Larssyn Staley

Larssyn Staley, MA

Assistant to Prof. Dr. Andreas H. Jucker

Phone: +41 44 634 50 73

Room number: PLH 204


Larssyn studied English Linguistics and Literature at the University of Zurich where, in 2013, she completed her Master’s degree. In 2014 she joined the English Department at the University of Zurich as a research assistant to Andreas H. Jucker. Currently she is working on her doctoral dissertation: Pragmatic Variation in Los Angeles Restaurant Service Encounters



Staley, Larssyn: Review of: Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. The Language of Service Encounters A Pragmatic-Discursive Approach. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015, in Journal of Pragmatics, 2016, pragma.2015.12.007.

Rüegg, Larssyn. (2014). Thanks responses in three socio-economic settings: A variational pragmatics approach. Journal of Pragmatics 71, 17-30.


Pragmatic Variation in Los Angeles Restaurant Service Encounters
Project description

Although the study of sociolinguistic variation on the phonological level has received a great amount of attention since the 1960s, systematic studies of pragmatic variation are rare. The dearth of variationist research on the pragmatic level is the results of three methodological challenges: first, the difficulty in obtaining data from comparable contexts which can be contrasted according to a specific social factor; second, the issue of defining ‘sameness’ and how to identify the variants of pragmatic variables; and third, how to delimit the variable context of pragmatic variables.

To date, much of the work in variational pragmatics has relied on responses to discourse completion tasks in order to ensure comparability of contexts. Studies based on naturally occurring data, however, are necessary in order to show how pragmatic features are used and negotiated by speakers in context.

The data for this study were recorded (with the consent of participants) in Los Angeles restaurants that fall into three different price categories. The restaurant setting provides a context that can be contrasted along the socioeconomic scale while the communicative channel, topics, interactive goals and interlocutor relationship remain the same.

In this study I focus on how differences in the socioeconomic level of a setting affect how roles are negotiated, how offers, advice, suggestions, recommendations and thanks responses are formulated and used as well as how people are addressed. In addition to exploring unresearched areas of variational pragmatics, I also aim to contribute to the discussion on dealing with the methodological challenges in this relatively new field.


Conference papers

Rüegg, Larssyn. (2015, July). “Maybe some dessert this evening? Would you like more wine?” – Negotiating Speech Acts in Three Tiers of Restaurant Service Encounters. Paper presented at the 14th International Pragmatics Conference, Antwerp, Belgium.

Rüegg, Larssyn. (2015, April). Negotiating Pragmatic Force in Restaurant Service Encounters. Paper presented at New Developments in Linguistic Pragmatics, Lodz, Poland.

Rüegg, Larssyn. (2014, October). Terms of Address in three socio-economic settings: A variational pragmatic perspective. Paper presented at the American Pragmatics Associations 2 conference (AMPRA2), Los Angeles, California.

Rüegg, Larssyn and Michelle Buado. (2014, April) “Um, so I’ll be thorough and painless and tell you what’s really good” Planners in three socio-economic settings. Paper presented as Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change 2 (DiPVaC2), Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Rüegg, Larssyn. (2013, June). “We doin some sugar?" Offers in Three Socio-economic Settings. Paper presented at the Second Bonn Applied English Linguistics Conference (BAELc2), Bonn, Germany.



IPrA: International Pragmatics Association

DiPVaC: Discourse-Pragmatic Variation and Change 

SAUTE: Swiss Association for the University Teachers of English

SWELL: Swiss Works in English Language and Linguistics