Objects as artifacts: synchronic convergence in multilingual contexts

David Divita



In this paper, I propose a shift in analytic focus from language to artifacts – that is, to personally meaningful objects that surface in interaction and generate talk – as a means of accounting for the historical dimension of the relationship between form and meaning. Artifacts activate memories and feelings from other times and places, informing ways of speaking in the conversational here-and-now. By applying discourse analysis to a conversation recorded during fieldwork at a social center for Spanish senior citizens in Paris, I show how various timescales – that is, the microgenetic scale of unfolding talk, the “series of connected discourse events” over weeks, months or even years, and the ontogenetic scale of individuals’ lives (Larsen-Freeman and Cameron 2008: 169) – converge in a single interaction. Such timescales inform not only the social meanings (the identities, stances, alignments) that individuals create, but also the linguistic resources they use to do so.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies