Carving language for social coordination: A dynamical approach

Interaction Studies 13 (1):103-124 (2012)
Abstract
Human social coordination is often mediated by language. Through verbal dialogue, people direct each other's attention to properties of their shared environment, they discuss how to jointly solve problems, share their introspections, and distribute roles and assignments. In this article, we propose a dynamical framework for the study of the coordinative role of language. Based on a review of a number of recent experimental studies, we argue that shared symbolic patterns emerge and stabilize through a process of local reciprocal linguistic alignment. Such patterns in turn come to facilitate and refine social coordination by enabling the alignment, joint construction and navigation of conceptual models and actions. Implications of the framework are illustrated and discussed in relation to a case study where dyads of interlocutors interact verbally to reach joint decisions in a perceptual discrimination task. Keywords: social coordination; language; communication; linguistic alignment; symbolic patterns; affordances; emergence; evolution; adaptivity; interaction
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