How Languages Deal with Requests, Especially within Mandarin Chinese

Our project explored how individuals communicate in task-oriented dialogues. Linguists have long studied stories and narratives, but some important features of language emerge only when speakers have joint intentions and share a common visual ground. Not only did we study how listeners recover linguistic representations, but also to what degree speakers and listeners align such representations using dialogue. All this revealed language "in action" and allowed us to analyze utterances beyond the sentence boundary in naturally occurring dialogues, from an experimental and from a computational perspective. We had already assembled data on such dialogical interaction in English and Spanish, and we expanded our study to Turkish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Mayan languages. Our undergraduate assistants worked closely with Maria Polinsky and her postdoctoral fellows and other researchers in the lab in the methodology of this research.

  • Sponsoring Faculty Member: Maria Polinsky
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars: Conor Walsh, Lili Kocsis, Siena Rosemarie Leslie, Ian Clark