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Language as Mechanisms for Interaction

  • Ruth Kempson EMAIL logo , Ronnie Cann , Eleni Gregoromichelaki and Stergios Chatzikyriakidis
From the journal Theoretical Linguistics

Abstract

Language use is full of subsentential shifts of context, a phenomenon dramatically illustrated in conversation where non-sentential utterances displaying seamless shifts between speaker/hearer roles appear regularly. The hurdle this poses for standard assumptions is that every local linguistic dependency can be distributed across speakers, with the content of what they are saying and the significance of each conversational move emerging incrementally. Accordingly, we argue that the modelling of a psychologically-realistic grammar necessitates recasting the notion of natural language in terms of our ability for interaction with others and the environment, abandoning the competence-performance dichotomy as standardly envisaged. We sketch Dynamic Syntax, a model in which underspecification and incremental time-relative update is central, showing how interactive effects of conversation follow directly. Finally, we note the changing cognitive-science horizons to be explored once a language-as-action view is adopted.

List of Symbols

Immediately dominates

Immediately dominated by

0

Argument daughter

1

Functor daughter

Dominates

Dominated by

L

The LINK modality

L1

Inverse LINK modality

Ty()

Type label

?Ty(x)

Requirement for formula of type x

Fo()

Formula label

e

Type of individual entity

es

Type of situation entity

t

Type of proposition

?x.Fo(x)

Formula requirement

Tn(n)

Treenode label with values in the language {0,1}

?x.Tn(x)

Treenode address requirement

U,V

Metavariables

WH

Specialised interrogative metavariable

The “pointer”.

Acknowledgments

There are many who deserve our thanks for ongoing work on the Dynamic Syntax framework; but our particular, fervent thanks go to those involved in work done on The Dynamics of Conversational Dialogue ESRC-RES-062-23-0962, on which the results reported here are grounded: Arash Eshghi, Patrick Healey, Christine Howes, Julian Hough, Wilfried Meyer-Viol, Gregory Mills, Matthew Purver, and Graham White. The last author gratefully acknowledges support from the Vetenskapsrådet, project 2014–39, as well as the ANR ContInt Polymnie project in France (ANR-12-CORD-0004).

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Published in Print: 2016-10-1

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