Language as Action - LAN00064H

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kobin Kendrick
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2017-18

Module summary

What do we do with language? When we use language we perform actions in the world. We ask questions, report good news and bad, complain and compliment, agree and disagree, express our surprise, disbelief, and disgust, request assistance and offer it, among a multitude of other everyday acts. In this module, students will explore the topic of language as action both theoretically and empirically. Students will learn how speakers use linguistic resources (e.g., syntactic constructions) to form actions and how the interactional context facilitates their recognition. Students will read and discuss journal articles on linguistic actions (e.g., offers and requests) and will learn to apply methods for the analysis of language and action, using data from naturally-occurring conversation.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

What do we do with language? When we use language we perform actions in the world. We ask questions, report good news and bad, complain and compliment, agree and disagree, express our surprise, disbelief, and disgust, request assistance and offer it, among a multitude of other everyday acts. In this module, students will explore the topic of language as action both theoretically and empirically. Students will learn how speakers use linguistic resources (e.g., syntactic constructions) to form actions and how the interactional context facilitates their recognition. Students will read and discuss journal articles on linguistic actions (e.g., offers and requests) and will learn to apply methods for the analysis of language and action, using data from naturally-occurring conversation.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this you will be able to

  • analyze the grammatical structure of utterances in conversational data;
  • use contemporary methods in interactional analysis to analyze linguistic actions;
  • work with datasets of actions drawn from conversation; and
  • read, understand, and discuss academic journal articles.

At the end of this you will know

  • the theoretical questions that motivate research on language as action;
  • the historical development of research on action in linguistics; and
  • how linguistic form and interactional context contribute to the recognizability of
  • linguistic actions.

Module content

Lectures

  • Foundations of research on language as action (e.g., speech act theory, conversation analysis)
  • Language as a resource for action formation (e.g., sentence types, social action formats: assessments, offers)
  • Interactional context as a resource for action recognition (e.g., sequential position)
  • Action type case studies: offers, requests, assessments, invitations, etc.

Seminars

  • Tutorials on how to read academic journal articles and CA transcripts
  • Guided discussions of journal articles
  • Exercises on linguistic analysis of utterances (e.g., sentence types, social action formats) and action type analysis of utterances (e.g., using the next turn proof procedure)

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be provided in class and individual meetings. Students will have to submit a 500-word essay proposal on which individual feedback will be provided.

Indicative reading

Students will read one journal article or book chapter per week. For key articles, students will be given reading guides and will discuss the contents of the articles in seminars. Examples of key articles are given below.


Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2014). What does grammar tell us about action? Pragmatics, 24(3), 623–647.
Curl, T. S. (2006). Offers of assistance: Constraints on syntactic design. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(8), 1257–1280.
Levinson, S. C. (2013). Action formation and ascription. In J. Sidnell & T. Stivers (Eds.), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis (pp. 101–130). Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.