Herbert Clark argues that language use is more than the sum of a speaker speaking and a listener listening. It is the joint action that emerges when speakers and listeners, writers and readers perform their individual actions in coordination, as ensembles. In contrast to work within the cognitive sciences, which has seen language use as an individual process, and to work within the social sciences, which has seen it as a social process, the author argues strongly that language use embodies (...) both individual and social processes. (shrink)
Clark highlights a neglected issue in research on language use: the process by which speakers and addressees anchor utterances with respect to individual entities in their common ground. In his review, he identifies the challenges linked to investigations of anchoring, but also displays the pitfalls of evading it.
Dialogue has its origins in joint activities, which it serves to coordinate. Joint activities, in turn, usually emerge in hierarchically nested projects and subprojects. We propose that participants use dialogue to coordinate two kinds of transitions in these joint projects: vertical transitions, or entering and exiting joint projects; and horizontal transitions, or continuing within joint projects. The participants help signal these transitions with project markers, words such as uh-huh, m-hm, yeah, okay, or all right. These words have been studied mainly (...) as signals of listener feedback (back-channel signals) or turn-taking devices (acknowledgment tokens). We present evidence from several types of well-defined tasks that they are also part of a system of contrasts specialized for navigating joint projects. Uh-huh, m-hm and yeah are used for horizontal transitions, and okay and all right for vertical transitions. (shrink)
In everyday joint activities, people coordinate with each other by means not only of linguistic signals, but also of material signals – signals in which they indicate things by deploying material objects, locations, or actions around them. Material signals fall into two main classes: directing-to and placing-for. In directing-to, people request addressees to direct their attention to objects, events, or themselves. In placing-for, people place objects, actions, or themselves in special sites for addressees to interpret. Both classes have many subtypes. (...) Features of material signals were examined in pairs of people who were videotaped as they assembled TV stands, built Lego models, planned furnishings for a house, played piano duets, or bought coffee at Starbucks. In these activities, the pointing and placements were often sustained, creating three phases of signals – initiation, maintenance, and termination – each with its own interpretation. (shrink)
We take up issues raised in the commentaries about our proposal that social robots are depictions of social agents. Among these issues are the realism of social agents, experiencing robots, communicating with robots, anthropomorphism, and attributing traits to robots. We end with comments about the future of social robots.
Social robots serve people as tutors, caretakers, receptionists, companions, and other social agents. People know that the robots are mechanical artifacts, yet they interact with them as if they were actual agents. How is this possible? The proposal here is that people construe social robots not as social agents per se, but as depictions of social agents. They interpret them much as they interpret ventriloquist dummies, hand puppets, virtual assistants, and other interactive depictions of people and animals. Depictions as a (...) class consist of three physical scenes with part-by-part mappings between them: (a) a base scene (the raw physical artifact), (b) the depiction proper (the artifact construed as a depiction), and (c) the scene depicted (the scene people are to imagine). With social robots, evidence shows people form the same three scenes plus mappings: They perceive the raw machinery of a robot, construe it as a depiction of a character, and, using the depiction as a guide, engage in the pretense that they are interacting with the character depicted. With social robots, people also recognize three classes of agents – the characters depicted, the intended recipients of the depictions (those who view or interact with the robots), and the authorities responsible for the robots (the designers, makers, and owners). Construing social robots as depictions, we argue, accounts for many phenomena not covered by alternative models. (shrink)