Common Ground's In Linguistics And Communications Essays

Common Ground's In Linguistics And Communications Essays

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''Two people's common ground is [...] the sum of their mutual, common, or joint knowledge, beliefs, and suppositions'' (Clark: 93). With these words, Herbert Clark explains the linguistic notion in a nutshell. Common ground is indispensible to our communicating with other people and performing joint actions, as it provides the basis for the aforesaid and places it in the correct context. If, for example, marine-loving Layla goes on a trip with her boyfriend Eric to swim with dolphins, this experience and every sensation that has to do with it, adds to their shared common ground.
Therefore, every joint action, e.g. an utterance, adds to the common ground one shares with a particular person. Accordingly, it grows throughout the relationship with the given person. However, one can never be sure whether the other person considers the same information as shared base, as the actual information may be corrupted and thus differ. Let me try to explain this with the example of Layla and her boyfriend. They both know that the group of animals they played with were dolphins. Since the Spinner's Dolphin and the Beluga share numerous common features in looks, though, the woman might think that she had been swimming with Spinner's Dolphins, while her boyfriend is convinced the animals were Belugas. This misinterpretation will never become apparent if they do not mention the animal's specific name in a conversation or hear about it elsewhere. To avoid such errors, Clark underlines the importance of finding a certain level of common ground which precludes misunderstandings from developing.
How well the information about a shared base in Layla's and Eric's case the dolphin justifies the common ground, depends on the quality of the evidence. Wh...

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...erence could be seen. They either put the piece in the puzzle or into the basket but not according to the shared experience with one of the experimenter. In the second study, significantly fewer infants of both age groups equally cleaned up the target object when the stranger performed a pointing gesture at the object, than when the experimenter with whom they share a common ground did. The experiment's outcome supports the researcher's as well as Clark's argument that previously shared experience influences and shapes how a person, even infants starting from about 18-months, react in and to a given situation.

Works Cited

Clark, Herbert
1996 Ch. 4: Language use. Using Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3–25.

Liebal, Kristen et al.
2009 Infants use shared experience to interpret pointing gestures. Developmental Science 12.2, 264–271.

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