Institutional Communication: Corpora, Analysis, Application

Institutional communication is characterized by the usage of files, forms, digital devices and further recourses which result in the interlinking of various linguistic interaction types. Because of this miscellaneous orientation towards linguistic and extralinguistic factors, which in turn identify each type of institutional communication, the described research field aims at conducting numerous projects which make valuable contribution to the practical implementation of the results. Some areas of implementation are the following: teaching methods in the medical training (Kliche 2015; Coussios et al. 2019), psychotherapeutic sessions (cf. Graf et al. 2019), corpus-based training for the future interpreters and translators (Bührig et al. 2012), or the creation of empirically grounded teaching materials for German as a foreign language classes (cf. Schopf / Weidner in press).

However, dealing with data from the institutional context presupposes numerous challenges at every project phase. This is where the workshop steps into place because it aims at demonstrating the application of tools from the research field of Digital Humanities specifically for the analysisof the institutional communication. The implementation of digital tools for the linguistic analysis must help the researchers keep the research projects data manageable, comparable and applicable in different contexts. Therefore, firstly we will point out and discuss some of the challenges the project team might be confronted with during the process of data collection, by demonstrating the structure and core components of the already existing corpora (CLARIAH-DE, Plattform Gesprochenes Deutsch [engl. Platform Spoken German]). The data collection and corpus compilation section will be followed by the discussion of the methodological issues along with the demonstration of specific tools developed in the field of Digital Humanities. These tools can support the process of data annotation, analysis and evaluation of the institutional context, as well as allow the researchers to widen the spectrum of potential research topics and methods of data analysis. 

Corpora and data in the institutional context

Depending on the research question, at the beginning of the research project every team has a decision to make, namely if they want to use already existing corpora or they opt for collecting the new corpus of data representing a specific type of the institutional communication. This workshop intends to outline both strategies including the reflecting about advantages and pitfalls of both scenarios. In this section we will present some corpora from the institutional setting, e.g. data from the medical, school, and administrative contexts, which all belong to the CLARIAH-DE association. Moreover, the summer school attendees will see some forms of communication in the university context and service sector which are part of „Plattform Gesprochenes Deutsch (engl. Platform Spoken German)“. The workshop will also provide some room for exchanging insights, experiences, best-practice examples and workflows. We will include some materials which should help collecting data independently and successfully, in cooperation with the corresponding institutions. Another difficulty at this stage could be the low amount of research participants as a result of the sensitiveness or confidentiality of the conversations (e.g. psychotherapy sessions or police interrogations), and the obligation to obtain the consent form signed by every participant. Importantly, it must be discussed and decided early on, if the participants allow the research team to use the data for the demonstration perfuses, and if so to what extent, where and for how long should the data being stored, who has the access to this corpus, and how do the personal right of the participants should be treated.  

Annotation and analysis of the multimodal institutional data 

One of the essential features of numerous institutional contexts is the redirection of attention onto extralinguistic elements like forms, documents or gadgets which is supported by gestures and active forms of expression in conversations partners. These peculiarities of communication can result in the fact that audio recordings will not provide enough evidence to serve the aims of the project. In this case, data annotation and analysis should take the multimodal interaction, interrelation between written and spoken communication, and human-computer interaction into account. In our workshop, some specific tools and resources will be presented along with potential innovative research questions and methods for the analysis of the institutional communication where Digital Humanities can make a great contribution. For example, EXMARALDA allows to annotate linguistic data at multiple linguistic levels, along with eye-contact and gestures of the interlocutors. Praat serves as a great tool for analysing the participants’ prosodic alignment with, for example, clients or colleagues, WebMAUS allows the user to annotate speech and text data automatically, and WebAnno is a helpful tool for the collaborative online annotations. The present-day research proposes various guidelines for the annotation of the non-verbal communication (e.g. cf. Buehrig / Sager 2005), while there are still no conventions for the annotation the multimodal linguistic interaction data (Imo / Lanwer 2019), and no guidelines for the anonymizing personal video data. Therefore, the workshop should also become the platform for sharing, discussing and improving the existing approaches. 


Bührig, Kristin / Kliche, Ortrun / Meyer, Bernd / Pawlack, Birte (2012): „The corpus ‘Interpreting in Hospitals’: Possible applications for research and communication training“, in: Schmidt, Thomas / Wörner, Kai (eds.): Multilingual Corpora and Multilingual Corpus Analysis. Amsterdam: Benjamins 305–315. 

Bührig, Kristin / Sager, Sven F. (eds.) (2005): Nonverbale Kommunikation im Gespräch. Osnabrücker Beiträge zur Sprachtheorie 70. 

Coussios, Georgios / Imo, Wolfgang / Korte, Lisa (2019): Sprechen mit Krebspatienten. Ein gesprächsanalytisch fundiertes Trainingshandbuch für die medizinische Aus- und Weiterbildung. Göttingen: Verlag für Gesprächsforschung. 

Graf, Eva-Maria / Scarvaglieri, Claudio / Spranz-Fogasy, Thomas (eds.) (2019): Pragmatik der Veränderung. Problem- und lösungsorientierte Kommunikation in helfenden Berufen. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. 

Heritage, John / Greatbatch, David (1991): „On the Institutional Character of Institutional Talk: The Case of News Interviews“, in: Boden, Deirdre / Zimmerman, Don H. (eds.): : Talk and Social Structure. Berkeley: University 93-137.

Imo, Wolfgang / Lanwer, Jens Philipp (2019): Interaktionale Linguistik. Eine Einfüührung. Berlin: J. B. Metzler. 

Kliche, Ortrun (2015). Simulationspatienten in der medizinischen Ausbildung. Gesprächsanalytische Untersuchung der Schauspielerleistung am Beispiel von Verstehensäußerungen. Mannheim: Verlag für Gesprächsforschung. 

Schopf, Juliane / Weidner, Beate (i.E.): „Die Vielfalt des Deutschen vermitteln: Lernmaterialien und Ressourcen für einen plurizentrizitätssensiblen DaF-Unterricht“, in: Günther, Susanne / Schopf, Juliane / Weidner, Beate (eds.): Gesprochene Sprache in der kommunikativen Praxis. Analysen authentischer Alltagssprache und ihr Einsatz im DaF-Unterricht. Tübingen: Stauffenburg.