Can I Say “Bububu”? Discourse Context and Meaning Construction

Eszter Kárpáti, Judit Kleiber


This paper investigates how discourse context and dialogue goals within a discourse influence interpretation. Discourse context can be seen as a maze of lexical meanings surrounded by multitude of contextual information (infons) (cf. Wittgenstein 1958/1986, 8). This analysis tries to unweave these infons as it is a practical application of the dynamic semantic model of ÂeALIS (Alberti and Kleiber 2014). Making an interview with a patient who had surgery before, we were interested in her information management during her dialogues with her doctors. The starting point of our analysis was that when a problem occurs, we set goals to solve it. A discourse starts when the goal is set, and stops when it is fulfilled. A discourse usually has segments. Discourse coherence depends on whether these segments are relevant or not. In our interview the segments were (consecutive) dialogues forming one coherent discourse for the interviewee. Our results indicate that ÂeALIS is capable of capturing the pieces of information concerning the interlocutors’ mental states (beliefs, desires, intentions) along which coherence is created in a discourse process. We found that in a discourse, a new discourse step would follow only when—as closing one dialogue —the discourse agent’s mental state has changed. This mental state is also influenced by infons that are present in the discourse context, but are not parts of the dialogues. With this type of analysis we aim to show a line through which pragmatics can be accessible from a ÂeALIStic point of view.


discourse context; mental states; eALIS; pragmatics; dynamic semantics

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