A Discourse Production Model For Twenty Questions by Michael Fortescue

By Michael Fortescue

This essay is an try and building up a believable version of the cognitive procedures at the back of the habit exhibited by means of speaker-hearers in a selected discourse state of affairs.

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Extra info for A Discourse Production Model For Twenty Questions

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The fact that there is a well-known response sequence between the latter act (typically associated with the interrogative form) and a 'yes/no' answer is not of any use in itself to the hearer in determining how to respond to a game question which is not in the interrogative form. g. in INDIRECT REALIZATIONS OF DISCOURSE ACTS 49 the case of rhetorical questions or requests realized by such forms). e. is expected following an 'Answer' act - and vice versa) and appropriate propositional content (this is all that the form types listed in Chap­ ter 1 have in common).

It's alive. It's in this room. (Game 2) I don't know. Which one ? I must answer 'yes' there, they do. You've already asked that, didn't you ? (Game 2) It is α bridge, yes... The rules of the game (see Appendix 1) stipulate merely that the answers ought to be simple 'yes/no' ones, though more elaborate res­ ponses are permitted if the answerer feels it is impossible to answer a question in this dichotomic fashion. It is possible to summarize these various responses in a 're- 'TWENTY QUESTIONS' 30 sponse sequence' rule of the following kind, where the double arrow is to be read as 'is typically followed by' and the alternatives on the right constitute the 'expected' response set on the part of the addressee for the discourse act on the left.

The hearer might well discover some such possible ulterior point (and assume that it corre­ sponds to the speaker's actual intention), as in Game 2 (see Appendix 3): Q: Are we supposed to keep count ? A: That's five. The point is, though, that a minimal 'yes/no' response would be appropriate here (any further action according to the answer on the 'TWENTY QUESTIONS' 50 questioner's part being wholly his own affair), as in the following example: Q: You been keeping count ? A: No. But A in the first example has calculated in addition - via his (Meta­ frame) knowledge of what he is meant to be doing during the course of the game - that he should state at this point what the count is in fact.

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