Semantic coordination in dialogue: miscommunication drives abstraction
Gregory Mills, University of Groningen.
One of the central findings in research on the emergence of communication systems is that interlocutors rapidly converge on a shared set of contracted referring expressions (Krauss and Weinheimer, 1966; Clark, 1996; Galantucci, 2005). To investigate in closer detail how referential coordination develops, we report a variant of the “maze task” (Pickering and Garrod, 2004). Participants communicate with each other via an experimental chat tool (Mills and Healey, 2006), which interferes with the unfolding dialogue by inserting artificial signals of miscommunication that appear, to participants, as if they originate from each other. Participants who received clarification requests performed better at the task, and converged more rapidly on more abstract and more systematized referring expressions. This talk will demonstrate how this beneficial effect is due to the amplification of naturally occurring miscommunication: abstraction and systematicity of communication systems is driven by interlocutors identifying, diagnosing and resolving problematic understanding.