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Title: The role of interlocutor familiarity in meaning creation in conversations
Authors: Tan, Zhi Xuan
Keywords: Humanities::Linguistics::Sociolinguistics::Pragmatics
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Abstract: This paper focuses on the role of interlocutor familiarity as a key factor in influencing the meaning creation process in conversations. Contrary to the classical Structuralist view of language as fixed codes to be decoded, we adopt the emergent view that words do not have inherent meaning. Instead, meaning is created using abductive inference in individual communicative contexts, with the outcome depending on the interlocutors, and on the social context. We address the current status of research on abductive inference, a key process in meaning creation in conversations, and identify a research gap related to the factors that influence meaning creation in conversations. We hypothesize that interlocutor familiarity is a key factor in influencing this meaning creation process, and seek to find out the degree to which it affects communicators and addressees (interpreters). Nineteen undergraduate student participants were grouped into two groups based on whether they were familiar with the interlocutor or not. The results support the hypothesis that interlocutor familiarity plays a significant role in increasing addressees’ ease of access to and interpretation of the communicator’s intended meaning. We also identified two other factors which influence and assist interpreters in their meaning creation process. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the inferential processes that take place in conversations, and provide preliminary grounds for future studies on the topic of abductive inference in conversations. The insights generated will help us better understand language and communication through an inferential approach.
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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