, in both processes – communication and language learning - an important gap between metalinguistic activities and metalinguistic discourse can be identified, since discourse acts as a theorisation of metalinguistic activities. With respect to categories, metalinguistic activities can be viewed on a large continuum, going from epilinguistic to explicit models of linguistic theory, implying different meanings of grammatical activities. As a matter of fact, reflexion, conceptualisation and theorisation require different degrees of « meta ». It is, therefore, important to take into account these two meanings of « reflexive actions »: reflexion and reflexivity. The first one refers to the speaker’s control of his language activity, while the second one concerns the speech act itself. Considering that reflexivity is related to indexicality and opacity, a reflexion on reflexivity constitutes a condition to have a better access to transparency, hence to meaning. Accordingly, a hierarchical order can be identified while emerging from interactions between metalinguistic activities. However, « meta – meta » activities can also lead to paradoxes. Reflexion on what we can call “common sense representations” (epilinguistic activities), with the aim of making them change, can produce their stigmatisation. Examples of such paradoxical processes will be presented so as to illustrate the complexity of metalinguistic activities in communication.


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How to become a researcher? Academic discourse as a polyphonic positioning practice


Johannes Angermüller


When researchers use language, their objective is commonly to discuss concepts, ideas, theories. Yet when they talk and write, they also participate in a discourse about themselves, whose social effects they rarely control. Against a background in enunciative pragmatics and praxeological approaches to discourse, I will look into academic research as a discursive positioning practice of researchers. By drawing from first results of my ERC DISCONEX project on researchers in linguistics and sociology, I will address the question of how researchers deal with polyphonic nature of discourse, i.e. the fact that they always take about themselves as well as about others. I will place special emphasis on the unintentional effects of discursive dynamics among members of academic communities, namely the unequal distribution of recognition and the construction of academic hierarchies.


Leysin, La Tour d'Aï



Délai d'inscription 30.04.2016
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