New York:

Martin Pichering

Martin Pickering is a Professor of the Psychology of Language and Communication at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on the representation and processing of language and, in particular, on the mechanisms underlying dialogue as a form of joint action. He has published more than 170 journal articles on such topics as language comprehension during reading, self-monitoring during speech, language switching in bilinguals, and turn-taking in language and music. He served as editor of the Journal of Memory and Language, was recipient of the Experimental Psychology Society mid-career award, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Keynote lecture
Understanding dialogue: Language use and social interaction
Martin Pickering
Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK


I present a theory of dialogue as a form of cooperative joint activity.  Dialogue is treated as a system involving two interlocutors and a shared workspace that contains their contributions and relevant non-linguistic context.  The interlocutors construct shared plans and use them to “post” contributions to the workspace, to comprehend joint contributions, and to distribute control of the dialogue between them.  A fundamental part of this process is to simulate their partner's contributions and to use it to predict the upcoming state of the shared workspace.  As a consequence, they align their linguistic representations and their representations of the situation and of the "games" underlying successfulcommunication.  The shared workspace is a highly limited resource, and the interlocutors use their aligned representations to say just enough and to speak in good time.  I end by applying the account beyond the "minimal dyad" to augmented dialogue, multi party dialogue, and monologue.

This talk represents joint work with Simon Garrod and is based on our new book

Pickering, M.J., Garrod, S. 2021.  Understanding dialogue: Language use and social interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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