In this project I argue that, crosslinguistically, there are two grammatical domains of discourse processing that need to be distinguished. The following abstract summarizes the objective of the pr oject. The abstract is taken from a book manuscript that I have just completed.
The Grammar of Interactives
Bernd Heine, October 28, 2021
The concern of the book is with identifying a domain of discourse processing referred to as ‘interactive grammar’. Ten types of interactive expressions are distinguished, namely attention signals, directives, discourse markers, evaluatives, ideophones, interjections, response elicitors, response signals, social formulae, and vocatives. Having been treated in previous work as a fairly marginal part of language, interactive grammar is described as a distinct category that contrasts with sentence grammar both in its functions and its structural behavior.
The main message of the book is that speakers dispose of two contrasting modes for structuring their discourses. One mode, represented by sentence grammar, organized in a propositional format and having an analytic organization, focuses on conceptual communication about the world. The second mode, represented by interactive grammar, has a holophrastic organizaton and a focus on social communication. Both kinds of grammar have an argument structure, but whereas that of sentence grammar is shaped by the propositional format of sentences, that of interactive grammar is shaped by the indexical nature of the situation of discourse.
The distinction between two grammars exhibits, on the one hand, correlations with observations made in neurolinguistic studies on differential activity in the two hemispheres of the human brain. On the other hand, there are also noteworthy parallels to a similar distinction made in social psychology between two types or systems of reasoning and judgement. The conclusion drawn in the book is that the two grammars have complementary functions and both are needed for successful communication.
The project has turned into a book: "The Grammar of Interactives" to appear January 2023 with Oxford University Press. Still, the project is ongoing and I'd be interested in critical comments on the thesis of the book, which presents a challenge to existing views of linguistic analysis. ... [more]