Form ≠ Function: The independence of prosody and action

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This article argues for the importance of describing form independently of function, especially for prosodic and phonetic forms. Form and function are often conflated by language-in-interaction researchers when they give descriptive labels to the sound of talk (e.g., “upgraded” pitch, “continuing” intonation), and that tempts researchers to see a given form as having a given function or practice—often one that is influenced by the descriptive label. I argue that we should discipline ourselves to keeping to a purely technical description of any form (practice); that will then make it possible unambiguously to show how that form contributes to a particular function (action), without presuming the relationship to be exclusive. Data are in American and British English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalResearch on Language and Social Interaction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014

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