Prof. Dr. Paulo Cortes Gago

CV Lattes

Doctorate degree

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), 2002. Supervisor: Maria do Carmo Leite de Oliveira. Thesis: The relevance of convergence in a context of negotiation: the case study of a business meeting in the Portuguese culture.


Language and society; Pragmatics; Conversation analysis; Interactional Sociolinguistics; Discourse Analysis; Language, institutions, and professional practices; Third-party intervention in conflict situations; psychiatric interviews; classroom interaction.

Ongoing research project

Formulation practices in judicial family mediation (CNPq – 2013-2016).

This project investigates an interactional practice which takes place in the entire realm of human language use: formulation. Garfinkel & Sacks, in their seminal text “Ethnomethodology”, published in the 1970s, define it as “interlocutors’ practice(s) of saying-in-such-words-what-we-are-doing” (1972, p. 171). The definition comprises two meanings: 1) when someone, for instance, asks “are you threatening me?”, thus venturing a reading of what has just been implied; or 2) when a mediator, in our data, hands back a certain utterance which had been produced in the pre-mediation interview to its original speaker: “[you are trying to say that Mr. Amir is a great actor↓”. In both cases, formulation attempts to (re)establish intersubjectivity in conversation and it is a way for participants to gauge what is happening in the here-and-now of interaction. One noteworthy aspect is that, in professional contexts, formulation is used for specific contexts, related to the institution’s end-task. In the case of family judicial mediation, most manuals and texts produced by mediation participants (e.g. AZEVEDO, 2009; SAMPAIO & BRAGA NETO, 2007; SOUSA, 2007) employ the word “tool” to refer to the activities of recontextualizing, paraphrasing and summarizing, other (non-interactional) ways of referring to formulation, and give them a prominent position in mediation, such as the one occupied by the figure of the mediator, who will enable the development of changes towards conflict overcoming and a possible agreement. As a research topic, meditation itself is made relevant due to the high value ascribed to self-compositional ways of conflict resolution in the contemporary world, such as mediation, reconciliation, assisted negotiation etc. Our intention is to cast an interactional glance over the data of judicial family mediation, i.e., the one occurring in the midst of a judicial process, in order to map the functions of formulation in such contexts and to relate formulation to the mediator’s professional practice. Our project focuses on the theory’s starting point, its immediate repercussions (HERITAGE & WATSON, 1979, 1980; HERITAGE, 1985), as well as its more recent re-descriptions (e.g. BILMES, 2011) in terms of the differences in (re)formulation, in the scope of Ethnomethodological Conversational Analysis. This research operates within the language-institutions-professions interface and embodies an applied nature, with a view to promoting change in the investigated professional context. Our database currently comprises about 800 minutes of audio-recorded data. We believe that formulation practices may be of interest to graduate and undergraduate students in a myriad of professional contexts, including the classroom, Applied Linguistics’ traditional research locus.

This project is linked to the Centre of Studies in Discourses and Society (NUDES). Núcleo de Estudos sobre Discursos e Sociedades (NUDES).