Sources of evidence for linguistic analysis

Round table discussion with Aaron Ecay (Unversity of York), Seth Mehl (University of Sheffield), Nick Zair (Univeristy of Cambridge), chaired by Cécile De Cat (University of Leeds)

Is linguistics an empirical science? How reliable are the data on which linguistic analyses and theories are based? These questions are not new, but in light of the disturbing findings of the Reproducibility Project in psychological sciences, the need to revisit them has become more pressing.  This round table discussion will start with presentations from three postdoctoral researchers, who will discuss the question of data collection and analysis and the interpretation of linguistic evidence.


This panel will be held on 11 November 2016 at 4.15pm in the Great Woodhouse Room, University House, University of Leeds, LS2 9JS.

For more information about the individual panelists’ presentations, see their abstracts below. The presentations have been live-tweeted under the hashtag . Continue reading “Sources of evidence for linguistic analysis”

‘Is that your coat on the floor?’ – Agency and autonomy in indirection

by Rebecca Clift (University of Essex)

Why might a parent say to a child ‘Is that your coat on the floor?’ as a means of getting them to pick it up, rather than using a directive, ‘Pick up your coat’?

Work on indirect utterances has focused exclusively on what the speaker is assumed to gain from indirectness. In contrast, this talk uses insights and data—both audio- and video-recorded—from Conversation Analysis (CA) to illuminate observable recipient conduct as a means of identifying the interactional motivations for a speaker to be indirect. Central to the analysis is the observation that recipients do work of various kinds to exert agency in response; to establish that what they are doing has a degree of autonomy, rather than being purely acquiescent in response to a prior turn. It turns out that linguistic mechanisms deployed in the pursuit of autonomy figure centrally in this empirically-grounded account of indirectness.

A video recording of the talk can be found below.

This paper was read at the Philological Society meeting in London (Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU, room G21A) on Friday, 14 October, 4.15pm.