The Contributions of Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics to a Usage-Based Understanding of Language: Expanding the Transdisciplinary Framework

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Abstract

A key insight of a transdisciplinary perspective on second language acquisition (SLA) as articulated by the Douglas Fir Group (2016) is its usage-based understanding of language. Evidence on the fundamental role that usage plays in shaping individual language knowledge is no doubt compelling. However, while the force of social interaction in shaping language knowledge is acknowledged, missing are specifications of the jointly constructed actions and courses of action comprising social contexts of use. Also missing is a reconsideration of key SLA concepts engendered by a usage-based understanding of language. The intent of this paper is to redress these limitations. First, I summarize the research programs of conversation analysis and interactional linguistics, which take as their central task the specifications of the jointly constructed actions and courses of action comprising social contexts and thus significantly enhance a usage-based understanding of language. Then, arguing that more suitable conceptual tools are needed to better capture current understandings of language knowledge and objects of L2 learning, I offer repertoire, semiotic resources, and register as alternative terms to competence and grammar. I conclude with a proposal for a Conversation Analysis/Interactional Linguistics-based research program for further advancing understandings of SLA and transforming understandings of L2 pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-94
Number of pages15
JournalModern Language Journal
Volume103
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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