0310_semantic2

0310_semantic2 - Processing pragmatic and referential...

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Processing pragmatic and referential information II 9.59 / 24.905 March 10, 2005 Ted Gibson
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To do today 1. One theory of processing some non-literal language: The Referential Theory 1. The principle of parsimony 2. The principle of referential support 2. Referential information 3. Modularity re-visited: Can discourse information guide syntactic processing?
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Processing non-literal language • Gricean Maxims: Cooperative conversation. Violating a maxim leads to an implicature. • One theory of processing some non-literal language The Referential Theory Minimize discourse structure, including counting all Gricean implicatures. Relies on violations of Gricean informativity in order to compute implicatures.
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Referential theory (Crain & Steedman, 1985; Altmann & Steedman, 1988) The referential theory was developed to account for the observation that the null context is not necessarily a neutral context: The null context might favor one interpretation over another. E.g. MV/RR ambiguity: (1) # The horse raced past the barn fell. (Bever, 1970) The standard view in the literature was that the garden-path effect in (1) was due to a syntactic preference for the MV over the RR structure.
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The referential theory I: The principle of parsimony (Crain & Steedman, 1985): A reading which carries fewer unsupported implicatures will be favored over one that carries more. II: The principle of referential support (Altmann & Steedman, 1988): An NP analysis which is referentially supported will be favored over one that is not. Referential theory explanation of the garden-path effect in (1): There are fewer unsupported implicatures (C&S refer to them as presuppositions, but this isn’t quite the right term) in the MV structure than in the RR structure. This follows from the principle of parsimony.
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Discourse structures in the mental model for the MV structure of "the horse raced": 1. A horse h; i Discourse structures in the mental model for the RR structure of "the horse raced": 1. A horse h; i 2. A set of horses H of which h i is a member; 3. One of this set, h, was raced somewhere; i 4. None of the other members of the set H have the property in (3), that they were raced in the same way that h was raced. i There are three additional implicated structures in the RR structure, so the MV reading is preferred in the null context.
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More general case: When the definite article “the” is used with a head noun and a modifier (either before or after the noun), this implicates the existence of a set of nouns of which only one has the property indicated by the modifier. This hypothesis relies on an implicature from a violation of a Grice’s conversational maxim of quantity: Maxim of quantity : Speakers should say as much as needed to be informative, without saying more than is necessary.
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