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Our method

Our method is that of conversation analysis (CA). This means that we start with recordings of people talking together in the course of their regular daily lives. This is our Data. These are transcribed using a special CA transcript system, which as far as possible maintains the special features language has when it is used for conversation (see more in Precision and transcription).

From the study of our data we seek to deduct which Forms and structures exist in Danish talk-in-interaction, and which communicative Actions are being carried out by these forms and structures. When we have found an element worthy of study we examine it using two basic methods:

  1. We examine what the element occurs with (its distribution) and potentially what it can be replaced with (its paradigm). This often gives a pretty clear picture of whether or not the element has grammatical status or not, i.e whether it can be used to express meaning.
  2. We examine what the element “does”, i.e whether it performs a recognizable action. Here we naturally use our natural feeling of the language, but we also try to support and examine this be looking at how conversation participants react to it. In conversations people constantly have to respond to what have just been said and hereby show their understanding of its purpose. This means that in conversations we can study what comes right after our element and use it as evidence for which action the element performed.

At samtalegrammatik.dk this research ends up as an article on the element, in which we try to, in a short and pedagogical manner, describes which forms the elements take and which actions it can perform.


Further reading

Nielsen & Nielsen (2005) is a Danish book that introduces conversation analysis as a method. It is addressed to students and others who are interested.

Steensig (2010b) is a Danish article in a book addressed to students, which quickly instructs them how to do a CA analysis.