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IMC Seminar Series

SemDial comes to London

13 September 2012 ENG 209 1.00-2.30pm

Nicola Plant will be presenting The Use of Gesture to Communicate about Felt Experiences by Nicola Plant and Pat Healey

When people describe the character of felt experiences such as a headache they can use their bodies as a resource to help them communicate. It has been proposed that when speakers use gestures, pose and facial expressions to describe an experience their listeners simulate or mimic these cues in order to help them understand the character the experience. We test this model using data from dyadic conversations in a laboratory setting. The results show that listeners do not normally match the expressive gestures that speakers use in describing their experiences and that while speakers gesture more strongly for more negative experiences their listeners do not. Rather than re-creating the speaker’s experience through mimicry, listener gestures appear to be used primarily for engaging with the concrete particulars of an experience and not its ‘subjective’ effects.

Saul Albert will be presenting The Pragmatics of Aesthetic Assessment in Conversation

Judgements of taste are an intrinsic part of everyday conversational interactions: people make assessments and agree and disagree with them as a core part of how they participate in activities, create and share knowledge, and manage their relationships with one another. However, these conversational assessments can seem resistant to some forms of analysis in ways that are summed up neatly in the Scholastic idiom "there's no accounting for taste".

This paper approaches the difficulty of analysing judgements of taste in dialogue by looking at them in terms of the pragmatics of talk-in-interaction. An as-yet-unanalysed example of a conversation about an artwork is drawn from Anita Pomerantz' seminal Conversation Analytic (CA) paper on conversational assessments, and examined in order to build up a picture of the mechanisms people use when making aesthetic assessments.

This analysis suggests that seemingly high-level aesthetic judgements are accomplished using the same ordinary mechanisms of conversational assessment ubiquitous in everyday talk. Some curious features of topic shifting within assessments are discussed, highlighting some methodological issues for this use of CA, and further research into naturalistic aesthetic assessment is proposed.

Julian Hough will be presenting Processing Self-Repairs in an Incremental Type-Theoretic Dialogue System by Julian Hough and Matthew Purver

We present a novel incremental approach to modelling self-repair phenomena in dialogue, using the grammar and parsing mechanism of Dynamic Syntax (DS) to construct Type Theory with Records (TTR) record type representations incrementally in both parsing and generation. We demonstrate how a DS-TTR hybrid implementation when integrated into an incremental dialogue system can be exploited to account for the semantic processing of self-repair phenomena in a unified way and in line with psycholinguistic evidence.

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