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Rethinking the Role of Invited Inferencing in Change from the Perspective of Interactional Texts

Elizabeth Closs Traugott
Published Online: 2018-05-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0002


The hypothesis that “invited inferences” are factors in change and challenges to it are reviewed. In light of recent work on historical construction grammar and interactional discourse analysis, I suggest that at least three types of inferences play a role in interactional contexts: local inferences associated with specific expressions; discourse structuring inferences pertaining to factors like coherence, backgrounding and foregrounding; and turn-taking inferences associated with turn relevant positions. A case study tests this suggestion: the development of discourse structuring uses of a family of Look expressions. Turn-taking has been regarded as a trigger in related changes. However, in this case not turn-taking, but rather a profile shift associated with non-use of complementizers is hypothesized to be a crucial enabling factor.

Keywords: discourse structuring markers; interactional discourse; language change; profile shifts; projectors; turn-taking; Look expressions


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About the article

Received: 2017-08-24

Accepted: 2018-02-16

Published Online: 2018-05-24

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 19–34, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2018-0002.

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© 2018 Elizabeth Closs Traugott, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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