Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 4(4), pp. 300 - 311
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040408
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The Use of Phrases Containing misunderstanding in German Discussion Forums

Johanna Salomonsson *
Academy of Languages and Media/German, Dalarna University, Sweden


This article focuses on phrases which include the word misunderstand (missverstehen) in German discussion forums. The article shows that the word misunderstanding not only is bound to actual misunderstandings in conversation but also is used as face work in order to stabilize communication. It is not a sign of a disturbance or interruption in interaction. Rather, the aim of the use of misunderstanding is to stabilize interaction in the forum and construe "understanding". Understanding occurs when the participants in the interaction can interpret the information in a message as relevant. This information is built on contextualisation cues, which make it possible for the receiver to connect an utterance to the context. Missing/irrelevant contextualization cues make the content of the message irrelevant and this causes a "misunderstanding", since the interlocutors do not share the same understanding of the context. The "misunderstanding" is negotiated on a meta level in an interactional sequence, referred to as a script in this article. Each contribution in the forum sequence is considered to be a slot in this script. The verb misunderstand can be used in different slots in these scripts for specific purposes. This article shows that the distribution of specific components in the message defines these purposes.

Pragmatics, Interaction Study, Internet, Discussion Forums, Misunderstanding, Relevance Theory, Scripts

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Johanna Salomonsson , "The Use of Phrases Containing misunderstanding in German Discussion Forums," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 300 - 311, 2016. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040408.

(b). APA Format:
Johanna Salomonsson (2016). The Use of Phrases Containing misunderstanding in German Discussion Forums. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 4(4), 300 - 311. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2016.040408.