Research interests | Research statement | Interviews | Invited talks

Research interests

Fictive Interaction (the intersection of language, interaction, and cognition), Cognitive Linguistics (mental spaces and conceptual blending), Discourse Studies, Argumentation, Language pathology.

Research statement

I am mostly interested in the interrelation between language, interaction and cognition. If human babies learn to interact long before they learn to speak, and if face-to-face conversation is the most common form of communication, I am interested in looking into the question: how is the structure of interaction reflected in language structure and language use? That is, what forms does the basic interactional pattern of turn-taking take in grammar and discourse? In addition, I’m interested in the communicative functions and effectiveness of interactional structures embedded in discourse.


From a linguistic perspective I am mostly interested in what I’ve called ‘fictive interaction’ (Pascual 2002, 2006, 2014), a cognitive phenomenon that reflects the interactional structure of conversation, and is manifested in language structure and use. Fictive interaction occurs at different levels: (i) the level of the discourse (monologue conceptualized as dialogue); (ii) the sentence (rhetorical questions); (iii) the clause (“They thought, hey, I may find it”); (iv) the phrase (“the attitude of yes, I can do it”); and (v) the word (“forget-me-nots”, “a ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude”).


I have mainly studied fictive interaction in courtroom settings. Due to the crucial role of talk-in-interaction in the courtroom, courtroom settings dramatically illustrate the power and effectiveness of fictive interaction. Lawyers often use fictive interaction as a communicative strategy: (i) they use the question-answer pattern to organize their discourse (“Did he log onto a computer that night at work? No. Did he log onto a computer at home? No. Did he…”, Pascual 2006a); (ii) they use fictive enunciations in order to refer to non-verbal referents (“He’s creating the appearance that, Look, everybody, look at what a great husband I am”, Pascual 2006b); (iii) they attribute speech to pieces of evidence (“That’s not what the bullet tells me”, Pascual 2002); (iv) they portray the deceased victim as speaking up (“a murder victim testifying through evidence”, Coulson & Pascual 2006, Pascual 2008a, 2008b); and (v) they present the final verdict as an act of communication (“a verdict that says: ‘you are free to go’”, Pascual 2008a).


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Universiteitskrant, University of Groningen, 2012


Nieuwsbrief Faculteit der Letteren, University of Groningen, 2010


Nieuwsbrief Faculteit der Letteren, VU University Amsterdam, 2008


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Invited talks (selection)


– “Linguistic meaning as emerging from talk-in-interaction”, 68th Distinguished Scholar Lecture Series, School of Foreign Languages, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, 15 May 2017.

– “Culture as a way of thinking: Similarities and differences between metaphors across languages”, ‘The Windows of the Exchange’, Zhejiang University, 6 May 2017.


“How Language Mirrors Conversation: A cross-linguistic study”, Plenary lecture, Yearly Conference of the Zhejiang Province Foreign Languages Association, Taizhou University, Taizhou, China, 28 Oct 2016.


– “The conversational nature of language: From cognition and grammar to expert communication and language pathology”, Plenary lecture at the 2nd Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics, Marie Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland, 20-22 June 2016. [Abstract]

– “When ‘Alô!’ means telephone: Non-constructed speech for non-reports by children with autism”, expert workshop ‘Between Direct and Indirect Speech’, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, 19 February 2016.

– “The conversational basis of grammar: From non-written languages to language pathology”, keynote address, ‘Yearly senior academic forum of the School of International Studies’, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 18 December 2015.

– “Conversations within conversations: Fictive interaction in discourse, grammar and language pathology”, job talk, School of International Studies at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 22 May 2015.

– “The conversational mind: Fictive interaction in everyday, professional, and aphasic discourse”, Dept. of Cognitive Science, Hunan University, Changsha, China, 16 May 2014.

– “‘Says who?’: Fictive interaction as communicative strategy in language for specific purposes”, Foreign Language School of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, 13 May 2014.

– “‘Say it with a conversation’: Fictive interaction as cognitive, communicative and linguistic phenomenon”, School of International Studies at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 6 May 2014.

– “A ‘do-it-yourself’ construction: Forms and functions of fictive interaction across languages and discourse genres”, School of International Studies at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 5 May 2014.

– “‘The What?’: The conversation frame in thought, grammar, and discourse”, ‘Grammar and Cognition’ group, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 11 Sep 2013.

– “When direct speech is not reported speech (or thought): An overview”, ‘Quotation and Depiction in Interaction’ Workshop, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 8 Mar 2013.

– “The Conversation as a frame in language, discourse and cognition”, Dept. of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, U.S.A.), 18 Apr 2011.

– “Fictive interaction as argumentative strategy in murder trials”, VU Amsterdam, 23 Apr 2011.

– (with R. Groenewold) “Deze is van ‘hee hier ben ik hoor, zie je me nog wel?’” Fictieve interactie in (semi-)spontane taal van afasiepatiënten” [“This is like ‘hey here I am, do you see me yet?’ Fictive interaction in (semi)spontaneous speech of aphasic patients”], STAK Foundation Aphasic Therapy Amsterdam (SAA), Haarlem, the Netherlands, 15 Jan 2011.

– “Mendigo o pordiosero?: Interacción fictiva en español” [“Beggar or ‘byGoder’: Fictive interaction in Spanish”], Dept. of Translation and Language Sciences, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, 24 Nov 2010.

– “The conversation frame: Linguistic forms and communicative functions in discourse”, work visit by the University Board of Directors, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, 16 Jun 2010.

– “Talk within talk: Fictive interaction as a simplex blend”, Blending and Discourse workshop, Centre for Social Practices and Cognition (SoPraCon), University of Southern Denmark, 1 Mar 2010.

– “Discours au tribunal: La production par le procureur du témoignage de la victime” [Discourse in court: The prosecutor’s presentation of the victim’s testimony], Dépt. des sciences de la société, University of Friburg, Switzerland, 13 Nov 2007.

– “(Aan)sprekende metaforen van vanzelfsprekend bewijs: Interactie en argumentatie in Amerikaanse, Vlaamse en Nederlandse strafrechtzaken” [“Telling metaphors and evidence that speaks for itself: Interaction and argumentation in American, Flemish and Dutch criminal trials”]. Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC), Ministry of Justice, The Hague, the Netherlands, 10 Oct 2006.

– “Text for context, trial for trialogue: Studying legal discourse through following a prosecutor around,” Panel ‘The pragmatics of institutional discourse: A panel honoring the work of Aaron V. Cicourel,’ chaired by Prof. Ch. Briggs, 9th International Pragmatics Conference. Riva del Garda, Italy, 12 Jul 2005.

– “Courtroom blends: Conceptual blending and fictive interaction in judicial argumentation,” Videoconference, Dept. of English, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., 14 Oct 2004.

– “Tips voor het schrijven van een proefschrift” [Tips for writing a PhD dissertation], Proefschriftendag [PhD day], VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 8 May 2003.

– “On a blend type: Fictive interaction networks across the literature and as manifested in judicial settings,” ‘The Blending Workshop,’ Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België (KVAB), Brussels, Belgium, 1 Apr 2003.

– “Fictive interaction or the intersection of language, interaction, and cognition”, Linguistics seminar, Department of Linguistics, University of Wales at Bangor, United Kingdom, 5 Feb 2003.

– (with M. Poblet) “Problemas de comunicación en los Tribunales de Justicia: Análisis de interrogatorios” [Communication problems in Courts of Justice: Analysis of witness questioning], Workshop on ‘Oral communication techniques’, Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Madrid, Spain, 6 Oct 1998.

– (with M. Poblet) “Preguntes retòriques i inferències als Tribunals de Justícia” [Rhetorical questions and inferences in court], Workshop on ‘Sociology of law: Interaction, organization, profession,’ Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials, Barcelona, Spain, 22 Sep 1998.


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