Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Survey of Studies of Bridging Anaphora

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

A Survey of Studies of Bridging Anaphora

Article excerpt


This paper aims to review previous major studies of bridging anaphora resolution and generation in terms of their major views, advantages and inadequacies of each theory from the psychological, coherence-based, corpus-based, relevance-theoretic, cognitive, formal and computational perspectives. Then a critique of previous approaches to BA resolution and generation are made for future studies.

Key words: Bridging anaphora; Approaches to BA resolution and generation; Critique


Anaphora plays a major role in accounting for cohesion and coherence in discourses and is an intriguing phenomenon under active study in both linguistic and computational academia. A broad range of approaches to anaphora resolution have been proposed in earlier literature. Most of these studies focus only on the coreference resolution and generation task. However, the algorithms for Bridging Anaphora (BA) resolution and generation have been much less explored. In comparison to direct anaphora, the resolution and generation of indirect anaphora (also, BA) is still a more difficult task because it is required to define the term BA properly and also capture the wide variety of semantic relations it entails and the different knowledge structures it evokes. Diverse treatments of BA point to its complexity and multifacedness of the language phenomena, and its theoretical and practical significance in both linguistic and computational research.


1.1 Psychological Accounts

Many researchers have for long taken psychological approaches to BA resolution (Burkhardt, 2006; Clark, 1977; Garrod «fe Sanford, 1982; Garrod «fe Terras, 2000; Clark «fe Haviland, 1974, 1977; Singer, 1979). Among them, Clark (1977) is the first to use the term "bridging". In the early studies of bridging reference, bridging is treated as one of the functions of the definite article. By contrast, Clark treats bridging implicatures as conversational implicatures in the Gricean sense. According to Clark, a bridging implicature is drawn when the "Maxim of Antecedence" (i.e., Try to construct your utterance such that the listener has one and only one direct antecedent for any given information and that it is the intended antecedent.) is deliberately violated. Clark is mainly concerned with the different ways in which new and given information are presented to the hearer. Clark and Haviland (1977) propose that the following Given-New Contract should be incorporated into Grice's Cooperative principle:

Given-New Contract The speaker agrees to try to construct the Given and New information of each utterance in context (a) so that the listener is able to compute from memory the unique Antecedent that was intended for the Given information, and (b) so that he will not already have the New information attached to the Antecedent (p. 9).

Whereas Clark accounts for bridging in terms of contracts and maxims of communication, Garrod and Sanford (1982) take a more psychological view. Garrod and Sanford propose a scenario-based account of text comprehension. A "scenario", or "frame", is a particular part of world knowledge activated in the course of interpretation. The information stored in a stereotypical scenario is then used for understanding BA. Besides, a scenario is made up of two different components: explicit and implicit focus. Explicit focus contains entities explicitly mentioned in the utterance while implicit focus contains slots for entities evoked by the current scenario for the interpretation of the utterance.

Garrod and Sanford explain the difference between explicit and implicit focus in terms of the organization of memory. "Explicit focus is a short-term store of limited capacity, and therefore, as new tokens are added, the activation of old ones will be gradually diminished until eventually they are no longer in focus" (p.162). By contrast, there is no capacity limitation for implicit focus partitioned in long-term memory. …

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