This special issue reports on a cross-linguistic study of other-initiated repair, a domain at the crossroads
of language, mind, and social life. Other-initiated repair is part of a system of practices that people use to deal with
problems of speaking, hearing and understanding. The contributions in this special issue describe the linguistic
resources and interactional practices associated with other-initiated repair in ten different languages. Here we
provide an overview of the research methods and the conceptual framework. The empirical base for the project
consists of corpora of naturally occurring conversations, collected in fieldsites around the world. Methodologically,
we combine qualitative analysis with a comparative-typological perspective, and we formulate principles for the
cross-linguistic comparison of conversational structures. A key move, of broad relevance to pragmatic typology, is
the recognition that formats for repair initiation form paradigm-like systems that are ultimately language-specific,
and that comparison is best done at the level of the constitutive properties of these formats. These properties can be
functional (concerning aspects of linguistic formatting) as well as sequential (concerning aspects of the interactional
environment). We show how functional and sequential aspects of conversational structure can capture patterns of
commonality and diversity in conversational structures within and across languages.
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Open Linguistics is a new academic peer-reviewed journal covering all areas of linguistics. The objective of this journal is to foster free exchange of ideas and provide an appropriate platform for presenting, discussing and disseminating new concepts, current trends, theoretical developments and research findings related to a broad spectrum of topics: descriptive linguistics, theoretical linguistics and applied linguistics.