Semantic analysis of interaction and coordination in dialogue

VR project 2009-1569, 2010-2012

Robin Cooper, University of Gothenburg
Jonathan Ginzburg, King's College London
Staffan Larsson, University of Gothenburg

The aim of the project is to integrate aspects of traditional model theoretic semantics developed in the main for sentence semantics and discourse with recent developments in dialogue analysis.  The project aims to give a theoretical account of how dialogue participants manage to remain coordinated during relatively intricate linguistic interaction. We aim to synthesize work on a key mechanism of interaction,  namely repair – clarification questions (CQs), self-corrections, hesitations etc – with work in formal semantics that has modelled many of the central elements of natural language meaning, such as quantifier terms, anaphora, and attitude reports. This is a two way street: the perspective from interaction will provide useful extra cognitively--based evidence for the field of semantics -- a domain overfull with theories underdetermined by evidence, while helping solve age--old puzzles; conversely, in tackling the intricate linguistic phenomena analyzed by semanticists theories of interaction can aspire to provide comprehensive theories of cognition.  We will focus on dialogic aspects of some classical concerns of formal semantics: quantification, anaphora and intensionality.

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