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AbstractConversation analysis has established that the smooth progression of interaction and the accomplishment of action rest on joint understanding, which is implicitly built by a next turn of talk. In this article we examine explicit claims to intersubjective understanding from a range of settings from the institutional to the mundane. Our target expressions have the general form; I + ‘understand’ + YOU + PSYCHOLOGICAL FORMULATION such as I understand your concern and I see that this is frustrating you. We propose these expressions do “pro forma” affiliation—that is, they make a show of affiliating, even if in fact there is no affiliation. By explicitly claiming and demonstrating an understanding of the other speaker’s subjectivity, our target expression orients to misalignment between the parties, makes a show of other-attentiveness and bridges a shift that advances a speaker’s interactional agenda. Our contribution is to show the strategic function of a previously undocumented pro-social grammatical-conversational structure. Data are in English, and in Estonian and Swedish with English translation.
CitationWeatherall A, Keevallik L (2016) 'When claims of understanding are less than affiliative', Research on Language and Social Interaction, 49 (3), pp.167-182.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
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