In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

966LANGUAGE, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 4 (1984) Dialogue games: An approach to discourse analysis. By Lauri Carlson. (Synthese language library 17.) Dordrecht: Reidel, 1983. Pp. xxiii, 317. /115.00.» Reviewed by William Frawley, University ofDelaware Carlson here provides reseachers in discourse analysis with an undoubtedly interesting book. However, it is not always clear that the volume is interesting because of its purposes. This is a work which, in many places, the reader must make interesting, rather than rely on the inherent intrigue of Cs arguments and observations. Nonetheless, C offers some striking insights, especially on matters of functional syntax in discourse; these findings, coupled with some ambitious work by the reader, can make Dialogue games useful. The book is divided into Part I, a discussion of a formal theory of questionanswer dialogue, and Part II, a detailed treatment of functional syntax in dialogue . Critical to this division, however, is Cs Introduction—which gives a three-page discussion of his formal approach to discourse analysis, involving the application of game-theoretical semantics to question-answer dialogues. The use of this semantic model, one realizes later, provides the motivation for many of Cs subsequent analyses, which seem prima-facie quite obvious or limited—but which become necessary, given his particular formal treatment. Because the introduction does not give a full explanation of game-theoretical semantics or its application to discourse, one begins to wonder later on why, e.g., C emphasizes dialogue principally as a consistency problem, and why he focuses only on question-answer dialogues. The literature on game-theoretical semantics makes this clear. Superficially, one may describe this type of semantics as a formal language-game in which the moves of the players are designed to prove true atomic sentences from complex ones in a series of strategies against a scheming opposition (namely, Nature); hence a fundamental problem is consistency across moves in the game. Likewise, game-theoretical semantics is applicable only to certain 'suitable fragments [emphasis supplied ] of natural language' (Saarinen 1977:408). These facts explain Cs emphases , but only after one has gone to the literature on the subject. In short, his introduction is germane to the book; but the reader does not get enough there, and must read his sources (see especially Hintikka 1973, Saarinen 1977, 1979). This will be especially discouraging to researchers in discourse analysis, who are often unfamiliar with (and even scornful of) strictly formal approaches. However, the extra reading pays off. In Part I, C discusses the structure and logic of dialogue in terms of both formal and non-formal abstractions borrowed from game-theoretical semantics, epistemic logic, and traditional discourse analysis. In Chaps. 1.1, 'Aims of the game', and 1.2, 'Propositional attitudes', he outlines the epistemic aims ofdialogue in terms ofrational dialogue game-players, and considers the constraints on dialogue games given by traditional conversational maxims. Chap. 1.3 is a detailed look at the function of questions in dialogue, and the sorts of answers which particular questions demand. Especially interesting here is Cs discussion of 'complete answers', which he divides into three types: definite, exhaustive, and conclusive. The next four chapters are devoted to the logical structure of dialogue games. In Chap. 1.4, 'Dialogue game rules', C provides (among other things) an interesting treatment of the difference between rules and strategies in dialogue, with the notable conclusion that ? good communication REVIEWS967 strategy may, by force of convention, be relegated into a rule of language' (57). At first blush, this is a nice theoretical statement, since it locates the origin of linguistic rules in functional exchange. But this claim has been well established in theoretical linguistics (cf. Givón 1979) and especially in applied linguistics (cf. Lantolf & Frawley 1983); C gives little indication that he has consulted this other literature. All this underlines my earlier claim that much of what C is saying seems obvious; but the obviousness results from his having to spell out a formal theory of dialogue in game-theoretical semantic terms—which demands his articulation of rules, e.g., as strategies. Chaps. 1.4, 1.5 ('Structure of dialogue'), 1.6 ('Logical Game Rules'), and 1.7 ('Logic of dialogue') are where the reader must make...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 966-969
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.