Emotive involvement in conversational storytelling (202)

How do we signal emotions in everyday interaction? What verbal and nonverbal resources do speakers employ to make emotive involvement accessible for the recipient? How do interlocutors manage what happens next?

Our project focuses on emotive involvement as displayed during the activity of storytelling in mundane conversation. It investigates (a) how verbal, prosodic and visual cues are deployed to make specific, context-bound affects interpretable for the recipient, and (b) how the recipient responds, or more generally, how the displayed affects are dealt with in subsequent talk.

The data basis is audio-visual recordings of naturally occurring interaction, which are transcribed and analyzed on a micro level. The aim of the study is to uncover an 'interactional grammar' for the display of affectivity and its management in interaction.

The methods employed are those of conversation analysis, interactional linguistics and multimodal research. In particular, we investigate the use of the following:

  • rhetorical, lexico-semantic, syntactic, and phonetic-phonological resources; e.g. Haj: <<len>´`HOLla.>
  • prosodic resources (including voice quality)
  • visual resources such as body posture, head movements, hand movements, gaze and facial expression
Our analyses show that and how affectivity is continually made accessible and dealt with in interaction. It makes clear that affectivity is not only a somatic and/or cognitive phenomenon within the individual, but is also a fundamentally interactional phenomenon, which is constructed and negotiated through the joint efforts of the interactional partners. Such an investigation contributes to the general modelling of the "languages of emotion".


Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2012, Im Druck). On doing empathy with the voice. On doing empathy with the voice.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2011, Im Druck). Exploring affiliation in the reception of conversational complaint stories. Peräkylä, A., Sorjonen, M. (Eds.). Affect and Emotions in Conversation. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2011, Im Druck). On preference in responses to rejection. Stance and affect in interaction: Sequential and dialogic perspectives. Text & Talk (Mouton de Gruyter) (Special issue). Kärkkäinen, E.; Du Bois, J. W. (eds.)

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2011, Im Druck). When turns start with because: An exercise in interactional syntax. Lenker, U., Meurmans, A. (Eds.). Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English: Varieng.

Selting, M. (2011, Im Druck). Verbal, vocal, and visible practices in conversational interaction. Müller, C., Fricke, E., Cienki, A., McNeill, D. (Eds.). Body - Language - Communication. An International Handbook. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.

Barth-Weingarten, D.; Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2011). A system for transcribing talk-in-interaction: GAT 2. Gesprächsforschung - Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion. Übersetzt und adaptiert von Selting u.a. 2009

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2011). Affectivity in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective. Stehl, T. (Ed.). Sprachen in mobilisierten Kulturen: Aspekte der Migrationslinguistik. 231-257. Potsdam: Universitätsverlag.

Selting, M. (2011). The grammar of constructing climaxes of amusing stories. VALS-ASLA Jahrestagung: Grammatik des Sprechens - Grammatik des Handelns. Bern.

Couper-Kuhlen, E., Reber, E. (2010). Interjektionen zwischen Lexikon und Vokalität: Lexem oder Lautobjekt?. Deppermann, A., Linke, A. (Eds.). Sprache intermedial. Stimme und Schrift, Bild und Ton. 69-96. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter.

Reber, E., Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2010). Interjektionen zwischen Lexikon und Vokalität: Lexem oder Lautobjekt?. Deppermann, A., Linke, A. (Eds.). Sprache intermedial. Stimme und Schrift, Bild und Ton. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.

Selting, M. (2010). Affectivity in conversational storytelling. An analysis of displays of anger or indignation in complaint stories. Pragmatics 20:2. 229-277.

Selting, M. et al. (2010). Gesprächsanalytisches Transkriptionssystem 2 (GAT 2). Gesprächsforschung - Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion (ISSN 1617-1837) 10. 223-272.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (2009). A sequential approach to affect: The case of 'disappointment'. Haakana, M., Laakso, M., Lindström, J. (Eds.). Talk in interaction-comparative dimensions. 94-123. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society (SKS).