To Name or to Describe: Shared Knowledge Affects Referential Form

Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (2):290-305 (2012)
The notion of common ground is important for the production of referring expressions: In order for a referring expression to be felicitous, it has to be based on shared information. But determining what information is shared and what information is privileged may require gathering information from multiple sources, and constantly coordinating and updating them, which might be computationally too intensive to affect the earliest moments of production. Previous work has found that speakers produce overinformative referring expressions, which include privileged names, violating Grice’s Maxims, and concluded that this is because they do not mark the distinction between shared and privileged information. We demonstrate that speakers are in fact quite effective in marking this distinction in the form of their utterances. Nonetheless, under certain circumstances, speakers choose to overspecify privileged names
Keywords Referring expressions  Names  Language production  Common ground  Perspective taking
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DOI 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01182.x
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