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Nature of Language

In his research, spanning four decades, Jan Anward has been concerned with basic questions about human languages, their properties, and their role in everyday life. Some major areas have been:

Language development as a life-long process

Language development, which is a life-long process, is an extension and increased mastery of a repertoire of roles in linguistic activities. Roles in established activities sit there ’waiting’ for you, but also have degrees of freedom within which you can change them, through various strategies of power and solidarity.
Publications: 1983a, 1989a, 1990, 1996, 1997a, 2005a, 2007b

People whose communicative abilities are affected by various diseases (afasia, dementia, psychosis) strive to maintain their normality in roles that are well-known to them.
Publications: 2003a, 2010a, 2010b.
See also Jan Anward's presentation on language and dementia:
[2013] Jan Anward: ’Epistemics and Dementia’. Keynote presentation. Epistemics in Interaction. Helsinki, September 19, 2013.

Languages as open and dynamic systems

Increased mastery of a given role or intitiation into a new role opens up new possibilities of expression. Available linguistic resources, from the speaker or from the environment, are mobilized to serve these new possibilties.
Languages are open and dynamic systems, which change with every new use of them. Such changes are conservative, though, and rather imperceptible, since they need to accord with an ambient tradition.
Young adults can tentatively be identified as a group which is more free to alter tradition.
Publications: 1981, 1996, 2000a, 2005b.
See also Jan Anward's presentation:
[2014] Jan Anward: ‘Burning common ground. On iconoclastic interaction’. Helsinki Lecture in Intersubjectivity. Helsinki, April 11, 2014. http://video.helsinki.fi/Arkisto/flash.php?id=20275


How linguistic structures emerge in conversation

Speaking is structured like a language through turn-taking and recycling in conversation. Emerging structures are stabilized and elaborated in a tradition of conversations.
Publications: 1976c, 1999b, 2000b, 2002, 2003d, 2003e, 2004b, 2005b, 2005c, 2006b, 2007a, 2010c, 2011b, 2014a, 2014b.

Parts of speech in the languages of the world

The part-of-speech system of a language is a unique extension of an originally very simple system.
Publications: 1998, 2000a, 2001a, 2004a, 2006a.
Also: Anward, Jan, ms 1996: The Dao of Lexical Categories. Part 2: Groundings. (PDF) (References to this ms are found in 2000a.)

Swedish as a European language

A number of studies of various more or less specific aspects of Swedish syntax, in a European and typological perspective.
Publications: 1973, 1974a, 1974b, 1974c, 1976b, 1980b, 1981, 1982b, 1986a, 1988, 1989b, 1994b, 1997d, 2000b, 2004b.


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Last updated: 2016-01-19