Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Deborah Burke

Rights Information

© 2016 Nicole C Maslan


The author presents an analysis of how speakers establish references in conversation. Further, this paper focuses on what words of a reference are conventionalized as speakers coordinate multiple times. The author explores how the co-occurrence of the reference terms with the referent can be a good predictor of what words are conventionalized over time. In order to study this, the author created an online version of the reference game from Clark and Wilkes-Gibbs (1986) experiment, where a matcher and director must describe a set of ambiguous shapes to each other many times. By creating an online version of this reference game the author was able to gather significantly more data and analyze the data with computational tools. Results prove that co-occurrence is a useful predictor of terms which are conventionalized, providing a first step for accounting for statistical inference in the process of conventionalization.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.