Towards a Computational Pragmatics for Non-Cooperative Dialogue [PhD Probation Report]

Plüss, Brian (2009). Towards a Computational Pragmatics for Non-Cooperative Dialogue [PhD Probation Report]. Technical Report 2009/13; Department of Computing, The Open University.



Most work in linguistics has approached dialogue on the assumption that participants share a common goal and cooperate to achieve it by means of conversation. In computational linguistics this assumption is even stronger. For instance, most dialogue systems rely on the interlocutor's full cooperation to model interaction. The research described here is aimed at the other cases, at those escaping the norms. Failure to cooperate can happen for many reasons. A non-native speaker trying to engage in a complex discussion might provide contributions which are not as clear and precise as would be expected. A student not quite sure about the topic he is supposed to elaborate on in an oral examination might provide information which is not entirely truthful or relevant. Someone suffering from dementia might produce utterances which are irrelevant or uninformative for the current exchange. These examples have to do with incompetence, ignorance and irrationality, all of which lie outside the scope of our study. We will focus on situations in which non-cooperative conversational behaviour is rational, competent and well-informed. This report is part of the first-year probation assessment for a full-time Ph.D. programme. It provides details about the proposed research question, a review of the relevant literature, the proposed research methodology and a work plan.

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