Strategies in evolving meanings in interaction

Strategies in evolving meanings in interaction

This videoposter presentation (given in English) investigates the construction of meaning in interactive contexts, focusing on argument citation in debates and social media interactions. In debates, participants cite opponents’ arguments to refute claims and strengthen their positions. Similarly, social media users respond to posts to indicate their stances, engaging in a nuanced process of meaning negotiation.

This research centers on how speakers categorize original statements to achieve communicative objectives, aiming to elucidate the categorization processes in diverse linguistic contexts and their functional and strategic implications. Despite extensive explorations of meaning exchange in interactional pragmatics (Haugh, 2008, 2016), comparative studies across different interaction types are limited. This gap is addressed using occasioned semantics (Bilmes, 2011) as a methodological framework, enabling unified analysis of meaning evolution across various usage situations, thus enriching our understanding of semantic and pragmatic dynamics in interactional linguistics.

Data from the European University Debating Championships exemplify argument citation and counterargument in debates. Comments in X (previously Twitter) are also analyzed for interactions, focusing on replies that demonstrate stance-taking or interpretation of the original post. Occasioned semantics are employed to elicit the co-occurring words used to categorize the original statements to explore the relationship between the speaker’s original statement and the recipient’s categorizing utterances.

The analysis identifies distinct strategies in meaning categorization. In debates, participants often use causal relationships to argue about the potential negative consequences of the opposing side’s viewpoint. In X, users criticize the original post by directly pointing out problems linked to the post via causal relationship. These similarity of causal relationship and difference in the way to use it highlight the adaptive nature of language across communicative contexts and the influence of different communicative orientations.

These findings contribute to interactional pragmatics by demonstrating how communication context and purpose significantly influence strategies in meaning construction.



Bilmes, J. (2011). Occasioned semantics: A systematic approach to meaning in talk. Human Studies, 34(2), 129-153.

Haugh, M. (2008). Intention in pragmatics. Intercultural Pragmatics, 5(2), 99-110.

Haugh, M. (2016). “Just kidding”: Teasing and claims to non-serious intent. Journal of Pragmatics, 95, 120-136.

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