Linguistics and English Language

Meaning and grammar seminar

Speaker: Eleni Kapogianni (University of Kent)

Title: Meaning negotiation and non-serious talk in interaction

Abstract: This paper takes an interactional pragmatic approach to cases where non-serious talk (namely humour and sarcasm) trigger and/or become part of a negotiation between speakers regarding what was meant, was was intended, and what each speaker can be held accountable for. This approach moves away from traditional (Gricean) intention-based models, where speakers' intentions are largely considered a priory and taken for granted, and towards a model that, incorporating Conversation-Analytic principles, focuses on the dynamic nature of meaning negotiation between interlocutors. The examination of non-serious talk, in particular, demonstrates how interlocutors are constantly aware of its multiple layers, nuances, and (indirectly) communicated propositions, each of which can become the object of contention (and meta-pragmatic commentary) during conversation. In simpler words, it is demonstrated that back-tracking (meaning cancellation) of the "I was only joking" type does not go unchallenged, especially in cases where the recipients of the original utterance have both recognized the humorous strategy and taken offence at it at the same time.


Seminars are organised by the meaning and grammar research group.

Meaning and grammar research group

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Jun 07 2022 -

Meaning and grammar seminar

2022-06-07: Meaning negotiation and non-serious talk in interaction

Online via link invitation