The dynamics of insubordination: An overview

Nicholas Evans, Honore Watanabe

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter has a triple function, as an introduction to the phenomenon of insubordination with particular exemplification from the Australian language Kayardild, a review article drawing together the last decade of research on the topic, and a reasoned synthesis of the chapters comprising this volume, organised around a number of interwoven thematic strands.Insubordination, we argue, is a key site for understanding the dynamic and constant interplay of parole and langue, i.e. of actual spoken data in discourse on the one hand, and grammatical models used by speakers (or grammarians) on the other. It is also a prime example of the benefits that can be reaped by seeing the sentences that underlie utterances as collaboratively constructed during dyadic interaction.Since the typological survey and initial model of insubordination put forward by Evans (2007), many studies have extended our empirical coverage of the phenomenon in the languages of the world, found new functions for structures originating through insubordination, or challenged aspects of the original model. Particularly important have been the development of improved mechanisms for representing constructional meaning, increasing attention to the grammar of interaction and actual conversational data, better incorporation of prosody into our models of syntax and conversation, and the use of corpora of actual rather than elicited speech. All these trends have enriched our understanding of the variety of functions that insubordination can discharge, and the embedding of its evolution in actual conversational practice. Once such functions are taken into account, insubordination ceases to be seen as an odd and marginal aberration, and instead appears as a typologically widespread consequence of speakers’ search for formal means of embedding their utterances in the wider discourse, whether dyadic or narrative.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInsubordination
    Editors Nicholas Evans and Honre Watanabe
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
    ISBN (Print)9789027206961
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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