Centering Theory in Discourse

Centering Theory in Discourse

Centering Theory in Discourse

Centering Theory in Discourse

Synopsis

Many areas of language-related research -- language processing, linguistic semantics/pragmatics, speech understanding and synthesis, and psychological theories of attention -- have shown an increasing need to describe and understand aspects of discourse anaphora in relation to both processing complexity and the global structure of discourse. A major problem in this area is the large gap between existing theories and accounts of actual phenomena in naturally occurring discourse. Centering Theory is an account of one aspect of discourse, local discourse structure, that makes specific claims about both processing complexity and discourse anaphora. Centering Theory in Discourse focuses on Centering Theory's ability to account for data from naturally occurring discourse in several languages. The contributors test empirically several claims of Centering Theory, propose extensions to and refinements of Centering, and show how it can be integrated with other aspects of discourse structure and processing.

Excerpt

Many areas of language-related research--natural language processing, linguistic semantics and pragmatics, speech understanding and synthesis, and psychological theories of attention--have shown an increasing need to describe and understand aspects of discourse anaphora in relation to both processing complexity and the global structure of discourse. A major obstacle in this area is the large gap between existing theories and actual phenomena in naturally occurring discourse. As a result, there is a large body of naturally occurring data which cannot be accounted for by existing theories.

Centering theory is an account of one aspect of discourse processing, local discourse structure, that makes specific claims about both processing complexity and discourse anaphora. This book resulted from a workshop on Centering theory held at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS) at the University of Pennsylvania in May of 1993. The workshop focused on centering's ability to account for data from naturally occurring discourse (both monologues and dialogues), with the aim of empirically testing several of its claims. The chapters present extensions to and refinements of centering theory that were stimulated by the workshop, which improve our understanding of the relationship between centering and other theories and types of discourse structure.

In addition to the authors, we would like to thank IRCS for sponsoring the workshop, Susan Deysher for her help with organizing the workshop, and Breck Baldwin, Peter Bosch, Herb Clark, Andrew Kehler, Brian Linson, Kathleen McCoy, Christine Nakatani, Livia Polanyi, Owen Rambow, Karen Sparck Jones, Linda Suri, Jacques Terken, and Gregory Ward for participating in the workshop and providing detailed reviews of the chapters.

Marilyn Walker, Aravind Joshi, and Ellen Prince . . .

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