Textual Economy Through Close Coupling of Syntax and Semantics

We focus on the production of efficient descriptions of objects, actions and events. We define a type of efficiency, textual economy, that exploits the hearer’s recognition of inferential links to material elsewhere within a sentence. Textual economy leads to efficient descriptions because the material that supports such inferences has been included to satisfy independent communicative goals, and is therefore overloaded in the sense of Pollack [18]. We argue that achieving textual economy imposes strong requirements on the representation and reasoning used in generating sentences. The representation must support the generator’s simultaneous consideration of syntax and semantics. Reasoning must enable the generator to assess quickly and reliably at any stage how the hearer will interpret the current sentence, with its (incomplete) syntax and semantics. We show that these representational and reasoning requirements are met in the SPUD system for sentence planning and realization.
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Arnim von Stechow (2012). Syntax and Semantics: An Overview. In Klaus von Heusinger, Claudia Maienborn & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. De Gruyter Mouton.

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