Understanding dialogue: Language use and social interaction - Speaker: Martin Pickering

Understanding dialogue: Language use and social interaction

Martin Pickering

University of Edinburgh, Department of Psychology

I present a theory of dialogue as a form of cooperative joint activity.  Dialogue is treated as a system involving two interlocutors and a shared workspace that contains their contributions and relevant non-linguistic context.  The interlocutors construct shared plans and use them to “post” contributions to the workspace, to comprehend joint contributions, and to distribute control of the dialogue between them.  A fundamental part of this process is to simulate their partner’s contributions and to use it to predict the upcoming state of the shared workspace.  As a consequence, they align their linguistic representations and their representations of the situation and of the “games” underlying successful communication.  The shared workspace is a highly limited resource, and the interlocutors use their aligned representations to say just enough and to speak in good time.  I end by applying the account beyond the “minimal dyad” to augmented dialogue, multi-party dialogue, and monologue.

This talk represents joint work with Simon Garrod and is based on our new book.

Pickering, M.J., & Garrod, S. (2021).  Understanding dialogue: Language use and social interaction.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://services.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/languages-linguistics/psycholinguistics-and-neurolinguistics/understanding-dialogue-language-use-and-social-interaction?format=HB&isbn=9781108473613