Berlin Gesture Center | Interdisziplinäres BGC-Kolloquium


Three Lectures by Daniel C. O’Connell (Georgetown University):

1 Interjections and Fillers - 2 Laughter - 3 Spontaneous Spoken Discourse.

Freitag, 3. November 2006, 16 (!) bis 21 Uhr, Boltzmannstr. 3 (Raum 1105), 14195 Berlin (U-Bahnhof Thielplatz)

All three of the proposed lectures have as their theme a set of methodological problems associated with empirical investigations of the psychology of language use.Spontaneous spoken discourse has been at the periphery of research because it is difficult to investigate validly, reliably, and ethically in realistic settings. It has been characterized as error-filled, hesitant, and relatively chaotic. Interjections, fillers, and laughter share in this diagnosis of pathology. How to identify them, characterize them, describe their contributions to spontaneous spoken discourse, and apply a theory to them constitutes our task in these lectures.

Lecture One: Interjections and Fillers.
Interjections and fillers share many characteristics and are sharply distinguishable on many others. What entities are to be included as interjections and fillers depends on one’s definitions. Respectively they sub-serve many specific functions in spontaneous spoken discourse. But they are frequently omitted from transcripts because of their idiosyncratic usages. They throw light particularly on the temporal and sequential organization of spoken discourse.

Lecture Two: Laughter.
It has been the historical fate of laughter to have been identified with the humorous and comical, with both of which it has a very tenuous connection. Empirical analyses have been neglected until quite recently, and even now, some researchers acknowledge only the HA-HA sort and not laughter overlaid on spoken words. Nor are the complex rhetorical usages of laughter generally acknowledged in empirical research. Laughter turns out to be a rich addition to spontaneous spoken discourse.

Lecture Three: Spontaneous Spoken Discourse.
Scriptism, or the written language bias of research in the language sciences, has painted spontaneous spoken discourse rather as a leper than as the fundamental form of language usage across all natural languages. The use of real time, the presence of numerous particles (e.g., interjections and fillers), and the appropriateness of laughter to spontaneous spoken discourse are indicators of its richness, its linguistic orderliness, and its importance in everyday human interactions.