Abstract

The paper tries to apply a psychological theory of language production and interpretation to the linguistic description of pronouns. The claim is that this is possible and helpful and that a full theory of the use and interpretation of pronouns is possible from this perspective, i.e.one that can both predict when pronouns are used and what is their antecedent. In particular, the theory should be able to explain the properties of pronoun resolution, pronoun selection in natural language generation and the grammaticalisation processes that lead to pronouns. The psychological theory proposed is motivated as an account of parity: the probable identity between the speaker intention and the hearer interpretation. It has four components: a minimal account of legal forms for a given input, speaker self-monitoring for a prioritised set of features, cue-based understanding and filtering by production. A good form for an intention is legal and marks the most prioritised features best, a good interpretation meets the production filter and is most strongly cued by the signal. Descriptively, the main component of self-monitoring for pronouns is an extension of the referential hierarchy (Gundel et al., 1993). Recency, frequency and relevance are effects of cue-based interpretation and central to pronoun resolution. The role of syntax is limited to the agreement features and subclassification of pronouns. The aim of the paper is not to contribute to pronoun resolution or generation but to explore the descriptive potential of a psychologically inspired account of parity in linguistic communication, with of course the hope that the understanding of pronouns benefits from this exercise.

In: International Review of Pragmatics

Abstract

This chapter presents an exhaustification operator in update semantics and discusses a series of applications of this operator. The exhaustification operator takes an open formula and assigns values to the free variables such that the formula is true as a result and entails all versions of the formula that can be obtained from the formula by assigning other values to the free variables for which the formula is true. Update semantics is a general name for any theory of language that explains the semantic properties of its expressions in terms of the information change that they bring about on information states. Exhaustive updates are updates with a formula whose discourse markers in the update are exhaustified with respect to the formula. A logical representation of questions needs to have a question operator and a way for marking Wh-elements. Scalar implicatures is area in which exhaustification does provide a direct explanation.

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
An utterance is normally produced by a speaker in linear time and the hearer normally correctly identifies the speaker intention in linear time and incrementally. This is hard to understand in a standard competence grammar since languages are highly ambiguous and context-free parsing is not linear. Deterministic utterance generation from intention and n-best Bayesian interpretation, based on the production grammar and the prior probabilities that need to be assumed for other perception do much better. The proposed model uses symbolic grammar and derives symbolic semantic representations, but treats interpretation as just another form of perception. Removing interpretation from grammar is not only empirically motivated, but also makes linguistics a much more feasible enterprise.

The importance of Henk Zeevat's new monograph cannot be overstated. Its combination of breadth, formal rigor, and originality is unparalleled in work on the form-meaning interface in human language...Zeevat's is the first proposal which provides a computationally feasible integrated treatment of production and comprehension for pragmatics, semantics, syntax, and even phonology. I recommend it to anyone who combines interests in language, logic, and computation with a sense of adventure. David Beaver, University of Texas at Austin
In: Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition
In: Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition
In: Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning
In: Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition
In: Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition
In: Language Production and Interpretation: Linguistics meets Cognition

Abstract

The well-demonstrated differences between comparative and superlative quantification find an explanation by non-standard logic, i.c. inquisitive logic in Coppock and Brochhagen (2013). The paper tries to show that leaving standard logic is not necessary, if one follows the insight of Krifka (1999) that “at most” and “at least” are particles. Particles would make a contribution to the content of their own which by its nature may deselect certain readings of the host and override certain aspects of the pragmatic contribution of the host. The host influences the particle meaning mainly by binding free slots in its content. The contribution of the two particles is the statement that x is an upper or lower bound of a quantity, this deselects the readings of the host in which it is not answering a quantity question and overrides the exhaustive implicature of such a reading. The host binds the slots in the particle semantics for the quantity question and its answer. It is shown that this analysis for the two particles fully explains the effects found in superlative quantification.

In: Questions in Discourse