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Exploring the Psychological Reality of Conversational Implicatures. Thomas Holtgraves Dept. of Psychological Science Ball State University. Some Basic Issues : Do recipients generate conversational implicatures? When are they generated? How are they generated?

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exploring the psychological reality of conversational implicatures

Exploring the Psychological Reality of Conversational Implicatures

Thomas Holtgraves

Dept. of Psychological Science

Ball State University

slide3

Some Basic Issues:

Do recipients generate conversational implicatures?

When are they generated?

How are they generated?

Which implicatures are generated?

Do some people fail to generate implicatures?

types of conversational meaning grice 1975
Types of Conversational Meaning (Grice, 1975)
  • Generalized implicatures
    • Context independent
  • Particularized implicatures
    • Context dependent
generalized implicatures
Generalized Implicatures
  • Idioms – He spilled the beans
  • Conventional Indirect Requests – Could you open the door?
  • Q-implicatures – Some of the students passed
  • Illocutionary Force – actions performed with talk
    • Promise (I’ll definitely have it done tomorrow) etc.
speech act processing
Speech Act Processing
  • Is speech act recognition involved in utterance comprehension?
    • Necessary? (Not according to relevance theory)
    • Good enough processing
    • On-line or post-hoc?
  • Do speech acts play a role in conversation memory?
slide7

Speech Act Activation Experiments

(Holtgraves & Ashley, 2001; Holtgraves, 2008)

Jenny and Emily had been close friends since grade

school.

Now there were rooming together at college.

Emily was very forgetful.

Today, Jenny was sure Emily didn’t remember her

dentist appointment.

slide11

Sample Experimental Materials

Jenny and Emily had been close friends since grade School.

Now there were rooming together at college.

Emily was very forgetful.

Today, Jenny was sure Emily didn’t remember (had forgotten) her

dentist appointment.

Jenny: Don’t forget (I’ll bet you forgot) to go to your

dentist appointment today.

Probe: Remind

sample target utterances
Sample Target Utterances
  • Directives

Encourage: Don’t stop now. You can do it.

  • Assertives

Blame: It’s all Mary’s fault.

  • Expressives

Apologize: I’m so sorry that I ruined your shirt.

  • Commissives

Promise: I swear I’ll be neater after the weekend.

speech acts and memory holtgraves 2008
Speech Acts and MemoryHoltgraves (2008)
  • Participants read scenarios/utterances
    • Speech act/control versions
    • Rated scenarios (incidental memory)
    • Intervening task (recall states)
  • Memory test
    • Recognition (exps 1 & 2) or Recall (exp 3)
speech act recognition in parkinson s disease holtgraves mcnamara 2010
Speech Act Recognition in Parkinson’s Disease (Holtgraves & McNamara, 2010)

People with Parkinson’s disease (N = 28) and age matched controls (N = 32) performed lexical decision task following speech act/control scenarios (rewritten for PD).

- Assess PD severity

- Assess executive function (stroop task)

lateralization
Lateralization
  • Role of right hemisphere (RH) in pragmatics
    • Evidence from RHD participants (poor at recognizing nonliteral meanings)
  • Speech Act Comprehension materials
    • Lateralize targets to RVF/LH or LVF/RH
particularized implicatures
Particularized Implicatures
  • No preferred reading out of context
  • Recipients engage in time-consuming inferential processing
  • Example: Violations of the Relation Maxim
  • Which inference will be generated?
particularized implicatures24
Particularized Implicatures

Inference based on perceived reason for violation

Relevance violations occur because of face management

Recipients realize this and use it as an interpretive frame

In general, relevance violations should be interpreted as conveying negative information

sample scenarios questions and replies holtgraves 1997 1998
Sample Scenarios, Questions, and RepliesHoltgraves, 1997; 1998
  • Opinion Scenario
  • Nick and Paul are taking the same History class. Students in this class have to give a 20 presentation to the class on some topic. Nick gave his presentation and then decided to ask Paul what he thought of it
  • Nick: What did you think of my presentation?
  • Paul: It’s hard to give a good presentation.
  • Paraphrase: I didn’t like your presentation.
sample scenarios questions and replies holtgraves 1997 199826
Sample Scenarios, Questions, and RepliesHoltgraves, 1997; 1998

Self-Disclosure Scenario

Bob and Andy are good friends. This semester Bob is taking introductory Chemistry and Andy wants to know how is doing in the course.

Nick: How are you doing in chemistry?

Paul: Chemistry is a very difficult course.

Paraphrase: I’m not doing well in chemistry.

relevance violation experiments
Relevance Violation Experiments
  • Participants read scenarios, questions and replies
  • Three types of scenarios: negative, positive, no information
  • Judge negative interpretation paraphrase
  • Judgment, judgment speed, reply comprehension speed examined
perspective and particularized implicatures
Perspective and Particularized Implicatures
  • Recipient’s perspective
    • Relevance violations as face management
      • Interpret as conveying negative information
  • Speaker’s perspective
    • Other reasons for relevance violations
      • Question not understood
      • Speaker doesn’t have opinion
  • Speaker-Hearer divergence in interpretation (Particularized only)
perspective and particularized implicatures31
Perspective and Particularized Implicatures
  • Read Scenarios, Questions, and Replies
  • Adopt perspective of Speaker (Taking Bob’s perspective, do you think Bob wanted Andy to believe ..) or Recipient (Taking Andy’s perspective, do you think Andy would interpret Bob’s reply as meaning….)
    • Between-Participants and Within-Participants
    • Forced choice and open-ended
future directions
Future Directions
  • Face management and interpretation of uncertainty terms
    • Quantifiers (some) Some liked/hated your party
    • Probability terms (possibly) It’s possible you have deafness/insomnia
    • Evaluative terms (like) I liked the meal (in response to a query from the cook or someone else)
    • Self disclosure: It’s possible I/Jack scratched your car
    • Self report: I will drink some beers/steal some cars.