Some aspects of optimality in natural language interpretation

Journal of Semantics 17 (3):189-216 (2000)
Abstract
In a series of papers, Petra Hendriks, Helen de Hoop, and Henriette de Swart have applied optimality theory (OT) to semantics. These authors argue that there is a fundamental difference between the from of OT as used in syntax on the one hand and its from as used in semantics on the other hand. Whereas in the first case. OT takes the point of view of the speaker, in the second case the point of view of the hearer is taken. The aim of this paper is to argue that the proper treatment of OT in natural language interpretation has to take both perspectives at the same time. A conceptual framework is established that realizes the integration of both perspectives. It will be argued that this framework captures the essence of the Gricean maxims and gives a precise explication of Atlas & Levinson's (1981) idea of balancing between informativeness and efficiently in natural language processing. The ideas are then applied to resolve some puzzles in natural language interpretation
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