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Interactional Foundations of Language

The Interactional Foundations of Language project investigates language in its primordial context — face-to-face conversational interaction — the context in which it is first learned and predominantly used. Research in this project focuses on the basic infrastructure of social interaction: systems of turn-taking that organize opportunities to speak in conversation; mechanisms through which speakers identify and remedy troubles in speaking, hearing, or understanding such that intersubjectivity and mutual understanding can be achieved and maintained; and the linguistic practices and cognitive processes that underpin the construction and split-second recognition of speech acts in real-time interaction.

To investigate these interactional foundations of language, researchers employ a unique mix of methodologies, including linguistic description and typology, conversation analysis, ethnography, corpus linguistics, developmental studies and both behavioral and neurocognitive experimental psychology.

The IFL project is home to two ERC-funded research groups: Human Sociality and Systems of Language Use headed by Nick Enfield and INTERACT headed by Stephen C. Levinson.

Research coordinators:
Judith Holler
Kobin Kendrick

IFL projects:
Turn-taking and timing
Dialogue Project
Action formation and ascription
Other-initiated repair
Place reference

Last checked 2018-06-15 by Edith Sjoerdsma
Language and Cognition


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Stephen C. Levinson

Edith Sjoerdsma