Conversational backoff

Kyle Rawlins

Abstract


I explore and analyze a phenomenon ("conversational backoff")
where, instead of accepting an assertion in the normal way, a
speaker challenges its exhaustiveness, but not its content. The
result is that speakers publicly back off of the exhaustivity of
the claim. These challenges are typically triggered by special
questions of a conditional type, and I focus in particular on the
case of "what if" questions, developing a detailed analysis
of their semantics and dynamics.

Keywords


questions, responses, disagreement, discourse, dynamics, conditionals.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v20i0.2550