FACHBEREICH 7: Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

Institut für Romanistik und Latinistik

Navigation und Suche der Universität Osnabrück

International visitors




Requests for action in interaction and language change

Full title: "Requests for action in interaction and language change. Resources for mobilizing linguistic and bodily actions at the interface of grammar and pragmatics."

German title: "Handlungsaufforderungen in sprachlicher Interaktion und im Sprachwandel. Ressourcen zur Mobilisierung von sprachlichem und körperlichem Handeln an der Schnittstelle von Grammatik und Pragmatik.“

This project is being realized within the Heisenberg programme (DFG) The funding is awarded for 3 (+2) years, starting 04/2022.

From a linguistic perspective, the project investigates requests for action in Spanish. ‘Requests for action’ are generally understood as actions that aim to mobilize a co-participant to perform a corresponding action. Certainly, requests for action (also known as ‘directives’ or ‘exercitives’) are already a central topic in classical pragmatic approaches, especially speech act theory. Nonetheless, they are currently experiencing renewed interest within recent pragma-linguistic approaches (Floyd et al. 2020; Sorjonen et al. 2017). In these new approaches, the concept of 'mobilization' of actions (cf. also Stivers/Rossano 2010; Taleghani-Nikazm et al. 2020) figures prominently, emphasizing, among other things, the relevance of corporeality, temporality, and context for the analysis of linguistic and non-linguistic prompting actions. Furthermore, these studies assume that speakers have a wide range of action-mobilizing resources that exhibit different functional potentials and are therefore used in specific contexts. It is of particular interest to investigate how this spectrum is realized in different languages. For Spanish, however, hardly any work has been done in this respect so far. The present research project addresses this topic and chooses two complementary methodological approaches. Firstly, within the synchronic perspective of interactional linguistics, detailed multimodal analyses of request formats are carried out on the basis of video corpora. Secondly, the project analyzes the diachronic change of a subnetwork of imperative constructions from a micro-diachronic perspective.


  • Floyd, Simeon/Rossi, Giovanni/Enfield, Nick J. (Hgg.) (2020): Getting others to do things: A pragmatic typology of recruitments, Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Sorjonen, Marja-Leena/Raevaara, Liisa/Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth (Hgg.) (2017): Imperative Turns at Talk. The design of directives in action, Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Stivers, Tanya/Rossano, Federico (2010): „Mobilizing Response“, Research on Language and Social Interaction 43 (1), 3–31.
  • Taleghani-Nikazm, Carmen/Betz, Emma/Golato, Peter (Hgg.) (2020): Moblizing Others: Grammar and Lexis within Larger Activities, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Knowledge and instructions in interaction

An important aspect of everyday and professional interaction concerns the transmission and construction of knowledge between experts and laypersons, and more generally between interactants with different levels of knowledge. In my research I focus on the linguistic devices and social practices that participants use to transmit knowledge, using a multimodal methodology.

The instruction of corporeal or 'practical' knowledge is the subject of the project: Body knowledge. Multimodal practices for instructing corporeal-performative knowledge in interaction (supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg and the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg). Visit the separate Web site.

Previous work:

  • Conference section: "Wissen im Gespräch: Herstellung, Bearbeitung, Vermittlung" (see Activities)
  • Research School: "How do we know? Gesprächsanalytische Methoden zur Analyse von Wissen in der Interaktion" (see Activities)
  • Conference section: "Die kommunikative Konstruktion von Wissen" (see Activities )
  • Edited volume: "Veranschaulichungsverfahren im Gespräch" (see Publications )

Pragmatic particles

Pragmatic particles or discourse markers are interesting not only because of their broad range of functions but also because of their diachronic development.

Currently I am working on question tags in Spanish and French as a member of the DFG research network "Interactional Linguistics – Discourse particles from a cross-linguistic perspective". For more information, visit the separate web site and ResearchGate.

Previous work:

Inferences in interaction and language change

Not only are inferences considered to be one of the driving factors in language change, but they are also of central importance in the constitution of meaning in social interaction or, more generally, pragmatics. I am interested in the linguistic devices that participants use to deal with inferences, e.g. grammatical structures used to make an inference explicit, markers to index an inference and 'designedly' incomplete utterances that leave completion semantically and pragmatically open for the interlocutors to 'infer'. From a synchronic perspective, I analyze the use of such devices in their situated sequential context, and, from a diachronic perspective, I focus on the formal and functional development of such devices.

Previous work:

  • Article: "When ‘questions’ are not questions" (see Publications)
  • Special Issue: "Inferences in Interaction and Language Change" (see Publications)
  • International symposium: "Inferences in Interaction and Language Change" (see Activities)
  • Habilitation on "macro constructions" (see Publications)

Emergent memory

Remembering and storytelling constitute an important activity in social life since they serve to accomplish basic functions like the transmission of knowledge, the negotiation of perspectives on the social world, and the construction of identity and togetherness. A central device for staging and performing a narration is the multimodal animation of figures ('quotation' / 'reported speech') or, more generally speaking, multimodal polyphony.

I am currently working on multimodal polyphony and syntactic structures employed in narrations as an associated member of the DFG/SNF project "Emergent Memory. Fragmented Syntax and Textual Construction in Contemporary Literature and Oral History" (funded by German and Swiss Science Foundations, DFG and SNF). For more information, visit the separate project web site, DFG web site or ResearchGate.

Previous work: