Understanding Language Use in Social Contexts: The Role of Past and Present Discourse Contexts

Si On Yoon, Sarah Brown-Schmidt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language is produced and understood with respect to contexts that shape what is said and how it is understood. In conversation, these contexts may include both the immediate physical context that the conversational partners are situated in and the historical context, including what was said earlier in that conversation, as well as the conversational partner. While much is known about how immediate, especially physical contexts, shape language use, less is known about when and how the historical context is accessed and integrated into language use in the moment. This chapter reviews evidence from empirical studies of conversation that illustrate the ways in which immediate and historical contexts shape language use. As the historical context necessarily draws on memory representations, studies of memory for conversation offer insights into the scope and limits of historical influences on conversation. Findings speak to if and when conversational partners are likely to walk away from conversation with similar representations of what was said, with implications for models of the representations of mental states in conversation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLanguage Production
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000843293
ISBN (Print)9780367703424
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Arts and Humanities


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