The strategic use of noise in pragmatic reasoning

Leon BergenMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Noah GoodmanStanford University

Abstract

We combine two recent probabilistic approaches to natural language understanding, exploring the formal pragmatics of communication on a noisy channel. We show that nominal amounts of actual noise can be leveraged for communicative purposes. Common knowledge of a noisy channel leads to the use and correct understanding of sentence fragments. Prosodic emphasis, interpreted as an intentional action to reduce noise on a word, results in strengthened meanings.

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The strategic use of noise in pragmatic reasoning (0.9 MB)



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