Fakultät für Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften

International Workshop: Language in Social Interaction

07 July 2023 - University of Wuppertal - Campus Grifflenberg, B.06.01/02


There has been a long tradition of describing language use, grammar and conversation from the viewpoint of an individual speaker’s mind outside the world of social interaction. This “offline” perspective on linguistic cognition and interaction, which feeds into processing mechanisms residing “inside” the individual speaker, has recently been questioned and expanded to include an “online” perspective on the speaker in concrete social interaction, which pays tribute to the interaction dynamics between speakers and the responsive character of language use in interactional encounters. For instance, speakers usually build on each other’s contributions and they use expressions whose occurrence is tied to concrete communicative situations, thus creating a fluid interplay of moves, structures, actions and thoughts that allows co-participants to become “one social unit of agency” (Dingemanse 2020:12) rather than acting as isolated agents (or minds). This explains why a large amount of what speakers produce in a turn (an estimated 40%) in spontaneous speech does not primarily serve building grammatical and semantic relations, but is motivated by interaction management (e.g. backchanneling, response elicitation), consideration of the listener’s needs, and the organization of information flow (e.g. managing discourse relations). All this leads to the premise that language use and linguistic cognition are fundamentally different when we are in interaction with others as compared to when we act outside interactive contexts, as is evidenced in more recent studies in the fields of social neuroscience (e.g. Pfeiffer et al. 2013; Schilbach et al. 2013), or in recent interaction-based work in linguistics (e.g. Heine 2023), including studies of interaction-based elements (e.g. Heine, Kuteva, Kaltenböck & Long 2021).


By focusing on recent research in interaction-oriented linguistics and related areas, this workshop seeks to bring together contributions to gain new insights into language-related aspects of social interaction, moving away from the individual-based perspective toward an interaction-based perspective. What is it that separates the above-mentioned “online” from “offline” forms of language use and linguistic cognition? This includes:

1. understanding to which extent particular linguistic resources (e.g. discourse markers, “interactives” such as backchannels, interjections, attention getters, response elicitors, prosody) and practices (e.g. turn co-constructions, joint actions) contribute to the interaction dynamics between agents,

2. understanding the cognitive mechanisms and processes involved in the temporary coupling of two minds engaged in conversational interaction (e.g. interactive alignment/ synchronization; establishing common ground; conversational coordination, discourse processing, Theory of Mind).


20 minutes talk + 10 minutes for discussion;

language used for presentations and in the discussions: English

Invited speakers

Prof. Dr. Bernd Heine (University of Cologne)

Prof. Dr. Haiping Long (Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China)

Practical information

Conference venue: University of Wuppertal, Germany, Campus Grifflenberg, B.06.01/02

Workshop date: 7 July 2023

Organization: Alexander Haselow (University of Wuppertal)

Any questions related to the workshop can be sent to: <haselow[at]uni-wuppertal.de>

For information on hotels and sights, follow this link:



LISI 2023 Program


LISI 2023 Book of Abstracts


Dingemanse, Mark. 2020. The space between our heads. Aeon 4/2020.

Bernd Heine, Gunther Kaltenböck, Tania Kuteva & Haiping Long. 2021. The Rise of Discourse Markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heine, Bernd. 2023. The Grammar of Interactives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pfeiffer, Ulrich et al. 2013. Toward a neuroscience of social interaction. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7, 22.

Schilbach et al. 2013. Toward a second-person neuroscience. Behavioral Brain Sciences 36.4, 393–414.

Weitere Infos über #UniWuppertal: