Reference in discourse: Processing pronouns and demonstratives



Project supported by a grant of the Ministery of Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI.

Project: PN-III-P1-1.1-TE-2016-1241, within PNCDI III.

Principal investigator: Dr. Sofiana Iulia Lindemann (nee Chiriacescu)


Funding period: 24 months, 2018-2020

About the project

This project aims to shed light on the mechanisms involved in reference resolution by investigating the referential properties of two types underspecified forms in Romanian and German, namely personal pronouns and demonstratives. Contrary to previous research, we explore not only the backward-looking function of these expressions (i.e. the status previously occupied by the referents associated to these expressions in the previous discourse), but investigate their forward-looking function (e.g. signalling a probable topic shift) as well.

We explore how these two functions are modulated by prominence or accessibility-related factors, including verbal implicit causality, grammatical function and topicality. Furthermore, we experimentally test the impact of these factors in local discourse (i.e. between two adjacent sentences) and in global discourse (i.e. between more than two adjacent sentences) through behavioural measures by means of sentence-continuation studies and questionnaires. On a more general level, the project aims at developing a discourse model that will allow us to describe some key features of local and global discourse processing.

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