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Self and Other in Dialogue

Romance Studies on Discourse and Interaction

Edited By Johan Gille and Coco Norén

This volume contains a collection of papers which deal with Romance linguistics from the perspective of discourse and interaction. Some contributions cover areas such as spoken corpora, speech and linguistic description, and phonetic aspects of speech. Others focus on multimodality, pragmatics, and conversation and discourse, and there are also contributions which deal with speech and sociolinguistics, and speech in multilingualism/bilingualism. This volume is multilingual, containing as it does contributions written in English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

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Self-Other Interdependences in Dialogue (Per Linell)


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Per Linell

Self-Other Interdependences in Dialogue*

“The word is half someone else’s” (Bakhtin, 1981: 293)


Most theories of language use (or “languaging”) present the speaker as the only producer of utterances. Dialogist theories, by contrast, highlight the speaker’s interdependences with others, including the direct addressee but also peripheral or even absent “third parties”. This chapter explores these self-other interdependences at different levels of discourse. It ends up with the conclusion that we need a theory of utterance-building that is based on partially shared agency.

1.  Introduction

It is well-known that objectivity and subjectivity are the two conventional options for describing the world around us. We often talk about objective accounts versus subjective ideas of the world. For some, objectivity is a set of inherent properties in the world out there, whereas subjectivity refers to personal (and often idiosyncratic) apperceptions. There are counterparts of these notions in specific disciplines, for example, in linguistics. There the idea of an objective impersonal language system (e.g., that of Chomsky, 1965, 1995)1 has dominated the theorising. Individual speakers have been ascribed limited subjectivity, largely focused on references and word choices in utterance building (Linell, 2016a). However, neither in language sciences nor in general world views there have been any real competitors to the two basic conceptions.

By contrast, this article argues that intersubjectivity should occupy the central position in human studies. Specifically, it will point...

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