Accessibility and Attention in Situated Dialogue: Roles and Regulations

Ellen Bard, Robin Hill, Manabu Arai , Mary Ellen Foster

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Accessibility theory (Ariel, 1988; Gundel, Hedberg, & Zacharski, 1993) proposes that the grammatical form of referring expression depends on the accessibility of its referent, with greater accessibility permitting more reduced expressions. This paper presents evidence discriminating between Realist and Declarative views of how accessibility will be determined. First, it presents a corpus study of first mentions of on-screen objects produced during a joint construction task. As the Declarative view suggests, elaboration of referring expressions is not controlled only by real local circumstances but instead differs with the assigned ability of interlocutors to declare how the dialogue will proceed. Second, it shows that speakers’ visual attention around such expressions supports the same model. The context of a joint physical task does automatically align players’ attention. Instead, players who declare accessibility inappropriate to their listeners’ perspectives align attention poorly, while those whose expressions show better design, have gaze patterns predictable from accessibility theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPRE-CogSci 2009
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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