Within the Givenness Hierarchy framework of Gundel, Hedberg, & Zacharski (1993), lexical items included in referring forms are assumed to conventionally encode two kinds of information: conceptual information about the speaker’s intended referent and procedural information about the assumed cognitive status of that referent in the mind of the addressee, the latter encoded by various determiners and pronouns. The current work focuses on effects of underspecification of cognitive status, establishing that, while salience and degree of accessibility play an important role in reference processing, the Givenness Hierarchy itself is not a hierarchy of degrees of salience/accessibility, contrary to what has often been assumed. We thus show that the framework is able to account for a number of experimental results in the literature without making additional assumptions about form-specific constraints associated with different referring forms.
Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg, and Ron Zacharski. Forthcoming. Underspecification of Cognitive Status in Reference Production: Some Empirical Predictions. Topics in Cognitive Science (pdf)
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