Topoi

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 63–73 | Cite as

Dialogue representation

  • Ruth Manor
Article

Abstract

We consider question-answer dialogues between participants who may disagree with each other. The main problems are: (a) How different speech-acts affect the information in the dialogue; and (b) How to represent what was said in a dialogue, so that we can summarize it even when it involves disagreements (i.e., inconsistencies).

We use a fully-typed many-sorted language L with a possible-worlds semantics. L contains nominals representing ‘short answers’. The speech-acts are uniformly represented in a dialogue language DL by ‘focus structures’, consisting of a mood operator, a topic component and a focus component. Each stage of the dialogue is associated with a set of ‘information functions’ (g-functions), which are partial functions taking a topic component (representing a question raised) to a set of propositions determined by the corresponding focus component (to the set of answers given to it).

Asserting is answering a question and, hence, it causes a new g-function to be defined. Asking is an attempt to cause the hearer to define a new g-function satisfying certain conditions. A question asked requests a true and complete answer. A reaction answers a question if it satisfies some of the conditions of the question. Indirect questions are viewed as indirect answers.

A dialogue representation consists of: commitment sets, each representing the commitments expressed by one participant; sets of ‘questions under discussion’ associated with each stage of the dialogue, and the common ground, containing the g-functions and representing consistently what was said in the dialogue.

Concepts of informativeness are naturally defined within the theory. Whether an utterance is informative depends on which question it answers and how the question was answered previously. These concepts yield that uttering mathematical and logical truths is as informative as uttering a contingency.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aqvist, L. E.: 1965, A New Approach to the Logical Theory of Interrogatives, Part I, Filosofiska Foreningen, Almqvist & Wiksel, Uppsala.Google Scholar
  2. Batens, D.: 1982, ‘Dynamic Dialectical Logics’, Mimeographed.Google Scholar
  3. Belnap, N. D.: 1977, ‘A Useful Four-valued Logic’, J. M. Dunn and G. Epstein (eds.), Modern Uses of Multiple Valued Logic, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  4. Belnap, N. D. and Steel, T. B.: 1976, The Logic of Questions and Answers, Yale University, New Haven and London.Google Scholar
  5. Collingwood, R. G.: 1939, An Autobiography, Oxford University, Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Collingwood, R. G.: 1940, An Essay on Metaphysics, Oxford University, Oxford.Google Scholar
  7. Dretske, F. I.: 1972, ‘Contrastive Statements’, Philosophical Review 81, 411–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grice, P.: 1975, ‘Logic and Conversation’, P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics, vol. 3, Academic Press, New York, pp. 41–58.Google Scholar
  9. Grosz, B. J.: 1981, ‘Focusing and Description in Natural Language Dialogue’, A. K. Joshi, B. L. Webber and I. A. Saag (eds.), Elements of Discourse Understanding, Cambridge University Press, pp. 84–105.Google Scholar
  10. Hamblin, C. L.: 1970, Fallacies, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  11. Hintikka, J.: 1976, The Semantics of Questions and Questions of Semantics, Acta Philosophica Fennica, Vol. 28, 4, Helsinki, Finland.Google Scholar
  12. Kamp, H.: 1984, ‘Discourse Representation’, S. Peters (ed), Situations in Discourse, Technical Report of the Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University California.Google Scholar
  13. Karttunen, L.: 1978, ‘Syntax and Semantics of Questions’, in H. Hiż (ed.), Questions, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  14. Manor, R.: 1975, ‘On Propositional Commitment and Presupposition’, American Philosophical Quarterly 12, 141–149.Google Scholar
  15. Manor, R.: 1976, ‘An Analysis of a Speech’, Theoretical Linguistics 3, 125–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Manor, R.: 1982a, ‘Answers and other reactions’, Theoretical Linguistics 9, 69–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Manor, R.: 1982b, ‘Pragmatics and the logics of questions and assertions’, Philosophica 29, 45–95.Google Scholar
  18. Manor, R.: 1983, ‘Representing Dialogues’, Working Papers of the Sonderforschungsbereich 99, No. 82, Konstanz.Google Scholar
  19. Reinhart, T.: 1981, ‘Pragmatics and Linguistics: An Analysis of Sentence Topics’, Philosophica 28.Google Scholar
  20. Rescher, N. and R. Manor: 1970, ‘On Inferences from Inconsistent Premisses’, Theory and Decision 1, 179–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stalnaker, R. C.: 1978, ‘Assertion’, in P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 9, Academic Press, New York, pp. 315–332.Google Scholar
  22. Stechow, A. V.: 1980, ‘Notes on Topic and Focus of Interrogatives and Indicatives’, Working Papers of the Sonderforschungsbereich 99, No. 45, Konstanz.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Manor
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhilosophyTel-Aviv UniversityRamat-AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations