Discourse semantics with information structure

Noortje Venhuizen, Johan Bos, Petra Hendriks, Harm Brouwer

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    The property of projection poses a challenge to formal semantic theories, due to its apparent non-compositional nature. Projected content is therefore typically analyzed as being different from and independent of asserted content. Recent evidence, however, suggests that these types of content in fact closely interact, thereby calling for a more integrated analysis that captures their similarities, while respecting their differences. Here, we propose such a unified, compositional semantic analysis of asserted and projected content. Our analysis captures the similarities and differences between presuppositions, anaphora, conventional implicatures and assertions on the basis of their information structure, that is, on basis of how their content is contributed to the unfolding discourse context. We formalize our analysis in an extension of the dynamic semantic framework of Discourse Representation Theory (DRT)—called Projective DRT (PDRT)—that employs projection variables to capture the information-structural aspects of semantic content; different constellations of such variables capture the differences between the different types of projected and asserted content within a single dimension of meaning. We formally derive the structural and compositional properties of PDRT, as well as its semantic interpretation. By instantiating PDRT as a mature semantic formalism, we argue that it paves way for a more focused investigation of the information-structural aspects of meaning.
    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)127-169
    Aantal pagina's43
    TijdschriftJournal of Semantics
    Volume35
    Nummer van het tijdschrift1
    DOI's
    StatusPublished - feb-2018

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