|Title:||Bridging Inferences in Discourse Interpretation||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Matthias Irmer||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Universität Leipzig, Faculty of Language Studies|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Discourse Analysis;|
|Abstract:||The subject of this thesis is the role bridging inferences play in discourse interpretation. Bridging inferences, i.e. the resolution of indirect anaphoric relationships between entities in a text or a discourse, must be drawn by recipients in order to make sense of the linguistic input which often does not fully specify the intended meaning of utterances. Contextual knowledge has to be taken into account for successfully
determining the meaning of texts and discourses. This thesis examines the
interpretation of discourses in general, and bridging inferences in particular, from formal, computational, cognitive, and psychological points of view. It develops a formalization which can account for underspecification in cohesion and coherence of discourses and permits the integration of bridging inferences in the construction of a structured discourse representation.
The first part of the dissertation reviews the numerous existing approaches, which have been elaborated in a wide range of research contexts, to key issues in discourse semantics and pragmatics. Central topics are pragmatic inferences and defeasible reasoning in general, the Common Ground and intentions of discourse participants, cohesion and anaphora resolution, coherence and discourse structure, and discourse
interpretation. The second part of the thesis takes a closer look at bridging inferences and starts from a new classification of bridging anaphora, based on existing corpus-based and psycholinguistic studies, which distinguishes two types of bridging relations: mereological and frame-related bridging. Mereological bridging is characterized by a part-of relation between anaphor and anchor, while frame-related bridging involves thematic and conceptual relationships. Special attention is given to
bridging anaphora involving eventualities and their modeling by means of integrating encyclopedic knowledge encoded in FrameNet, a cognitive network of stereotypical scenarios or frames, into a formal theory of discourse structure as provided by Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT). The present approach spells out how world knowledge, represented in frames, contributes to discourse interpretation, both for establishing discourse relations and for resolving bridging anaphora. A second focus lies on the discourse integration of a specific construction, Clitic Left Dislocation (CLLD) in Spanish, a device used to link an utterance to the preceding discourse in a particular way, often involving bridging inferences.