Accessing Noun-Phrase Antecedents offers a radical shift in the analysis of discourse anaphora, from a purely pragmatic account to a cognitive account, in terms of processing procedures. Mira Ariel defines referring expressions as markers signalling the degree of Accessibility in memory of the antecedent. The notion of Accessibility is explicitly defined, the crucial factors being the Salience of the antecedent, and the Unity between the antecedent and the anaphor.
This analysis yields an astonishing array of new results. The precise distribution of referring expressions in actual discourse is directly predicted. Several universals of anaphoric relations are stated. Thus, although not all languages necessarily have the same markers, and nor do they assign them precisely the same function, Ariel shows that they all obey the same Accessibility marking hierarchy.
This book will be compulsory reading for anyone with an interest in the semantics and pragmatics of referring expressions, in the interaction of semantics and pragmatics, and more generally in the interaction between peripheral and central cognitive systems.
Table of Contents
List of tables. Acknowledgements. Introducing Accessibility theory. 0.1. On the role of context 0.2. On the nature of context retrievals 0.21. A ‘geographic’ view of context 0.3. Accessibility and the structure of memory 0.4. Accessibility marking: General predictions 0.41. The distributional pattern of referring expressions 0.42. Factors affecting Accessibility Part 1: Discourse references 1. Low Accessibility referring expressions 1.1. Definite descriptions 1.2. Proper names 1.3. Degrees of Accessibility within Low Accessibility Markers 2. Intermediate Accessibility referring expressions 2.1. Personal pronouns 2.2. Demonstrative pronouns 2.3. Degrees of Accessibility within Intermediate Accessibility Markers 3. High Accessibility Markers 3.1. ‘Deep anaphora’ 3.2. Third-person pronouns 3.3. Degrees of Accessibility within High Accessibility Markers 4. The Accessibility scale 4.1. Constructing the Accessibility scale 4.2. The universality of the Accessibility scale 4.21. Formulating the Universal Accessibility Claim 4.3. Concluding remarks Part 2: Sentence-level anaphora 5. Applying Accessibility theory to sentence-level anaphora 5.1. General predictions 5.2. Replacing the ‘Avoid Pronoun’ principle with Accessibility theory 6. Zero subjects 6.1. The Accessibility status of AGR types: Focus on Hebrew 6.2. Zero subjects: Focus on Chinese 7. Clause-linkage and anaphoric marking 7.1. Clause-linkage and Switch-Reference systems 7.2. Clause-linkage and definite NP anaphora 7.21. Clause-linkage and Resumptive Pronouns 7.22. Clause-linkage and backwards anaphora Part 3: On the interaction of Accessibility with pragmatic and social factors 8. The role of inferencing 8.1. The use of context in reference resolutions 8.2. Inferred entities 8.3. On so-called presuppositions 9. Special uses of Accessibility Markers 9.1. Possible divergences from appropriate Accessibility marking 9.2. Referring the the ‘Other’: Focus on women