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11 March 2010

Incrementality, Alignment and Split Utterances

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Dr Matthew Purver - Queen Mary University - London

In 2004, Ruth Kempson & I suggested that an inherently incremental grammar formalism like Dynamic Syntax (DS; Kempson et al 2001) could allow a straightforward characterisation of the common dialogue phenomenon of *split utterances* - utterances started by one speaker, and continued by another - while also accounting for some syntactic alignment phenomena into the bargain. We didn't give much detail, though. Over the last two years, a joint QMUL/KCL project has been looking at how to go about doing that, and at what details actually need to be accounted for. I'll present some empirical findings - evidence from corpus data and experiments with human subjects - into the nature of split utterances, and the presence (or, indeed, absence) of syntactic alignment in natural conversation. I'll then outline some recent extensions to DS using Type Theory with Records (as used by e.g. Cooper 1998) which allow it to deal with some of the necessary details, and allow connections with approaches to dialogue modelling such as (Ginzburg & Cooper, 2004) and (Asher & Lascarides, 2003). This talk presents joint work with Pat Healey, Ruth Kempson and several other colleagues at Queen Mary and King's College London. Bio: Matthew Purver is a lecturer in the Computer Science Department at Queen Mary, University of London; his research interests lie in the semantics and pragmatics of dialogue. From 2004-2008 he was a researcher at CSLI, Stanford, working on dialogue systems, both for human-computer interaction and for the automatic understanding of natural human-human dialogue. His PhD thesis (2004, King's College London) examined the nature of clarification requests in dialogue.

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Contact: mailto:r.power@open.ac.uk