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Pivots revisited: Cesuring in action

Authors
  • Barth-Weingarten, Dagmar1
  • Küttner, Uwe-A.2
  • Raymond, Chase Wesley3
  • 1 Department of English and American Studies, University of Potsdam, Germany , (Germany)
  • 2 Leibniz-Institute for the German Language, Augustaanlage 32 , (Germany)
  • 3 Department of Linguistics, University of Colorado, Hellems 290, 295 UCB, CO 80309 , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Open Linguistics
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Dec 03, 2021
Volume
7
Issue
1
Pages
613–637
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/opli-2020-0152
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Research Article
License
Green

Abstract

The term “pivot” usually refers to two overlapping syntactic units such that the completion of the first unit simultaneously launches the second. In addition, pivots are generally said to be characterized by the smooth prosodic integration of their syntactic parts. This prosodic integration is typically achieved by prosodic-phonetic matching of the pivot components. As research on such turns in a range of languages has illustrated, speakers routinely deploy pivots so as to be able to continue past a point of possible turn completion, in the service of implementing some additional or revised action. This article seeks to build on, and complement, earlier research by exploring two issues in more detail as follows: (1) what exactly do pivotal turn extensions accomplish on the action dimension, and (2) what role does prosodic-phonetic packaging play in this? We will show that pivot constructions not only exhibit various degrees of prosodic-phonetic (non-)integration, i.e., differently strong cesuras, but that they can be ordered on a continuum, and that this cline maps onto the relationship of the actions accomplished by the components of the pivot construction. While tighter prosodic-phonetic integration, i.e., weak(er) cesuring, co-occurs with post-pivot actions whose relationship to that of the pre-pivot tends to be rather retrospective in character, looser prosodic-phonetic integration, i.e., strong(er) cesuring, is associated with a more prospective orientation of the post-pivot’s action. These observations also raise more general questions with regard to the analysis of action.

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