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By Eric H. Lenneberg


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We propose that the approach we have taken, using action-based descriptions, grounded in the particulars of sequential locations, captures as much generalization as . Goodwin and Goodwin (1987) cite earlier work, in particular that of Ochs and ­Schieffelin (1983), who also eschew a static linguistic-unit characterization (“left-dislocation”) in favor of a functionally relevant information-flow account whereby a speaker is characterized as moving from referent introduction to the formation of a proposition about the referent.

A fuller analysis of Maureen’s turn could be given here. However, what is essential for our purpose is that we have experimented with an action-based alternative to linguistic unit-based accounts for both turn construction and the ­coordination of speaker and recipient visual and vocal conduct. Maureen has constructed u ­ nfolding trajectories of conduct that encompass bodies, space, time, and talk. As these simultaneous and mutually contextualizing trajectories of conduct emerge, her recipients can and do co-participate.

Units and/or Action Trajectories? 17,18 Even after what some might argue constitutes the completion of a projectable, abstract grammatical TCU, at the point where rising intonation and sound stretch accompany the delivery of ya:ng there is no attempt at turn transition and no visible or hearable orientation to its absence as accountable or problematic. On the contrary, it is not until the possible completion of te:n that a recipient initiates a spoken response, with no gap or overlap. Maureen is looking at a drawing on the wall labeled ‘The Café de Yin Yang’, drawn by the young nephew of one of the other participants: (4) Maureen: the café de yin ya:ng?

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Biological Foundations of Language by Eric H. Lenneberg

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