Pragmatics in Language Grounding: Phenomena, Tasks, and Modeling Approaches

Daniel Fried, Nicholas Tomlin, Jennifer Hu, Roma Patel, Aida Nematzadeh

People rely heavily on context to enrich meaning beyond what is literally said, enabling concise but effective communication. To interact successfully and naturally with people, user-facing artificial intelligence systems will require similar skills in pragmatics: relying on various types of context -- from shared linguistic goals and conventions, to the visual and embodied world -- to use language effectively. We survey existing grounded settings and pragmatic modeling approaches and analyze how the task goals, environmental contexts, and communicative affordances in each work enrich linguistic meaning. We present recommendations for future grounded task design to naturally elicit pragmatic phenomena, and suggest directions that focus on a broader range of communicative contexts and affordances.

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