Understanding displacement of communication by graphical communication tasks

Abstract

One important feature of human linguistic communication is “displacement,” to communicate about absent objects. However, it has not been revealed that which aspects of displacement are unique to human beings. We claim that displacement should be considered in the context of communication and distinguished from memory to this end. We designed a graphical communication task for displaced communication based on Fay et al (2003). Two participants are paired and communicate using electric drawing pads in separate rooms. In the experiment, we investigated speakers’ devices on expression to make listeners understand absent objects. We compared two different kinds of tasks one corresponds to displacement based on memory and the other displacement not based on listeners’ experience. The result shows that speakers tend to use placeholders significantly more to express events that are not based on listeners’ experience. Placeholders are alternative expressions that typically have the same features with absent objects.


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