Centering Theory and the Processing of Parentheticals

Anne Louise Bezuidenhout
University of South Carolina
Centering Theory (CT) as articulated by Grosz et al. (1995) is a theory intended to model some of the factors that influence local coherence in a discourse. The idea is that at any one time there are a number of entities that are at the center of attention. Each utterance n that makes up a discourse potentially has two sorts of discourse ‘centers’, an ordered set of forward-looking centers, Cf(uttn), that provide potential links to upcoming utterances, and a single backward-looking center, Cb(uttn), that links back to the previous utterance, in the sense that it is identical to one of the members of the set of forward-looking centers of the previous utterance. Roughly, one can think of Cb(uttn) as the current topic of the conversation. The members of the set Cf(uttn) on the other hand are the entities mentioned in the utterance and which are candidates to become the next topic of conversation. The members of Cf(uttn) are ranked in order of their salience. The most highly ranked member of Cf(uttn) is the preferred center, Cp(uttn), and ideally it will become the backward-looking center of the next utterance, Cb(uttn+1). When Cb(uttn) is the most highly ranked member of Cf(uttn), this indicates that it will continue to be the topic of conversation in the next utterance. If this does indeed happen, we have what is known in CT as a CONTINUE transition. When some entity other than Cb(uttn) is the most highly ranked member of Cf(uttn), an upcoming topic shift is signaled. This situation is known in CT as a RETAIN. A topic shift following a RETAIN will be a SMOOTH SHIFT. If the topic shifts to an entity that is neither the preferred center of the current nor of the previous utterance, then the shift will be a ROUGH..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,343
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Bach on Behalf of Russell.Murali Ramachandran - 1995 - Analysis 55 (4):283 - 287.
Indexicals and Demonstratives.John Perry - 1997 - In Bob Hale & Crispin Wright (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwell. pp. 486--612.
Truth and What is Said.Elia Zardini - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):545-574.
The Impurity of “Pure” Indexicals.Allyson Mount - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (2):193 - 209.
The Optimization of Discourse Anaphora.David I. Beaver - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (1):3-56.


Added to PP index

Total views
12 ( #781,184 of 2,445,379 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,131 of 2,445,379 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes