SPAGAD 4: Sequencing and Referencing Speech Acts

Organisator(en) Anton Benz, Friederike Buch & Marvin Schmitt
Veranstaltungsbeginn 25.11.2021, 16.00 Uhr
Veranstaltungsende 26.11.2021, 19.30 Uhr
Ort Virtual via Zoom
Zoom link (password required!)

If you want to participate please write to Marvin Schmitt for the Zoom password!


Recent years witnessed a growing interest in speech act theory (for instance, Farkas and Bruce 2010, Lauer 2013, Krifka 2015, Geurts 2019). This research focused on the meaning of individual speech acts and grounding of acts and content. In this workshop we shift the perspective to the role of speech acts in discourse, in particular, the sequencing (adjacency pairs) and referencing of speech acts (in the form of anaphora and deixis). Integrating communicative actions into formal theory requires frameworks that exceed the limitations of sentence semantics (for instance, Kamp and Reyle 1993, Asher and Lascarides 2003, Ginzburg 2012). Communicative actions qua being actions raise ontological questions, for instance, do we have to distinguish communicative actions from other events, propositions and facts?

The workshop "SPAGAD-4: Sequencing and Referencing Speech Acts" zooms in on two topics on speech acts. The first day focuses on sequencing of speech acts. The second is concerned with referencing speech acts and ontological questions of speech acts.

Day 1:

The sequencing of speech acts provides to the overall structure and development of conversation. While the development of conversations is undetermined, it is not all together arbitrary. Conversation analysis found very early on that certain utterance pairs, so called adjacency pairs, form a basic organizational device of structuring conversations (Schegloff and Sacks 1973). The first element of the pair makes conditionally relevant next a certain response, thereby providing to a potential coherent unit. For instance, when asking a question, the recipient is (usually) supposed to answer in the next turn. Furthermore, it has been shown that this basic structure builds the backbone of sophisticated recursive structures, usually referred to as extended adjacency pairs, with the possible substructures pre-expansion, insert-expansion, and post-expansion all of which usually are (extended) adjacency pairs themselves (Schegloff 2007). Not much attention has been devoted to these structures in formal studies of conversation. For that reason, we would like to discuss the formal representation of adjacency pairs and sequences based on these as well as their relation to theories of discourse organization formulated in terms of QUDs and rhetorical relations.

Day 2:

There are formal theories of dynamic semantics that incorporate analyses of discourse structure (e.g. Hunter, Asher, and Lascarides 2018), wherein speech acts serve a double role. For one, individual parts of conversation are interconnected by the means of rhetorical relations, and secondly, they are carriers of semantic content. We would
like to put more emphasis on the question of what exactly the nature of speech acts is: What is their ontological status in discourse and joint attention? Some theories know of different locations of semantic content (e.g. Kamp unpublished). In such a landscape, where do speech acts dwell? In how far do they differ from other abstract entities such as non-linguistic events, propositions, and facts? How do speech acts relate to their linguistic content? Additionally, if speech acts are a proper kind of semantic entities, how can anaphora and deixis to speech acts be modeled?

Invited speakers:

Hans Kamp (University of Texas at Austin/Universität Stuttgart)
Jonathan Ginzburg (Université Paris-Diderot (Paris 7))
Julian Schlöder (University of Connecticut)
Manfred Krifka (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)

Workshop plan (Berlin time):

Day 1, Nov 25:
16:00 – Marvin Schmitt: Introduction
16:10–17:10 – Marvin Schmitt: Towards a computational model of sequence organization in talk-in-interaction: adjacency pairs
17:20–18:20 – Jonathan Ginzburg (joint work with Pawel Lupkowski and Zulipiye Yusupujiang): Characterizing Response Spaces in Dialogue
18:30–19:30 – Manfred Krifka: Adjacency Pairs in Common Ground Update: Assertions, Questions, Greetings, Commands

Day 2, Nov 26:
16:00 – Friederike Buch: Introduction
16:10–17:10 – Friederike Buch: Reference to Speech Acts in Situated Dynamic Semantics
17:20–18:20 – Julian Schlöder (joint work with Daniel Altshuler): Referencing Across Media and the Composition Problem
18:30–19:30 – Hans Kamp: Ways of representing entities, entity-free coreference and the mental states of discourse participants: MSDRT and the ‘Entity Representations and Articulated Contexts’ framework


  • Asher, Nicholas and Alex Lascarides (2003). Logics of Conversation. Studies in Natural Language Processing. CUP.
  • Farkas, Donka F. and Kim B. Bruce (2010). “On Reacting to Assertions and Polar Questions”. In: Journal of Semantics 27, pp. 81–118.
  • Geurts, Bart (2019). “Communication as commitment sharing: speech acts, implicatures, common ground”. In: Theoretical Linguistics 45 (1), pp. 1–30.
  • Ginzburg, Jonathan (2012). The interactive stance. OUP.
  • Hunter, Julie, Nicholas Asher, and Alex Lascarides (2018). “A formal semantics for situated conversation”. In: Semantics and Pragmatics. Early Access.
  • Kamp, Hans (unpublished). Entity Representation and Articulated Contexts. Manuscript.
  • Kamp, Hans and Uwe Reyle (1993). From Discourse to Logic. Introduction to Modeltheoretic Semantics of Natural Language, Formal Logic and Discourse Representation Theory. Springer.
  • Krifka, Manfred (2015). “Bias in Commitment Space Semantics: Declarative questions, negated questions, and question tags”. In: Proceedings of the 25th Semantics and Linguistic Theory Conference. Ed. by Sarah D’Antonio, Mary Moroney, and Carol Rose Little, pp. 328–345.
  • Lauer, Sven (2013). “Towards A Dynamic Pragmatics”. PhD Thesis. Stanford University.
  • Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction. A Primer in Conversation Analysis.
  • Schegloff, Emanuel A. and Harvey Sacks (1973). “Opening up Closings”. In: Semiotica 8 (4), pp. 289–327.