Language and Cognition Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
 by Stephen C. Levinson

Interactional Foundations of Language (22 entries)

The Interactional Foundations of Language project investigates language in its primordial context — face-to-face conversational interaction — the context in which language is learnt, and predominantly used.

(10 entries)

Repair Sequences in Interaction

This sub-project is concerned with analysis and cross-linguistic comparison of the mechanisms of signaling and redressing ‘trouble’ during conversation. Speakers and listeners constantly face difficulties with many different aspects ofMore →

Social Action Formulation – A ’10-Minutes’ Task

Human actions in the social world – like greeting, requesting, complaining, accusing, asking, confirming, etc. – are recognised through the interpretation of signs. Language is where much of the actionMore →

Response Systems and Signals of Recipiency

Listeners’ signals of recipiency, such as “Mm-hm” or “uh-huh” in English, are the most elementary or minimal “conversational turns” possible. Minimal, because apart from acknowledging recipiency and inviting the speakerMore →

Metalanguage for Speech Acts

People of all cultures have some degree of concern with categorizing types of communicative social action. All languages have words with meanings like speak, say, talk, complain, curse, promise, accuse,More →

Multimodal Multiperson Interaction with Infants Aged 9 To 15 Months

Interaction, for all that it has an ethological base, is culturally constituted, and how new social members are enculturated into the interactional practices of the society is of critical interestMore →

Social Action Formulation – A ’10-Minutes’ Task

Human actions in the social world – like greeting, requesting, complaining, accusing, asking, confirming, etc. – are recognised through the interpretation of signs. Language is where much of the actionMore →

Landscape Terms and Place Names Elicitation Guide

Landscape terms reflect the relationship between geographic reality and human cognition. Are ‘mountains’, ‘rivers, ‘lakes’ and the like universally recognised in languages as naturally salient objects to be named? TheMore →

Participation and Posture

Human ethologists have shown that humans are both attracted to others and at the same time fear them. They refer to this kind of fear with the technical term ‘socialMore →

Infant Pointing (9-15 Months) in Different Cultures

There are two tasks for conducting systematic observation of child-caregiver joint attention interactions. Task 1 – a “decorated room” designed to elicit infant and caregiver pointing. Task 2 – videotapedMore →

Ethnography of Pointing – Field Worker’s Guide

Pointing gestures are recognised to be a primary manifestation of human social cognition and communicative capacity. The goal of this task is to collect empirical descriptions of pointing practices inMore →