This course covers the principles and mechanisms that underlie the production and interpretation of discourse and conversational dialog. Topics include: Reference, attention, and dynamic models of discourse state. Discourse coherence and structure. Turn-taking and speech acts in conversation. Computational models.
Ling 101 is strongly recommended. No programming experience is assumed. Formal reasoning skills and an enthusiasm for the complexity of natural language are required.
Readings will be distributed in class, posted on the class website, or put on reserve in the McGill language library.
There will be four homework assignments, distributed approximately
every six lectures, each worth 10% of your grade. They will consist
of paper-and-pencil exercises. Assignments are due in class. Late
assignments will be penalized at 5% if handed in by 5pm on the due
date, 10% per day otherwise, and will not be accepted at all after the
time at which graded assignments and answer keys are distributed.
There will be two exams: a midterm (worth 25%) and a final (worth 35%).
Students are permitted to consult with each other and/or work together in learning the concepts necessary for completing the homework, as long as each student: (1) writes up his or her own homework alone, using no notes resulting from the collaboration, and (2) lists the names of all other students involved in the collaboration prominently on the assignment. Collaborative efforts not meeting these restrictions are strictly forbidden.
Needless to say, please turn off your cell phones before entering the classroom.
I. Introduction to Discourse and Dialog
II. Discourse Models and the English Reference System
III. How Pronouns are Interpreted
IV. Discourse Structure and Coherence
V. Dialog Structure and Coherence
VI. Summary and Review