Between sound and speech: Liminal signs in interaction

Dingemanse, M. (2020). Between sound and speech: Liminal signs in interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 53(1), 188-196. doi:10.1080/08351813.2020.1712967.
When people talk, they recruit a wide range of expressive devices for interactional work, from sighs, sniffs, clicks, and whistles to other conduct that borders on the linguistic. These resources represent some of the more elusive yet no less powerful aspects of the interactional machinery as they are used in the management of turn and sequence and the marking of stance and affect. Phenomena long assumed to be beyond the purview of linguistic inquiry emerge as systematically deployed practices whose ambiguous degree of control and convention allows participants to carry out subtle interactional work without committing to specific words. While these resources have been characterised as non-lexical, non-verbal, or non-conventional, I propose they are unified in their liminality: they work well precisely because they equivocate between sound and speech. The empirical study of liminal signs shows the promise of sequential analysis for building a science of language on interactional foundations.
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