Blatantly obvious or unmistakably clear?

Anne-Marie Mineur (Utrecht University)


Since the work of people like Jackendoff and Pustejovsky, we know that
nouns not only introduce simple referents, but an  umfeld  of
presuppositions and implications as well.  When used in discourse,
nouuns therefore increase the richness of the discourse, even to the
extent that the number of discourse referents increases with it.
The problem of resolution of anaphoric expressions becomes equally
complicated.  Bos, Buitelaar and Mineur (1995) show the use of this
richness, but they do not offer a solution for the increased ambiguity.
In recent work Asher and Lascarides argue for the role of discourse
coherence in anaphora resolution: the better the coherence that a
chosen antecedent allows for, the more likely it is that the antecedent
is the right one.

This paper investigates the sources of information that can provide us with antecedents (lexical, semantic, discourse, pragmatic), as well as the interaction between principles that allow us to decide between them. Moreover, it discusses the results of a small study of what people do when faced with ambiguous data. Can discourse coherence overrule world knowledge? Is there a preference for the blatantly obvious, or rather for the unmistakably clear?