Discourse Anaphora: A Cognitive-Functional Approach
University of Maine, Farmington
Discourse anaphora has long been the focus of considerable research in such diverse fields as linguistics, psychology, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence because its study is fundamental to our understanding of the relationship among cognitive processes, discourse coherence, and information distribution. In discourse production and comprehension the speaker and hearer have separate and often conflicting processing needs, yet the hearer is able to quickly and uniquely identify various referents coded by given anaphora of the speaker’s choice with the statuses of the referents and their contexts ever-changing. Such a tacit agreement between the speaker and hearer must stem from a collaborative effort in building a congruent mental structure of discourse where referents are introduced, reinstated or discarded, and duly tracked.
This book proposes a cognitive-functional principle to account for how the construction of mental structure determines the use and resolution of discourse anaphora, and provides quantitative, cross-linguistic analyses of empirical and text data to demonstrate how the principle operates in discourse processing. The cross-linguistic study between two historically unrelated languages, Chinese and English, has revealed further that the occurrence and distribution of discourse anaphora is more universal in nature than language-specific.
ISBN 9783862881611. LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 47. 239pp. 2011.