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Journal of Pragmatics





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This conversation-analytic paper reports on the structure and interactional use of what I term the ‘do-construction’ in English-language conversation: Utterances such as The kids do eat cake (cf. The kids eat cake). The argument developed here is that, at its core, the do-construction is used to index a contrast with a prior understanding. As will be shown, this prior understanding can be overtly demonstrated or merely presumed or potential, and it may be the understanding of the speaker him/herself, or that of the recipient. Similarly, the do-construction can be seen in a variety of sequential positions, and in conjunction with a range of social actions. Nonetheless, what binds this diversity of cases together is the use of the do-construction to introduce content into the interaction in a way that actively orients to a contrastive understanding. After establishing the contrastive work that this resource accomplishes as a general feature of turn design, we then consider how the use of the do-construction can be seen to be relevant to specific sequences of action. I conclude with a discussion of the relationship between the grammatical construction analyzed here and other-correction, and comment on some related resources for indexing contrasts in English.


This is the pre-print version of Indexing a contrast: The do-construction in English conversation, published in the Journal of Pragmatics.