The production and comprehension of referring expressions: Definite description

John Wiley & Sons Ltd

This paper examines the topic of reference from the perspective of the production and comprehension of definite descriptions. We begin by reviewing evidence that the processes underlying reference production and comprehension are incremental. We then examine how the descriptive content of definite descriptions is selected and processed against a rich context that contains both visual and linguistic information, finding gradient effects that need to be combined. We also discuss the nature of referential domains, concluding that a definite description is not interpreted relative to a single referential domain and is instead influenced by two (and possibly more) domains whose influence is combined. The range of these findings calls for a probabilistic framework of reference that can accommodate gradient patterns.


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Languages and Linguistics Compass

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