Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

(Sad Beep): Eliciting Meaning from the Interactions between Pragmatics and Non-Linguistic Utterances

(Sad Beep): Eliciting Meaning from the Interactions between Pragmatics and Non-Linguistic Utterances

Daniel Mora Argüelles

As situations become more numerous and diverse in which humans interact with robots as if they would when engaging other humans, studies of robot-human interactions have been conducted evaluating the successes and shortcomings of these communications. The end of these studies is to overcome the shortcomings of robot speech. These are not necessarily due to a deficit in the lexicon which a robot is programmed with, but more so because of a lack of appearance of the paralinguistic features of human speech which serve to minimize vagueness. A robot successfully employing both linguistic and paralinguistic features of human languages can effectively communicate with human interlocutors in a social context, providing adequate information from which meaning can be elicited. Paralinguistic features of human speech, which includes what has been termed as ‘Non-Linguistic Utterances’, or Gibberish speech, have been characteristic of the social interactions of a number of fictional characters as portrayed in film and television. These characters, like R2-D2, Wall-E, Pingu the Penguin, to name a few, are portrayed speaking no human languages whatsoever. Taking for granted that their communicative exchanges are scripted for film and television, audiences are still successful at eliciting meaning from the noises that these characters make when they ‘talk’. To demonstrate the degree to which humans can successfully glean meaning from a nonlinguistic utterance made by one of these characters, interpretations made by individuals viewing and listening to the interactions portrayed will be solicited and evaluated for their accuracy in describing the nature and implications of the social interaction portrayed. The observations will demonstrate the importance of non-linguistic features of human languages and provide further understanding of a successful conveyance of meaning in the context of social interaction.

April 11, 2016 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. This seems like a very interesting topic. I was not aware that there “paralinguistic features of human speech, which includes what has been termed as ‘non-linguistic utterances’ or gibberish speech. Having seen many shows and movies with robots interacting and communicating with humans the difference in communication. What are some of the examples of non-linguistic features of human languages that aid in robots communicating and providing messages to the audiences.

    Comment by Natasha Modi | April 25, 2016 | Reply

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