Dialogical Genres

Empractical and Conversational Listening and Speaking

  • Daniel C. O'Connell
  • Sabine Kowal

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Historical and Empirical Foundations

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 3-39
    3. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 41-65
    4. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 67-105
    5. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 107-151
  3. Theoretical Considerations of Empractical Speech

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 153-153
    2. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 155-165
    3. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 167-177
    4. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 179-188
    5. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 189-196
    6. Daniel C. O’Connell, Sabine Kowal
      Pages 197-199
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 201-225

About this book


What happens in everyday dialogue? The authors revert to a rich prehistory to answer this question: Philipp Wegener in the late 19th and Karl Bühler in the first half of the 20th century in the German traditions of philology and psychology. Their work culminated in the concept empractical speech. This groundbreaking book opens up a new view of language use in settings in which participants are primarily involved not in speaking but in some non-linguistic activity and in which the need for speech arises only occasionally. Behold empractical speech, a genre unto itself with respect to conversation – an ubiquitous phenomenon of everyday life and the very setting of early language acquisition. 

The historical, theoretical, and empirical approaches of Dialogical Genres establish differences between empractical and conversational speech. The authors’ theoretical orientation is psychological. Their empirical methodology is quantitative and qualitative analysis of excerpts from feature films. Salient topics include: 

• A revisionist history of psycholinguistic.

• Differences between empractical and conversational speech: more silence, fewer speaker changes, less syntactic structure.

• Psychological principles of all spoken dialogue: intersubjectivity, perspectivity, open-endedness, verbal integrity.

• Social responsibility of listeners and speakers.


Psychologists and other social communication scientists will find Dialogical Genres rewarding and provocative.


This precise and nuanced book explores and situates one of the core features of the life of speech– empractical speech – that has been shunted aside by late 20th century theorists; it continues the work of the great masters, especially Philipp Wegener and Karl Bühler. With supplementary and rich contemporary means it reconfigures our ways of viewing a whole dimension of the life of language and the speakers and listeners who animate it and are animated by it. O’Connell and Kowal have blended historical, theoretical, and empirical sides of their investigation into an elegant unity

Robert E. Innis, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA, USA

 This book gives back to situational context the primacy it had in Philipp Wegener’s and Karl Bühler’s theories of language and communication. The focus is on empractical speech -- speech embedded in nonlinguistic activities. In this prototype of language use, language, action and context provide the threedimensional space of meaning-making. In this process the listener is as important as the speaker, and silences are as important as words. This book is for everybody who wants to understand how language is put to work socially, practically, and interactionally in everyday life. Language does not exist. It happens

Brigitte Nerlich, Ph.D., DLitt, University of Nottingham, UK


Communication Linguistic Listening Psycholinguistic Speaking

Authors and affiliations

  • Daniel C. O'Connell
    • 1
  • Sabine Kowal
    • 2
  1. 1.Emeritus Professor of PsychologyGeorgetown UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Technische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012
  • Publisher Name Springer, New York, NY
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science
  • Print ISBN 978-1-4614-3528-0
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4614-3529-7
  • Buy this book on publisher's site