Self-authorizing action: On let me X in English social interaction

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This article contributes to conversation analytic research on the formatting of imperative actions by focusing on the English first person imperative let me/lemme X as it appears in a range of naturally occurring interactions. I argue that lemme X is a practice for displacing what was projectably relevant in a given environment in favor of a self-authorized action. This as a result tends to advance the speaker's interests/initiatives. The analysis accounts for speakers' apparent presumption of permission in unilaterally undertaking their lemme X action by reference to the placement, design, and subsequent orientations to the self-authorized action. The construction is discussed in terms of the distribution of agency and it is suggested that lemme X is particularly suited to advancing activities that favor autonomous action by the speaker and which involve the recipient only minimally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-118
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • agency
  • Conversation analysis
  • directives
  • English
  • imperatives


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