Maaike van Naerssen
Managing informal interaction. Stancetaking and alignment in Dutch and Indonesian
Whenever someone states something, they take stance on what they are talking about. Their utterance presents the propositional content of the message and at the same time shares their position regarding the topic of talk. They convey their support or opposition, their like or dislike for it. Subsequent, related, contributions similarly not only react to the content of the earlier message, but to the associated stance taken by the other participant as well. Every interaction thus requires careful management of both the content discussed and the interpersonal relations between those involved. Generally speaking, interlocutors aim to construct and maintain a favorable relationship. This would, for one thing, be reflected by them taking similar stances on the same topic of talk, expressing their mutual understanding and shared position on the matter at hand and emphasizing their overall likeness.
This dissertation investigates how people manage their informal interactions by means of phatic communicative structures. It explores to what extent the choices made by speakers are cross-linguistically stable or language specific, since differences in conversational style could affect intercultural communication and understanding. Three types of linguistic behavior are addressed: offering support and agreement, reproducing meaning (and form), and collaboratively constructing a single message. The preferences across and within these three types are contrasted for Dutch and Indonesian speakers. While both groups of speakers use all of the phatic structures under investigation, their preference for one or the other indicates a stronger orientation toward explicit stance negotiation in Dutch compared to Indonesian.