Why blend conversation analysis with cognitive grammar?

Marja Etelämäki and Laura Visapää

Abstract

This article proposes that combining Conversation Analysis (CA) with Cognitive Grammar (CG) provides a fruitful framework for studying language as a socio-cognitive phenomenon. The authors first discuss two indexical phenomena, the Finnish demonstratives and the Finnish free-standing infinitives; these are first analyzed using the methods of CA, then rediscussed in the framework of CG. The description of both phenomena relies on the CG notion of grounding elements, i.e., the elements that conceptualize some facet of the ground (speech situation) as part of their meaning. The authors argue that such meaning associated with grammar includes knowledge about the schematic organization of the ground, and that the grammatical means for conceptualizing the ground make dynamic co-construction of the speech situation possible. Whereas the authors rely on the terminology of CG when describing the con-strual of the ground, they strongly underline the fact that the ways in which the ground is construed can only be found out using the methods of CA. In this way, combining CA with CG can offer us an approach where language is analyzed as the interface of the human mind and the social world.

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