Gisladottir, R. S., Chwilla, D., Schriefers, H., & Levinson, S. C. (2012). Speech act recognition in conversation: Experimental evidence. In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, & R. P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1596-1601). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from http://mindmodeling.org/cogsci2012/papers/0282/index.html.
Recognizing the speech acts in our interlocutors’ utterances is a crucial
prerequisite for conversation. However, it is not a trivial task given that the form and content of utterances is frequently underspecified for this level of meaning. In the present study we investigate participants’
competence in categorizing speech acts in such action-underspecific
sentences and explore the time-course of speech act inferencing using a
self-paced reading paradigm. The results demonstrate that participants are able to categorize the speech acts with very high accuracy, based on
limited context and without any prosodic information. Furthermore, the
results show that the exact same sentence is processed differently
depending on the speech act it performs, with reading times starting to differ already at the first word. These results indicate that participants are very good at “getting” the speech acts, opening up a new arena for experimental research on action recognition in conversation.