Getting computers to talk like you and me: discourse context, focus, and semantics

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I think it depends on the kind of dissertation you are writing, and the level of linguistic detail you plan to go into. If you are working on a research MA or PhD, and have a lot of data, then it might indeed be a good idea to write a chapter that collects and discusses recurring grammatical features in the texts, and to then follow this up with a chapter that discusses what discursive positions are constructed through the language with examples, of course.

To be honest, I myself like it when a thesis tells a story, so I would be tempted to combine these two things: you could structure your thesis according to the different themes you are analysing, and then use the grammar parts as evidence and illustration.

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In a case like that, you could also provide the more technical details and any primary sources in an appendix, so you can readily reference your analytic work without having to reproduce every minute bit in the main text. I would check with your supervisor to see what makes most sense for your case, and whether your examiners have a preference in this regard.

You are, after all, writing for a specific audience… Hope this helps! Best- F.

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Your material is very clear and helpful. Are these methods okay to use for interviews that have been written up at masters level. Many Thanks Josh. Hi Josh, Discourse analysis is definitely a great way to process interviews — provided you are looking for the often subconscious communication choices your interviewees make to get their point across, and if you want to know what kind background knowledge and assumptions informs their views.

What I normally do is create a protocol of the interviews using either my own paraphrasing or rough transcripts , and after coding the meaningful segments I look at specific parts in detail. This can then also include transcribing those parts in a way that marks hesitations, intonations, and other such qualities of the spoken word Paul Chilton has provided some useful annotation advice for this. As you might imagine, this can be a lot of work. I hope this helps you decide how to approach those materials — good luck with the MA!

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Best — Florian. Thanks for the replay and advice, this sounds really good. So mix the discourse analysis with the visual analysis that you have also clearly presented. Could I call this a multimodal discourse analysis? Would you recommend analysing some of the physical impacts as well? In relation to Paul Chilton is there a link to an example of how to transcribe in a way that marks hesitations, intonations, and other such qualities of the spoken word?

So if you are analysing camera angles, mise-en-scene, editing, etc. That would be the sort of question Foucault indeed looked at. A risk here is that you might end up doing too many things at once, so be careful that you still narrow down your main analysis enough. This, of course, depends entirely on the kind of thesis you are writing. Hi Florian, Firstly, this post on discourse analysis is incredibly helpful so cheers for that! I was wondering if you could recommend how many articles to study, as CDA is so intense, would 2 or 3 be ok?

Thanks Michele.

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Therefore, a bare assertion has the illocutionary force of asserting that the speaker believes the assertion. Langages, 19, 73, Cortex 55 , — However, he makes clear in his explanation that he is only repeating what he was told by someone else. There are a ton of meaningful elements out there that can enable our digital assistants to do more for our customers. Where initials refer to the transcript of the interview with that particular witness, they will be underlined i.

Hi Michele, I agree that a full discourse analysis of a large number of texts is almost impossible for anything smaller than a research MA or PhD thesis. There are three ways you can still make a contribution in an MA thesis, but without overwhelming yourself. The first is to consciously phase out certain analytic aspects, for instance by choosing to not explore all linguistic features of the texts in detail.

The second option is to chose materials that are particularly representative.

If you have evidence that a particular newspaper article kicked off a huge debate, or that a specific policy document is of paramount importance e. Thirdly, you could take a classic hermeneutical approach by starting with one text, qualitatively mapping out the discourse and its features there, and then moving on to a second text, a third text, and so on, until you are no longer finding any major new discursive features. If you narrow your topic down well enough at the outset, you may indeed be in a position to justify using only a handful of texts rather than a large corpus.

Thanks Florian, this is really helpful.

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Do you think that would be okay, as long as my limitations are explicit? This could work nicely. Let me know how it shapes up! Best — F. I learn much from it when I designed my research. I just have one question, is it suit for analysing the official documents like rules, laws, regulations etc.? Discourse analysis can definitely be used on policy documents. The important thing to keep in mind is that a legal document is a specific genre, and that different genre conventions consequently apply.

Hi, Florian, Thank you for your suggestion. I have read Media Discourse written by Fairclough. Could you mind to tell me how you deal with this situation?

Translation into different contexts is of course an issue, particularly with the more theoretical aspects of discourse analysis Fairclough is a good example here. You could check what Chinese authors are writing on the subject. Sorry for replying late. Thank you so much for providing so many useful resources for my research. Hi Florian, this is a great article, and is one of the first I read that really explains the process clearly. Is this too ambitious?

How many documents do you recommend for a decent analysis, and of such variety in genre? She had similar concerns about narrowing down her material, and I suggested three different options to her on how to handle that challenge. In your case, you may have to make a choice: you could use one of the two sets of texts official IAEA documents vs. Otherwise you might end up with a lot of speeches, particularly on a topic such as this one, that you may not be able to assess in detail at a qualitative level.

Unless of course you are doing a PhD, in which case this sounds like the kind of work that would make a good doctoral thesis. I hope this helps! After reading your response for Michele as suggested, would you recommend Fairclough over, say, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, for such a project? What would you say are the benefits of CDA? Hi Louise. Fairclough , political discourse analysis e. Chilton , or discourse-historical analysis e. To answer your question, I think you could make a distinction at the methodological level between studying 1 primarily and in great detail the linguistic features of a discourse, 2 the socio-historical context of the discourse and its development over time , and 3 the strategic communication choices and social practices of different actors at a particular point in time e.

For an MA thesis I think it would be fair to emphasise one of these levels of analysis, as long as you also acknowledge the others. You could, for instance, provide the socio-historical context in your introduction and could then explore how different actors frame the issue, building in examples from the language as you go along.

Just a thought. Hi Florian. Thank you very much for putting this website up. I am currently writing a proposal for a PhD dissertation on energy policy formulation and have been wondering about a specific kind of discourse analysis — argumentative discourse analysis M.

There seems to be a dearth of resources about it, especially as a method. Many thanks and more power to you. Hi Jalton, Sorry for keeping you waiting — you caught me during the Easter break. At the risk of doing his work injustice, it seems his argumentative discourse analysis ADA is very much interested in the structure of texts and conversations and in the rhetorical and argumentative strategies that people deploy. I particularly like the fact that he places a strong emphasis on how people perform their role in social interactions, which is something my colleagues and I are also interested in.

I would have to talk to him and his colleagues to see where we potentially disagree. My guess would be that I place a tad more emphasis on agency whereas he might be a bit more interested in structures. The project sounds fascinating. Thank you for taking the time to respond. It is very much appreciated.

Thanks Jalton, I appreciate the feedback. Thank you for the helpful breakdown of such a complex task!

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The problem I have is coding the samples. I know this totally depends on the research question, but how I can I work coherently without becoming muddled with the infinitely interconnection relations between these concepts? Sorry for the late reply, but only just got back from a trip. Getting the amount of work you put in right is indeed a big challenge. The work might be more arduous now, but if you plan to use the materials after the PhD as well, for follow-up work, then this might be a good option for you.

It sounds to me like this is the direction you are already headed in. In the thesis, you can then look at specific discourse strands only, but note that they of course intersect with other issues as well and point to the appendix for the comprehensive list. Making choices as to what is most important is part of a PhD project, so I doubt anyone would fault you for not covering every conceivable discursive connection. The second option would be to come up with a two-step coding process: the first part would work at the macro-level, and would use units of your materials that are fairly large so: full texts, full pages, or at the very least full paragraphs.

You can create a table and then list all the relevant units, followed by all the various codes you have decided to use for that section, and maybe also deploy quantitative tools to then help you get a grasp of that material. The third option would be to state at the start that you are only interested in two or three main concepts, and to radically narrow down your set of categories. Sorry for not having better advice — this is a very difficult question.