Workshop
Discourse Domains and Information Structure

(8 - 12th of August, 2005)

organized as part of
European Summer School on Logic, Language and Information, Edinburgh (ESSLLI 2005)




workshop proceedings (pdf)

here are some pictures:  

Workshop Program

Monday,
August 8th
Klaus von Heusinger (University of Stuttgart)
& Carla Umbach (University of Osnabrück)
Introduction
Bonnie Webber (University of Edinburgh) Adverbials and Information Structure (abstract) (handout)
Tuesday,
August 9th
Aritz Irurtzun (EHU-U. Basque Country & HiTT) Structure & Derivation of Split Focalization (abstract) (handout)
Lucia Tovena (Université Paris VII) Discourse and addition (abstract)
Wednesday,
August 10th
Atle Grřnn (University of Oslo) Presuppositional variance and aspectual meaning (abstract)
Lucie Kučová, Kateřina Veselá, Eva Hajičová, Jiří Havelka (Charles University, Prague) Topic-focus articulation and anaphoric relations: A corpus based probe (abstract)
Thursday,
August 11th
Raquel Fernández (King's College London) The Dynamics of Utterances: Grounding and Update in Type Theory with Records (abstract)
Nicholas Asher (University of Texas) What's going on with final rises?
Friday,
August 12th
Hans Kamp (University of Stuttgart) How many topics at once? (abstract)
Final discussion  


  

Abstracts

 
Raquel Fernández (King's College London)
The Dynamics of Utterances: Grounding and Update in Type Theory with Records

This paper explores a formulation of an approach to the dynamic representation of utterances in dialogue using Type Theory with Records, an extension of constructive type theory with records and record types. The approach we argue for combines a view of grounding that reflects the basic insights of a context-dependent notion of meaning, with a grammar-driven formulation of update processes in a questions-under-discussion model.



 
Atle Grřnn (University of Oslo)
Presuppositional variance and aspectual meaning

Information structure is normally considered to be orthogonal to the syntax-semantics interface. However, in this paper, I argue that aspectual operators in Russian, notably the imperfective aspect with complete event interpretations, are sensitive to information structure. My goal is to show how the imperfective aspect can be used either to assert or presuppose the existence of a complete event of the type described by the VP, without positing ambiguity of the aspectual operator. In a compositional framework, this implies that we need something like a <Background, Focus>-partitioning already at the VP-level, which is input to the aspectual operator. I also suggest how this combined approach to aspect and information structure could be extended to account for aspectual usage in non-declarative sentences.


 
Aritz Irurtzun (EHU-U. Basque Country & HiTT)
Structure & Derivation of Split Focalization

In this paper I propose a minimalist and derivational theory of the Focus Structure that explains in a straightforward way the focal patterns of the answers of multiple-Wh questions as instances of split focus structures.


 
Hans Kamp (University of Stuttgart)
How many topics at once?

There are a number of related, but distinct notions of 'topic' that have been used in the semantic and pragmatic literature. The distinction between topics as a mode of discourse organisation and topics as elements of information structure is a particularly important one; but it is only one of several that must be drawn.

In the talk I intend to first address this general problem of classifying existing topic notions and explicitly distinguish a few of these, which will be needed in the second (and central) part of the talk. In this second part I mean to show, at the hand of a small set of examples, how different topic notions are often simultaneously needed in the analysis of the meaning of a single bit of discourse.


 
Lucie Kučová, Kateřina Veselá, Eva Hajičová, Jiří Havelka (Charles University, Prague)
Topic-focus articulation and anaphoric relations: A corpus based probe

The objective of the paper is to analyze certain interrelationships between the information structure, i.e. the topic-focus articulation (TFA) of sentences and anaphoric relations, on the material achieved during the annotation of TFA and of coreference in the Prague Dependency Treebank (PDT).


Lucia Tovena (Université Paris VII)
Discourse and addition

The Italian negative particle neppure exhibits additive and scalar interpretations. We offer evidence for its characterisation as a particle specialised in adding negative information. Then, we show how the different interpretations follow from different ways of verifying the existential presupposition typical of additive particles. In particular, the order on the set of alternatives observed in the scalar reading is not an independent presupposition but the effect of controlling the increase in information obtained by accommodation rather than by verification.


 
Bonnie Webber (University of Edinburgh)
Adverbials and Information Structure

If one takes the interpretation of a clause to be some type of "Abstract Object" [Asher 1993, Webber 1991], one can distinguish sentence-level adverbials by the number of AOs involved in their interpretation. One type, that we call "clausal adverbials" (Example 1), can be interpreted with respect to the single AO from the adverbial's matrix clause, while the other type, which we call "discourse adverbials" (Example 2), must be interpreted with respect to two AOs – one from the adverbial's matrix clause, and the other from the discourse context [Forbes 2003; Forbes-Riley et al 2005].

(1) Personally, I dislike its combination of ponderousness and timidity, which adds up to an utter lack of drama.

(2) Accordingly, each research project relates a current or potential clinical intervention to a basic science.

Discourse Structure correlates, in part, with discourse connectives (aka "cue phrases"), among which researchers have included coordinating and subordinating conjunctions (e.g. "and", "but", "because", "when"), other coordinators (e.g., "so that", "in order to", ""), and various sentence-level adverbials [Knott 1996]. Clearly, adverbials cannot function as discourse connectives in the same way as conjunctions or other coordinators, all of which link two explicit clauses. Similarly, clausal adverbials cannot function as discourse connectives in the same way as discourse adverbials can, since their interpretation only involves a single AO. What is going on?

In this talk, I will present an account of discourse connectivity that explains how clausal adverbials can function as discourse connectives (due in part to information structure) and how information structure in turn influences the interpretation of discourse adverbials.

References
[Asher 1993] Nicholas Asher. Reference to Abstract Objects in Discourse. Boston MA: Kluwer, 1993.
[Forbes 2003] Katherine Forbes. Discourse Semantics of S-Modifying Adverbials. PhD dissertation. Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, 2003.
[Forbes-Riley et al 2005] Katherine Forbes-Riley, Bonnie Webber and Aravind Joshi. Computing Discourse Semantics: The Predicate-Argument Semantics of Discourse Connectives in D-LTAG. To appear, Journal of Semantics, 2005.
[Knott 1996] Alistair Knott. A Data-driven Methodology for Motivating a Set of Coherence Relations. PhD Thesis, Department of Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh.
[Webber 1991] Bonnie Webber. Structure and Ostension in the Interpretation of Discourse Deixis. Language and Cognitive Processes 6(2), 1991, pp. 107-135.


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