Practices of indexing discrepant assumptions with German ich dachte (‘I thought’) in talk-in-interaction
This paper studies practices of indexing discrepant assumptions accomplished by turn-constructional units with ich dachte (‘I thought’) in German talk-in-interaction. Building on the analysis of 141 instances from the corpus FOLK, we identify three sequential environments in which ich dachte is used to index that an assumption which a speaker (has) held contrasts with some other, contextually salient assumption. We show that practices which have been studied for English I thought are also routinely used in German: ich dachte is a means to manage epistemic incongruencies and to contrast an incorrect with a correct assumption in narratives. In addition, ich dachte is also used to account for the speaker’s own prior actions which may have looked problematic because they built on misunderstandings which the speaker only discovered later. Moreover, ich dachte-practices may also be used to create comic effects by reporting an earlier, absurd assumption. The practices are discussed with regard to their role in regaining common ground, in managing relationships, in maintaining the identity of a rational actor, and in terms of their exploitation for other conversational interests. Special attention is paid to how co-occurring linguistic features, and sequential and pragmatic factors, account for local interpretations of ich dachte.
Published online: 16 June 2020
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