General information about this thematic research network

This research network programme has been initiated and developed by an interdisciplinary group of researchers at Södertörn University, Sweden, coordinated by Professor Cornelia Ilie. We all share an interest for dialogue as a communication tool, as a human activity and as a thinking process.

The activities carried our within DialogForum were initiated with financial support from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond - The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (2004-2005) and further developed with partial funding from FAS - Forskningsrådet för arbetsliv och socialvetenskap (Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research) - (2006-2008).

Cross-cultural dialogue in a pragmatic and rhetorical perspective

This network brings together senior and junior scholars of dialogue whose research concerns pragmatic and/or rhetorical aspects of dialogic forms of communication in one or more of the following four languages: English, Swedish, Spanish and French.

DialogForum is meant to bring into focus essential communicative functions of dialogue in different kinds of human activities and inter-human relations, by examining the interlocutors’ shifting roles (interpersonal and/or institutional) and relationships with their addressees and with third parties, the interlocutors’ cooperative and/or conflicting goals, the tension between individual and collective actors, the ongoing meaning negotiation between interactants, the interplay between the utterance and the performance of speech acts, the interdependence between reasoning patterns and emotional experiences, the correlation between speaker credibility and hearer involvement.


  • Theoretical Goals

  • Corpus Analysis

  • Research Questions


The DialogForum programme has two major goals, a theoretical and an empirical one.

(i) The overarching theoretical goal is to develop and test a generally applicable interdisciplinary model of analysis for the study of dialogue across two disciplines: pragmatic linguistics and rhetoric.

(ii) The empirical goal is to identify common and distinctive features of several types of dialogue with a view to developing the basis for a taxonomy of dialogic genres ranging from formal to informal ones, that is from institutional dialogues (parliamentary debates, courtroom interaction), through semi-institutional dialogues (media and theatre) to non-institutional dialogues (everyday conversations); the same types of dialogues will be analysed in a cross-cultural perspective by examining comparable dialogue corpora in four languages: English, Swedish, Spanish and French.

A methodological goal of DialogForum is to provide a meeting place for exploratory studies into dialogue from the perspective of two related and increasingly convergent disciplines: pragmatics and rhetoric. The two disciplines have several common denominators, which have not been investigated systematically with respect to the field of dialogue analysis. Recent studies indicate that a cross-fertilisation of the two disciplines may contribute to identifying better integrated analytical models and more complex methodological tools in order to account for the dynamic and many-sided forms and mechanisms of dialogue, its context-related functions, implications and consequences.



The empirical work is heavily based on corpus analysis, which involves already available corpora, as well as new corpora to be developed by the programme participants. The analytical methods will be both quantitative (selection, ordering, annotation, statistics and classification of the data) and qualitative (with an emphasis on manual reflective analysis).



By engaging in dialogue, people offer information about themselves, their views, their linguistic and socio-cultural backgrounds, while they receive comparable information about their interlocutors. As a result of sharing their experiences and ideas, people can actively become involved in shaping a new sort of community that can better reflect the relationships among its members.


Both pragmatics and rhetoric are concerned with the relationship between human action, institutional settings, and cultural values. The challenge is to identify overlaps and complementarities between the distinctive features of these two disciplines. Three main research questions will be investigated within the framework of DialogForum.


1. Which pragmatic methods of analysis and rhetorical approaches are most compatible with each other in dialogue research? To what extent can these methods be applied successfully to particular dialogue genres or activities?


2. To what extent is it possible to find correspondences and correlations between pragma-linguistics and rhetoric in the comparative study of cross-cultural dialogues?


3. To what extent can the micro-level analysis be integrated into a macro-level analysis of dialogue? In what way will a pragma-rhetorical model of dialogue analysis be able to accommodate the cross-cultural perspectives on communication in various communities and institutions?