The complexity of addressing (in conversations) is influenced, in the first place, by its multimodal nature:

addressing is carried out through various communication channels such as:

  • speech;
  • gaze;
  • hand and head gestures.

Furthermore, in most cases addressing is not performed explicitly but tacitly. It depends on the course of the conversation, the status of attention of interacting participants, their involvement in discussion as well as on what the participants know about each other’s state of the knowledge whether explicit addressing is asked for.

This is what we refer to as context sensitivity of the addressing practices.

Other elements of context that have an effect on addressee design are the participants’ physical arrangement and the presence of various attention ‘distracters’ in the conversational environment.