On the Reflexive Relation Between Developing L2 Interactional Competence and Evolving Social Relationships: A Longitudinal Study of Word-Searches in the ‘Wild’

  • Simona Pekarek DoehlerEmail author
  • Evelyne Berger
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 38)


In this study we extend current research on L2 interactional competence and its development by exploring the reflexive relationship between, on the one hand, peoples’ changing practices for accomplishing social actions and, on the other hand, their evolving social relationships. Our analytic focus is on word-searches as a type of self-initiated repair, and hence as part of a mechanism of social interaction that is fundamental to in-situ meaning-making processes. We document change, over a period of 10 months, in an L2-speaking au-pair’s ‘methods’ and grammatical resources for recruiting co-participants’ assistance while searching for a word during dinner table conversations with her host family. We show how this change indicates the L2 speaker’s increased ability to maximize the progressivity of talk while at the same time establishing mutual comprehension, and hence intersubjectivity. Zooming in onto one precise linguistic construction recurrently used in word-searches (comment on dit ‘how do you say’), we also shed light on the progressive development of an L2 grammar-for-interaction as part of L2 interactional competence. We discuss how the observed changes constitute and simultaneously reflect dynamically evolving epistemic entitlements and social relationships between the participants.


Change over time Epistemic asymmetry  Intersubjectivity Progressivity Social relationships Word-search 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Applied LinguisticsUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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