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On incrementality in dialogue: Evidence from compound contributions

  • Howes, Christine
  • Purver, Matthew
  • Healey, Patrick G. T.
  • Mills, Greg J.
  • Gregoromichelaki, Eleni
Abstract:
Spoken contributions in dialogue often continue or complete earlier contributions by either the same or a different speaker. These compound contributions (CCs) thus provide a natural context for investigations of incremental processing in dialogue. We present a corpus study which confirms that CCs are a key dialogue phenomenon: almost 20% of contributions fit our general definition of CCs, with nearly 3% being the cross-person case most often studied. The results suggest that processing is word-by-word incremental, as splits can occur within syntactic ‘constituents’; however, some systematic differences between same-and cross-person cases indicate important dialogue-specific pragmatic effects. An experimental study then investigates these effects by artificially introducing CCs into multi-party text dialogue. Results suggest that CCs affect people’s expectations about who will speak next and whether other participants have formed a coalition or ‘party’. Together, these studies suggest that CCs require an incremental processing mechanism that can provide a resource for constructing linguistic constituents that span multiple contributions and multiple participants. They also suggest the need to model higher-level dialogue units that have consequences for the organisation of turn-taking and for the development of a shared context.
Research areas:
Year:
2011
Type of Publication:
Article
Journal:
Dialogue and Discourse
Volume:
2
Number:
1
Pages:
279-311
ISSN:
2152-9620
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