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Lean syntax: how argument structure is adapted to its interactive, material, and temporal ecology

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 263
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It has often been argued that argument structure in spoken discourse is less complex than in written discourse. This paper argues that lean argument structure, in particular, argument omission, gives evidence of how the production and understanding of linguistic structures is adapted to the interactive, material, and temporal ecology of talk-in-interaction. It is shown how lean argument structure builds on participants’ ongoing bodily conduct, joint perceptual salience, joint attention, and their orientation to expectable next actions within a joint project. The phenomena discussed in this paper are verb-derived discourse markers and tags, analepsis in responsive actions, and ellipsis in first actions, such as requests and instructions. The study draws from transcripts and audio- and video-recordings of naturally occurring interaction in German from the Research and Teaching Corpus of Spoken German (FOLK).