Paper: Two Constraints On Speech Act Ambiguity

ACL ID P89-1026
Title Two Constraints On Speech Act Ambiguity
Venue Annual Meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1989

Existing plan-based theories of speech act interpretation do not account for the conventional aspect of speech acts. We use patterns of linguistic features (e.g. mood, verb form, sentence adverbials, thematic roles) to suggest a range of speech act interpretations for the utterance. These are filtered using plan-bused conversational implicatures to eliminate inappropriate ones. Extended plan reasoning is available but not necessary for familiar forms. Taking speech act ambiguity seriously, with these two constraints, explains how "Can you pass the salt"? is a typical indirect request while "Are you able to pass the salt"? is not. 1. The Problem Full natural language systems must recognize speakers' intentions in an utterance. They must know when the speaker is asserting, asking, or making ...