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Forms and Functions of Idiomatic Expressions in Conversational Interaction

Günter Schmale (Metz)



Abstract

Following a study of the conversational treatment of idiomatic expressions of German talk shows, the present treaty examines in which form and in which way idiomatic expressions are being employed and treated by participants in authentic conversations. Based on four conversational corpora from various domains seven different types of auto- and hetero-rephrasals and paraphrases are described. For each type general and specific functions are then analyzed. The article also deals with idiomatic expressions which remain untreated, i. e. where no subsequent activity might provide a clue as to the understanding of the idiom in question. The study thus concentrates on co(n)textual or semantic indicators which might facilitate the understanding and interpretation of untreated idioms. Finally the hypothesis is put forward that not the correct understanding of an idiom is decisive but rather the production of a next activity meeting the idiom producer's expectations. The idiom may even be misinterpreted as long as its host turn can be interpreted adequately in order to produce a conditionally relevant following turn.


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