Multifunctionality in dialogue

Harry Bunt
2011 Computer Speech and Language  
This paper studies the multifunctionality of dialogue utterances, i.e. the phenomenon that utterances in dialogue often have more than one communicative function. It is argued that this phenomenon can be explained by analyzing the participation in dialogue as involving the performance of several types of activity in parallel, relating to different dimensions of communication. The multifunctionality of dialogue utterances is studied by (1) redefining the notion of 'utterance' in a rigorous
more » ... (calling the revised notion 'functional segment'), and (2) empirically investigating the multifunctionality of functional segments in a corpus of dialogues, annotated with a rich, multidimensional annotation schema. It is shown that, when communicative functions are assigned to functional segments, thereby eliminating every form of segmentation-related multifunctionality, an average multifunctionality is found between 1.8 and 3.6, depending on what is considered to count as a segment's communicative function. Moreover, a good understanding of the nature of the relations among the various multiple functions that a segment may have, and how functional segments relate to other units in dialogue segmentation, opens the way for defining a multidimensional computational update semantics for dialogue interpretation.
doi:10.1016/j.csl.2010.04.006 fatcat:kovko4o7snbjfdpeuunwr2xh2i