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Do Dialogues Have Content?

Conference paper
Authors Staffan Larsson
Published in Sylvain Pogodalla and Jean-Philippe Prost, eds: Proceedings of Logical Aspects of Computational Linguistics (LACL 2011), Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
Volume 6736
ISBN 978-3-642-22221-4
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Language en
Subject categories Languages and Literature, Linguistics, Cognitive science, Language Technology (Computational Linguistics), Theoretical philosophy, Practical philosophy


In this paper, the notion of “the content of a dialogue” is shown to be problematic in light of the phenomena of semantic coordination in dialogue, and the associated notion of semantic plasticity – the ability of meanings to change as a result of language use. Specifically, it appears that any notion of content in dialogue based on classical modeltheoretical semantics will be insufficient for capturing semantic plasticity. An alternative formal semantics, type theory with records (TTR) is briefly introduced and is show to be better equipped to deal with semantic coordination and plasticity. However, it is also argued that any account of content in dialogue which takes semantic coordination seriously will also need to consider the problems it raises for some concepts central to traditional notions of meaning, namely inference and truth.

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