Abstract Ye Tian 17 October 2016
When do we laugh
Dr Ye Tian, Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7)
Abstract: Studies on laughter in dialogue have proposed resolving what laughter is about by looking at what laughter follows, even though this assumption has not been tested. We investigated the sequential relation between the laughable and the laughter, as well as proposing a semantic/pragmatic account in which laughter is treated as a gestural event anaphor referring to a laughable; the laughable is a described, metalinguistic or exophoric event which, upon appraisal, triggers a positive psychological shift in the laugher. Using a natural dialogue corpus (DUEL) in French and Chinese, we coded the position and content of the laughable, and analyzed laughter using a multi-layered system, including classifications relating to its form, its semantic meaning and its function. We found that contrary to popular belief, the time alignment between laughter and laughable is rather free. Only 30% of laughters immediately follow the laughable. Laughter can occur (long) before, during, or (long) after the laughable. We also found that the functions of laughter can be predicted by a cluster of contextual and form-based features, making it possible to generate laughter at appropriate moments in dialogue systems.
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