On the place of turn and sequence in grammar: Verb-first clausal constructions in Swedish talk-in-interaction

Jan K. Lindström


This study elaborates the concept of a positionally sensitive grammar with respect to the sequentiality of turns and the turn constructional units in conversation. The linguistic object of the analysis is clausal constructions in Swedish that are initiated by the finite predicate verb: Polar questions, receipt questions (news receipts), conditional protases and pro-drop declaratives. These constructions share potentially the same syntactic surface pattern but are constrained by different sequential conditions of use. The study proposes an integrated interactional linguistic analysis which takes into account both syntactic and sequential aspects of turn construction. A grammatical attribute-value matrix, based on the framework of construction grammar (CxG), is introduced. The analysis shows that regularities of sequential organization may provide robust distinctive constructional features while a pure syntactic analysis remains less distinctive. The decisive constructional features are systematically captured by a notation designed for sequential and syntactic organization.

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