Language as action

Maurice Nevile, Johanna Rendle-Short

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    The theme of this Special Issue, ‘language as action’, reflects the contributors’ interest in what, and how, people do things with language, and particularly spoken language. The papers here have in common a concern for investigating language-in-use in ordinary social life, and how language can both shape, and be shaped by, its use in particular social settings. More specifically, the papers share the interest of conversation analysis (CA) in the language of real-time naturally occurring interaction, for uncovering the practices and processes of reasoning by which participants create and make sense of what it is they are doing, of what is going on. Schegloff (1996, 2006) has argued that interaction is the primordial site of sociality, and is ‘the infrastructure for social institutions, the natural ecological niche for language, and the arena in which culture is enacted’ (Schegloff 2006: 70). CA examines the ordinary and situated taken-for-granted language competencies by which participants accomplish sociality. An interest in the place of language in social life can take many forms within sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, and such language might be theorised in many ways (Coupland, Sarangi and Candlin 2001). CA’s particular focus, reflected in the papers here, is to avoid theoretical descriptions and instead engage with the details of ‘language as action’ in participants’ own local (‘here-and-now’ or ‘there-and-then’) management of interaction as sequentially organised talk
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalAustralian Review of Applied Linguistics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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