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The scientific network „Interactional Linguistics“ examines particular types of discourse particles – that is, words (and fixed phrases that behave similarly) that are used to organize, maintain, or regulate interaction between speaker and recipient – from a comparative-linguistic perspective. We will focus on question tags (e.g. isn’t it?), response particles (which provide answers to questions, e.g. yes or exactly), and repair markers (e.g. uh or no) in a set of typologically diverse languages, namely, the spoken variants of Czech, English, Finnish, French, Low and Standard German, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, and Yurakaré.The network takes the communicative tasks of questioning, responding, and initiating repair as a starting point. As these tasks prove to be similar across speech communities, and must be accomplished regularly by interlocutors, our focus on particles as specific linguistic means for performing these tasks provides ideal grounds for identifying potentially generic linguistic resources of human social interaction, and for exploring the extent of possible language-specific variation. More specifically, our aim is to explore

  1.  the array of particles the different languages provide for these communicative tasks, and the different functions these particles have in each of the languages studied,
  2. whether there are recurrent particles that are used cross-linguistically for these tasks, e.g. phonetic variants of huh as question tags, of hm as response particles, or of uh as repair markers, and
  3. the relationships between the three different types of particles.

On the one hand, question tags and response particles occur within the same sequential environment (question-response sequences), which allows for the investigation of possible co-occurrences of certain question tags and response particles across languages. On the other hand, comparing all three types of particles in each language, we will be able to explore relationships between them, e.g. regarding the existence of polyfunctional particles in the two different conversational systems, that is, sequence organization (question tags, response particles) and the repair system (repair markers). Through this approach, we hope to gain insights into how these types of discourse particles are organized across languages, and how they are used for accomplishing certain generic interactional tasks.

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