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Val.Es.Co. (Valencia. Español Coloquial) is a research group created within the Department of Spanish at the University of Valencia in 1990 that aims to study colloquial Spanish. The group, led by Professor Antonio Briz, consists of professors and research fellows from the Departments of Spanish Studies at the Universities of Valencia and Alicante.

The purpose of the Val.Es.Co. research group is, as noted above, to approach the study of conversational Spanish at different levels of analysis from a basically oral corpus, extracted directly from spontaneous conversation and other speeches.

The initial hypothesis was that the functioning of colloquial conversation could be explained, not as a transgression of sentence grammar, but as a set of structures and strategies, of pragmatic nature, constituted in the interaction process.

To test this hypothesis it was a prerequisite to have a representative corpus of conversations, transcribed by a transliteration system capable of representing the conversational acts of our study. The development of a representative corpus was considered, as previous work on the analysis. We have published some samples of this corpus, which is already concluded (Briz coord. 1995 and Briz and group Val.Es.Co (partially)).

All work carried out so far has confirmed the hypothesis and achieved the following objectives:

  • To characterise the colloquial register: first, by means of the analysis and explanation of the linguistic and communicative strategy aspects that identify this speech register in general (Briz, 1996 and 1998) and, second, with the more specific description of various linguistic phenomena such as word order (Padilla, 2001), intonation (Hidalgo, 1997), story sequences (Baixauli, 2000), phraseology (Ruiz Gurillo, 1997 and 1998), connection (Pons, 1998), intensification and attenuation (Briz, 1995 and 1998; M. Albelda), loanwords (Gómez Capuz, 1998), the presence of slang (Sanmartín, 1998b), daily metaphors (Sanmartín, 2000 and M.J. Fernández), direct style (Benavent, 2000) lexical quantification (Terrádez, 2001), syntactic variation (Gómez Molina, 1997), etc.
  • To study the structure of conversation and its units: sequential configuration, turn-taking, simultaneous speech, interactional behaviour of participants, etc. (Briz and group Val.Es.Co., 2000).

Other work in progress deals with the description and explanation of other colloquial conversational acts in great depth, e.g., deixis, intensification or metaphorical processes, the definition of the act, the smallest unit of the conversation, and the analysis of possible correlations between social and linguistic variables, for which we rely, in the latter case, on the corpus of conversations, as well as on a corpus of interviews which is currently being completed.

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