Chapter in:Building Categories in Interaction: Linguistic resources at work
Edited by Caterina Mauri, Ilaria Fiorentini and Eugenio Goria
[Studies in Language Companion Series 220] 2021
► pp. 188–210
Making the implicit explicit
Free enrichment in interaction
Semantic underdeterminacy in the form of unformulated syntactic slots is a widely-discussed research theme, even though opinions differ about whether the interpretation is a result of pragmatic processes of free enrichment (e.g., Carston 2004; Recanati 2002, 2004; Sperber & Wilson 1986/1995) or of obligatory processes of the linguistic structure (Stanley 2007). Using a conversation analytic approach, a corpus of narrative interviews can show that interlocutors use a wide range of turns to deal with these forms of semantic underdeterminacy. In narrative interviews, prototypically the communicative functions of these turns (e.g. repair, gaining time or developing the topic) are in relation to the accessibility of possible candidates within the given context. The empirical findings support the relevance theory account of free enrichment.
Keywords: semantic underdeterminacy, free enrichment, relevance theory, implicit-explicit communication, narrative interviews, retrospective utterance, communicative function, other-initiated repair, gaining time, developing the topic