WP205 Interactional Sociolinguistics



This paper starts with a sketch of the origins of Interactional Sociolinguistics (IS) in Gumperz and Hymes’ early efforts to develop a general theory of language and society. Characterising the key features of Gumperzian IS, it emphasises the notions of ‘inference’ and ‘contextualisation’ as well as the (counter-hegemonic) centrality of intensive analyses of recorded interaction. It then turns to IS’s close relationship with Linguistic Anthropology and Conversation Analysis, considering the challenges presented by IS’s insistent interdisciplinarity and its relative lack of formalisation, following this with a brief discussion of how IS seeks to intervene in non-academic activity. Concurring with Auer & Roberts’ view that Gumperz was the first to develop a sociolinguistics capable of handling globalised superdiversity, the paper then describes the ways in which his work on code-switching and intercultural communication has been updated in, respectively, studies of stylisation and asylum procedures. Finally, it suggests that in future work, IS should examine the interface between face-to-face and digital interaction together with the implications of new forms of surveillance, capitalising on the anti-structuralist rigour that IS can bring to the study of Foucauldian ‘governmentality’.