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Explicit efforts of interpersonal alignment in informal interaction: the importance of knowing and showing in Indonesian and Dutch

Thursday 21 March 2019
Sociolinguistics Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Participating in a conversation requires careful management of both the content discussed and the interpersonal relations between those involved. Generally speaking, interlocutors aim to construct and maintain a favorable relationship. In an effort to do so, they coordinate and negotiate their mutual knowledge and stance regarding the topic of talk. This talk focuses on efforts to explicit connect one’s personal stance to someone else’s stance, thus establishing interpersonal alignment. I argue this type of interactional moves present an important source of information when it comes to (norms about) managing interpersonal relationships. As illustrated in the example below, explicit efforts of interpersonal alignment involve some speaker taking stance (here: Ruben) and another participant (Hugo) taking that same position.

(26) “Super Grover” (BB-NL, 20-1)

59        Ruben        ik vond Super Grover ook altijd wel leuk
I always liked Super Grover as well
60        Hugo        
  ja ik ook
yes me too

Starting from the idea of a stance triangle (DuBois 2007), Ruben is the first subject to present his stance towards the object of talk, in this case a Sesame Street character called Super Grover. Hugo, as the second subject, subsequently presents his stance towards Super Grover and Ruben’s earlier position. He draws a clear connection between their two stances by means of the phrase “me too”. Instead of presenting a full sentence, he simply seconds what Ruben said, adopting his stance as his own position. Here, their stances align: they take a similar position when it comes to Super Grover, they both like the character. In this talk, I discuss different ways of overtly connecting stances using Dutch and Indonesian conversational data. The observed cross-linguistic preferences suggest a stronger (normative) orientation toward explicitly negotiating stance and alignment in Dutch interaction.

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