Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expression Outline I

Outline
Cognitive Status and the Form of
Referring Expression
I.
Introduction to the Givenness Hierarchy.
II.
Controversial aspects of the Givenness
Hierarchy: Philosophy of Language.
Nancy Hedberg
III. Future directions: Psycholinguistics.
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• Gundel, Hedberg and Zacharski. Language.
1993, and later work.
I. Introduction to the Givenness
Hierarchy
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• Different determiners and pronominal forms
conventionally signal different cognitive
statuses (information about location in
memory and attention state).
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• The Givenness Hierarchy
in focus > activated > familiar > uniquely > referential > type
identifiable
identifiable
it
this, that,
that N
the N
indefinite
aN
this N
this N
• In Focus
– The addressee can associate with the entity a unique
representation that is in the current focus of attention.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. It kept me awake.
• Each status is a necessary and sufficient condition for
appropriate use of the forms under it.
• Each status entails all lower statuses. If a referent has a
particular status then the form under it or any lower form
can be used.
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• Activated
• Familiar
– The addressee can associate with the entity a unique
representation that is in current working memory.
– Includes the speech participants as well as other entities
in the immediate discourse context.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. That kept me awake.
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– The addressee can associate with the entity a unique
representation that is already in memory somewhere,
perhaps long-term memory.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. That dog (next door) kept
me awake.
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• Referential
– The addressee can associate a unique representation with
the entity by the time the sentence has been processed,
– The speaker intends to refer to a particular object or
objects.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. This dog (next door) kept me
awake. (indefinite this).
• Uniquely Identifiable
– The addressee can associate a unique representation
with the entity by the time the noun phrase has been
processed.
– The addressee will construct a representation of the
referent if he doesn’t already have one in memory.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. The dog (next door) kept me
awake
• Neil: Well, I’ll give you an example what kind of guy Willy is. He
said that he had this love affair with this Ukrainian girl, and he was
so much in love with her and everything, really identified with her
and so on like that. And I said, well where does she come from,
what kind of family was she from. He said, I don’t know, she
didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Russian or Ukrainian.
(Frederickson transcripts)
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Chinese
•
• Type Identifiable
– The addressee can associate a representation of the type
of entity described by the expression.
– I couldn’t sleep last night. A dog kept me awake.
In focus > Activated > Familiar > Uniquely > Referential > Type
Identifiable
Identifiable
Ø
zhe ‘this’
nei N
yi N ‘a N’
ta ‘s/he,it’ nei ‘that’
ØN
zhe N
– Ta zai bisai zhong huo jiang.
He in
game during win prize
‘He won a prize in a/the game’
– Zuotian wanshang wo shui-bu-zhao.
yesterday evening I sleep-not-achieve.
‘ I couldn’t sleep last night.’
Gebi-de nei tiao gou jiao de lihai.
next.door that CLF dog bark ADV extremely
‘The [lit. that] dog next door was barking.’
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• Forms to the right can be used for cognitive
statuses to the left.
– The man wins this time, and the fish that he selects is a
big goldfish which is, at the point when he selects it,
hidden in a rocky formation in the tank, and it’s
impossible for the man conducting the game to get at
the fish with the net. (goldfish stories)
– This is especially true for definite articles in
English and for the null determiner in Chinese:
FOC ACT FAM UID
• English the N
• Chinese Ø N
• √ it, this fish, that fish, the fish
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30 95
12 17
47
14
108
49
REF TID
2
10
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• Maxim of Quantity (Grice 1975)
Q1: Make your contribution as informative as required
(for the current purposes of the exchange)
Q2: Do not make your contribution more informative than
is required.
• I agree with all of what you said.
I agree with some of what you said. ++> not all.
• What explains the choice among forms
when necessary conditions for use of more
than one form are met?
– Horn 1972: Use of a weaker form implicates negation of stronger
form.
• I’ll give you a dollar if you mow the lawn. ++> iff
I’ll give you a dollar if and only if you mow the lawn.
– Atlas & Levinson 1981: Use of a weaker form implicates stronger
form when the meaning associated with the stronger form is
stereotypical.
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Q1
• Since cognitive statuses form an implicational
scale, we expect Quantity implicatures of both
sorts.
– Use of an indefinite article conversationally implicates
that the addressee can’t uniquely identify the referent.
• I met a student before class. A student came to see me after
class as well--in fact it was the same student I had seen before.
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Q2
– Use of a demonstrative pronoun often implicates by Q1
that the referent is not currently in focus, i.e. it signals a
focus shift.
• Anyway going on back from the kitchen then is a little hallway
leading to a window, and across from the kitchen is a big
walk-through closet. On the other side of that is another little
hallway leading to a window.… (personal letter)
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• When demonstrative determiners do occur there is
often a good reason for conveying the stronger
cognitive status information.
– Reminder that uses explicitly signal that the referent is
familiar.
• With full NPs, signaling identifiability is often
enough for their interpretation, and an explicit signal
of a more restrictive status is unnecessary.
• Moreover, familiarity is the most frequent reason for
identifiability, so Q2 induces the stereotypical
interpretation.
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II. Controversial aspects of the
Givenness Hierarchy: Philosophy of
Language.
• Neil:
It was quite hot and everybody was just dying in the heat,
y’know and… […]
Mom: Was that with you and Gary or was it when you were over
at Oxford.
Neil: Oxford, ‘84. […] That was when I bought that tee-shirt,
that real light, real light shirt, y’know.
Mom: Yeah.
(Frederickson transcripts)
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Potential Criticism
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• Possible defense:
• Indexicals and quantifiers are combined on a single scale:
– Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
• Indexicals are linguistic expressions whose reference shifts from
context to context: some paradigm examples are ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘now’,
‘today’,’he’, ‘she’, and ’that’. Two speakers who utter a single sentence
that contains an indexical may say different things.
– it, this, that, this N, that N
• In logical languages, quantifier expressions are variable-binding
operators. Thus, is the familiar operator such that in a formula xφ,
x binds all free occurrences of x in φ. It signifies the quantifier ‘there
exists’.
– In many contexts these forms seem to be interchangeable.
– Definite articles evolve out of distal demonstratives historically
(e.g. English).
– the N, a N
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Bach 2008
•
S4: We generally choose the least informative sort of expression
whose use will enable the hearer to identify the individual we wish to
refer to, but this is not a matter of convention.
• But note: different languages map forms onto the
Givenness Hierarchy differently,
– “Gundel, Hedberg, and Zacharski (1993)…suggest that different
degrees of givenness are not merely associated with but, as a
matter of linguistic convention, are encoded by different types of
singular terms….The parsimonious alternative to Gundel et al.’s
conventionalist view is that the different degrees of givenness
associated with different types of singular terms are not encoded at
all; rather, the correlation is a by-product of the interaction
between semantic information that is encoded by these expressions
and general facts about rational communication.”
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– Chinese: nei N ‘that N’ only needs to be uniquely identifiable.
– Russian: èto N ‘this N’ only needs to be familiar.
• Recall also that speakers don’t always use the descriptively
least informative form.
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Bach 2004
• Gundel et al use the terms “referring expression” and
“referential” wrongly.
– Point 6: With a specific use of an indefinite description,
one is not referring but merely alluding to something.
• “What is distinctive about the specific use of an indefinite
description is that the speaker communicates that he has a
certain individual in mind, but he is not communicating which
individual that is--he does not intend you to identify it.”
– A famous actress will be visiting us today.
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Defense of the Givenness Hierarchy
• We think that with specific indefinites, the speaker intends
to refer to a particular entity, whether the hearer can
identify the particular entity or not.
• We think that with attributive definites, the speaker intends
to refer to a particular entity, whoever or whatever fits the
description, whether the speaker can identify the particular
entity or not.
• This may be a ‘very weak sense’ of ‘reference’,
philosophically, but it is the one at work in the grammars
of natural languages.
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– Point 9: Descriptive ‘reference’ or singling out, is not
genuine reference.
• “Donnellan concedes that there is a kind of reference,
reference in a ‘very weak sense’ associated with the attributive
use of a definite description…Reference in this very weak
sense is too weak to count as genuine reference….”
– The next president, though probably a man, could be a
woman.
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Defense continued: Salish
Languages
• Salish languages provide determiner forms that can be
characterized as “referential” on the Givenness Hierarchy
• Include (most) of the definite determiner uses of English
the.
• These determiners are well described in Matthewson 1998.
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• Sechelt te (masculine) and ®e (feminine)
• Can be used for all cognitive statuses at least
referential:
– Don’t encode definiteness in Heim’s 1982 sense
– Can be used for brand new as well as familiar entities
– See handout.
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Sechelt te/® e N
English the N
Chinese Ø N
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• Don’t encode specificity in Ludlow & Neale’s
1991 sense, where the speaker but not the hearer
can identify the entity.
FOC ACT FAM UID REF TID
4
5
6
2
7
30
95
47
108
12
17
14
49
2
10
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• Matthewson: Instead, they indicate an “assertion
of existence”.
– Context: The speaker has just heard on the telephone that a
teacher is coming. The speaker herself does not know who the
teacher will be. She reports this information to a colleague.
• They contrast with “non-assertion of existence”
determiners like Sechelt ße and St’at’imcets kwu.
St’at’imcets:
xwuz
kwu÷ č÷aš [ti wa÷ čunám-xal]
going.to QUOT come DET PROG teach-INTR
OR
– These are neutral with regard to existence.
xwuz
kwu÷ č÷aš [kwu wa÷ čunám-xal]
going.to QUOT come DET PROG teach-INTR
‘A teacher is coming.’
– But (NH) perhaps tend to implicate non-existence.
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• While these forms can be used attributively, they
do not have all the uses of English definite
determiners.
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• They lack a temporal interpretation which is
independent of the temporal interpretation of the
predicate:
– Demirdache 1996:
– They lack the “individual concept reading” of
English definite descriptions:
– The president of the United States was powerful.
• The president of the United States is powerful.
• For any time, t, whoever is president at t is powerful
at t.
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– St’at’imcets: False if the individual who is the president
now was powerful at some distinct past time (before he
was president).
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• Matthewson 1998: They are not quantificational.
III. Future directions:
Psycholinguistics
• Hedberg: Perhaps in addition to encoding
cognitive status, determiner forms encode
quantificationality as a separate parameter.
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If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
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•
•
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THANK YOU
•
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[email protected]
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•
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Bach, Kent. 2008. On referring and not referring. In Reference: Interdisciplinary
Perspectives, ed. By Jeanette K. Gundel and Nancy Hedberg, 13-58. New York:
Oxford University Press.
Bach, Kent. 2004. Descriptions: Points of reference. In A. Bezuidenhout and M.
Reimer (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond, 189-229. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Demirdache, Hamida. 1996. ‘The chief of the United States’ sentences in
St’at’mcets (Lillooet Salish): A cross-linguistic asymmetry in the temporal
interpretation of noun phrases. Papers for the 31st international conference on
Salish and neighboring languages. 79-100. Vancouver: University of British
Columbia.
Grice, H.P. 1975. Logic and conversation. Speech Acts [Syntax and Semantics 3],
edited by P. Cole and J. Morgan, 41-58. New York: Academic Press.
Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg and Ron Zacharski. 1993. Cognitive status
and the form of referring expression in discourse. Language 69. 274-307.
Heim, Irene. 1982. The semantics of definite and indefinite noun phrases. PhD
dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Ludlow, Peter and Stephen Neale. 1991. Indefinite descriptions: In defense of
Russell. Linguistics and Philosophy 14. 171-202.
Matthewson, Lisa. 1998. Determiner systems and quantificational strategies:
Evidence from Salish. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.
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