Stancetaking in Discourse: subjectivity in interaction

The 10th Biennial Rice Linguistics Symposium
March 31, 2004 through April 3, 2004 at Rice University

There is no registration fee to attend the symposium, but you will need to pre-register by sending an e-mail to Robert Englebretson at reng {at}


The expression of attitude is one of the most fundamental and multifaceted human activities accomplished through and reflected in language. Humans evaluate the world around them, express emotions, beliefs, and desires, and align or disalign with others in social interaction. These aspects of human experience have been addressed from divergent but related fields such as linguistics, sociology, and anthropology, and a common understanding has recently begun to crystallize around the notion of stancetaking. Research on facets of stancetaking has been carried out under labels such as evaluation, subjectivity, epistemicity, footing, alignment, assessment, epistemology, agency, and ideology. Unfortunately, however, the boundaries and methodologies of specific disciplines and subfields have tended to obscure the cross-disciplinary relevance and interdependence of this work. Traditional linguistic approaches have tended to focus on the subjective dimensions of stancetaking, treating it from the monologic perspective of individual language users. Anthropological research has tended to focus on the cultural contingencies of stancetaking, and the construction of morality and responsibility. Sociological and ethnomethodological approaches recognize stance as co-constructed among participants within the dialogic world of interaction. Stancetaking permeates human experience at all levels, but our understanding of these phenomena remains incomplete and fragmentary.

The 10th Biennial Rice Linguistics Symposium seeks to bring together researchers of differing backgrounds and intellectual interests who address stancetaking in naturally-occurring discourse. The symposium seeks to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and integration, in order to arrive at a richer and more unified perspective. As such, the symposium is situated squarely in the burgeoning field which has come to be known as ‘interactional linguistics’—bringing together the quantitative methodology of discourse/corpus linguistics and the qualitative methodology of ethnography and Conversation Analysis, to gain insight into language form and function as well as cultural construction and social interaction. Research questions include, but are not limited to:

This symposium is both international in character and interdisciplinary in scope. Participants have been invited from several countries, and research will address languages as diverse as English, Finnish, Indonesian, Sakapulteko Maya, and others. The methodology of participants includes, but is not limited to: corpus linguistics, conversation analysis, discourse analysis, typology, ethnographic methods, ethnomethodology, and interactional sociolinguistics. For purposes of this symposium, what all of these approaches share is the analysis of naturally-occurring language data (either spoken, written, or signed) in its full sociocultural and interactional contexts of use.

Symposium Schedule

All talks will take place in the Kyle Morrow Room of Fondren Library, on the campus of Rice University.

Paper abstracts are no longer available.

Wednesday, March 31
6:00-9:00pmSymposium Reception and Banquet, Rice University Cohen House (faculty club), RSVP required.
Thursday, April 1
9:00-9:15amAnnouncements/Opening Remarks  
9:15-10:15"The Subjective and Interactive Character of Generalization in English Conversation"Joanne ScheibmanOld Dominion University
10:15-11:15"Patterns of stance taking: On the prosodic - interactional features of negative yes/no type interrogatives in spoken American English"Tiina KeisanenUniversity of Oulu, Finland
11:15-11:30Coffee Break  
11:30-12:30"The Two Q’s: Using a corpus to investigate stance quantitatively and qualitatively"Susan HunstonUniversity of Birmingham, UK
12:30-2:00Lunch (location TBA)  
2:00-3:00"Stance taking in TV interviews: Practices of positioning and alignment"Pentti HaddingtonUniversity of Oulu, Finland
3:00-3:15Coffee Break  
3:15-4:15"The Terms of Agreement: Indexing Epistemic Authority and Subordination in Talk-in-Interaction"Geoffrey RaymondUniversity of California Santa Barbara
6:00-8:30Dinner: Tex-Mex (location TBA)  
Friday, April 2
9:00am-1:00pmSymposium-sponsored Field Trip to the Houston Museum District
1:15-2:15"General resources for specific purposes: some aspects of stancetaking in colloquial Indonesian conversation"Robert EnglebretsonRice University
2:15-3:15"Where stance-taking and culture meet: Sakapultek conventions for representing and evaluating stances"Robin ShoapsUniversity of California Santa Barbara, & Center for Language, Interaction and Culture, UCLA
3:15-3:30Coffee Break  
3:30-4:30"Four Ways To Sound Like a Pittsburgher: Stancetaking and Vernacular Norm-Formation"Barbara JohnstoneCarnegie Mellon University
6:00-8:30Dinner: Texas BBQ (location TBA)  
Saturday, April 3
9:00-10:00am"The Intersubjectivity of Interaction"John W. Du BoisUniversity of California Santa Barbara, & Fulbright Senior Scholar (2003-2004), Tel Aviv University, Israel
10:00-11:00"Stance markers in spoken Finnish: minun mielestä and minusta"Mirka Rauniomaa University of Oulu, finland
11:00-11:15Coffee Break  
11:15-12:15"Practices of stance-taking: stance frames and beyond"Elise KärkkäinenUniversity of Oulu, Finland
12:15-1:30Lunch (location TBA)  
1:30-onwardRoundtable / open-forum discussion on stancetaking  
6:00-8:30Dinner (location TBA)  


The 10th Biennial Rice Linguistics Symposium is sponsored by:

Logistical Information

There is no registration fee to attend the symposium, but you will need to pre-register by sending an e-mail to Robert Englebretson at reng {at}

All presentations, including the Saturday-afternoon roundtable, will take place in the Kyle Morrow Room of Fondren Library, on the campus of Rice University.

Other Links of Interest


For more information about the symposium, or to pre-register to attend, contact Dr. Robert Englebretson at reng {at} or by phone at (713) 348-4776.

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