Edited by Jürgen Streeck
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 196] 2010
► pp. 47–70
Humans often contextualize without using cues. While Gumperz showed that analysis is not sufficient to explain interaction, his view of what lay beyond symbols was based in cognitive internalism. Opposing this, prosody can be shown to contribute directly to conversational sense-making. Humans use self-organizing dynamics in ways that resemble what happens in gas-lasers. Voices attract each other and, at times, set off laser like synergies. Using these effects, we modulate our actions in situation-transcending events that give sense to the dynamics. Conversation is distributed cognition during which prosodic sense-making links the world with brains and bodies. Far from being based in word-forms, interaction and language are dynamical first and symbolic afterwards.
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