Inter-sentential anaphora and coherence relations in discourse: a perfect match

Abstract : Hobbs (1979) ('Coherence and Coreference', Cognitive Science 3, 67-90) claims that the interpretation of inter-sentential anaphors 'falls out' as a 'by-product' of using a particular coherence relation to integrate two discourse units. The article argues that this is only partly true. Taking the reader's perspective, I suggest that there are three stages in invoking and implementing a given coherence relation to integrate two discourse units when updating a given discourse context. Interleaved with these are two distinguishable levels in the assignment of reference to the anaphor(s) in the second unit: first, through a search for evidence for the appropriateness of a given anticipated relation, the reader will provisionally assign a referent to the anaphor(s) in the second unit via the semantic structure within the relation's definition (this would correspond to Hobbs's original thesis); and second, in coming to a final decision as to the applicability of the coherence relation(s), the anaphor(s) will receive a full, expanded interpretation. This in turn will serve to actually implement the coherence relation initially assumed. In more general terms, the article aims to pinpoint the precise nature of the interactions between the invocation and implementation of given coherence relations and the functioning of anaphors in non-initial units, in processing multi-propositional texts.
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Francis Cornish. Inter-sentential anaphora and coherence relations in discourse: a perfect match. Language Sciences, Elsevier, 2009, 31 (5), pp.572-592. ⟨hal-00966791⟩

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