Chiara Mazzocconi

Ancien doctorant

Status : Doctorante

Address :

LLF, CNRS – UMR 7110
Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7
Case 7031 – 5, rue Thomas Mann,
75205 Paris cedex 13

E-mail :

Resume : Chiara Mazzocconi_en.pdf (52 Ko)

General presentation

I studied and worked in Rome as a Speech and Language therapist especially with children with pragmatic disorders, autism or Specific Language Impairment. I then decided to pursue my studies in Neuroscience, Language and Communication (UCL, London) and, intrigued by my master thesis' topic, I embarked my PhD adventure in Paris Diderot. 

Research projects

Laughter in interaction. Functions in adults’ dialogue and development in TD and ASD children.

Context processing in Autism


Title : Laughter in interaction: semantics, pragmatics, and child development

Supervision :
  Jonathan Ginzburg

PhD Defense : 2019-09-27

Inscription : 2015 à Paris 7

Jury :

  • Judith Holler (PR) Max Planck Institute (rapporteure)
  • Sophie K. Scott (PR) University College London (rapporteure)
  • Judit Gervain (DR) CNRS Université de Paris
  • Aliyah Morgenstern (PR) Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Catherine Pelachaud (DR) CNRS Sorbonne Université
  • Béatrice Priego-Valverde (MCF) Aix-Marseille Université
  • Jonathan Ginzburg (PR) Université de Paris (directeur)

Abstract :

Laughter is a social vocalization universal across cultures and languages. It is ubiquitous in our dialogues and able to serve a wide range of functions. Laughter has been studied from several perspectives, but the classifications proposed are hard to integrate. Despite being crucial in our daily interaction, relatively little attention has been devoted to the study of laughter in conversation, attempting to model its subtle semantics and complex pragmatics, its neuro-correlates in perception and its development in children. In the current thesis a new comprehensive framework for laughter analysis is proposed, crucially grounded in the assumption that laughter has propositional content, arguing for the need to distinguish different layers of analysis, similarly to the study of speech: form, positioning, semantics and pragmatics. A formal representation of laughter meaning is proposed and a multilingual corpus study (French, Chinese and English) is conducted in order to test the proposed framework and to deepen our understanding of laughter use in adult conversation. Preliminary investigations are conducted on the viability of a laughter form-function mapping based on acoustic features and on the neuro-correlates involved in the perception of laughter serving different functions in natural dialogue. Our results give rise to novel generalizations about the placement, alignment, semantics and function of laughter, stressing the high pragmatic skills involved in its production and perception. The development of the semantic and pragmatic use of laughter is observed in a longitudinal corpus study of 4 American-English child-mother pairs from 12 to 36 months of age. Results show that laughter use undergoes important development at each level analysed, which complies with what could be hypothesised on the base of phylogenetic data, and that laughter can be an effective means to track cognitive/communicative development, and potential difficulties or delays at a very early stage.



  • Jonathan Ginzburg, Chiara Mazzocconi and Ye Tian. Laughter as language. Glossa, 2020.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Ye Tian and Jonathan Ginzburg. What's your laughter doing there? A taxonomy of the pragmatic functions of laughter. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, 2020.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi and Jonathan Ginzburg. Laughter growing up. In Proceedings of the Laughter Workshop 2020, Bielefeld, Germany. (postponed)
  • Chiara Mazzocconi and Jonathan Ginzburg. Growing up with laughter. International Workshop on Language Acquisition. Copenhagen, Denmark. July 2020.


  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Gulun Jin, Judit Gervain, Jonathan Ginzburg, Sophie K. Scott. Laughter processing in conversation: a pilot f-NIRS study. 2019: 3rd Experimental Pragmatics in Italy Conference. University of Cagliari, Sardegna (Italy) September 19-20, 2019.
  • Arash Eshghi, Vladislav Maraev, Christine Howes, Julian Hough and Chiara Mazzocconi. “What are you laughing at?” Incremental Processing of Laughter in Interaction. In Proceedings of LondonLogue 2019, the 23rd Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial), London (UK), 4-6 September 2019.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi and Jonathan Ginzburg. Laughter in development: Semantics and pragmatics of laughter in mother-child interaction. The 5th International Gelological Congress «Laughter and communication», Saint Petersburg (Russia), May 29– June 1, 2019.


  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Qing Cai, Gulun Jin, Judit Gervain, Jonathan Ginzburg, Sophie K. Scott. Perception of laughter related to different laughables in spontaneous conversation: a fNIRS pilot study. Society for Neuroscience, Neuroscience 2018, San Diego, California, November 3-7, 2018.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Vladislav Maraev and Jonathan Ginzburg. Laughter repair. In Proceedings of AixDial 2018, the 22nd Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial), Aix-en-Provence (France), November 8-10, 2018.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Vladislav Maraev and Jonathan Ginzburg. Clarifying laughter. In Proceedings of the Laughter Workshop 2018, Paris, France, September 27-28, 2018
  • Jonathan Ginzburg, Chiara Mazzocconi, Ye Tian Interaction, Appraisal, and Non-Verbal Social Signal Meaning, Cognitive Structures 2018, Düsseldorf, September 13, 2018
  • Vladislav Maraev, Chiara Mazzocconi, Christine Howes, Jonathan Ginzburg, Integrating laughter into spoken dialogue systems: preliminary analysis and suggested programme.In Proceedings of the FAIM/ISCA Workshop on Artificial Intelligence for Multimodal Human Robot Interaction, Stockholm, Sweden, July 14-15, 2018
  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Vladislav Maraev, Christine Howes, Jonathan Ginzburg, Analysis of laughables: a preliminary perception study. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Dialogue and Perception 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14-15, 2018


  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Ye Tian and Jonathan Ginzburg. What's your laughter doing there? CReDog Workshop: Context and Reasoning in Dialogue and Other Media, Paris, 4-5 December 2017
  • Chiara Mazzocconi. Impact of environment on macaques’ play. Method and Techniques in Primate Behaviour and Ecology, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah, Borneo 24 July - 7 August 2017.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi. Book Review: Oring, Elliot (2016). Joking Asides: The Theory, Analysis and Aesthetics of Humour. University Press of Colorado. The European Journal of Humour Research, 5(3), 101-103.


  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Ye Tian and Jonathan Ginzburg (2016). Time alignment between laughter and laughable. The 4th European and 7th Nordic Symposium on Multimodal communication, Centre for Language Technology, University of Copenhagen.
  • Ye Tian, Chiara Mazzocconi, and Jonathan Ginzburg (2016) ‘When do we laugh’. In Proceedings of the 17th Annual Meeting of SigDial the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue, USC.
  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Ye Tian, Jonathan Ginzburg. (2016) Multi-layered analysis of laughter. In Proceedings of SemDial, JerSem, the 20th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue, New Brunswick.


  • Chiara Mazzocconi, Sam Green, Ye Tian and Caspar Addyman. Laughter in naturalistic mother-child interaction: from 12 to 36 months. Poster presentation. SemDial 2014.