On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Linguistic Feedback

Journal of Semantics 9 (1):1-26 (1992)
Abstract
This paper is an exploration in the semantics and pragmatics of linguistic feedback, i. e. linguistic mechanisms which enable the participants in spoken interaction to exchange information about basic communicative functions, such as contact, perception, understanding, and attitudinal reactions to the communicated content. Special attention is given to the type of reaction conveyed by feedback utterances, the communicative status of the information conveyed (i. e. the level of awareness and intentionality of the communicating sender), and the context sensitivity of feedback expressions. With regard to context sensitivty, which is one of the most characteristic features of feedback expressions, the discussion focuses on the way in which the type of speech act (mood), the factual polarity, and the information status of the preceding utterance influence the interpretation of feedback utterances. The different content dimensions are exemplified by data from recorded dialogues and by data given through linguistic intuition. Finally, two different ways of formalizing the analysis are examined, one using attribute-value matrices and one based on the theory of situation semantics
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