The causes and consequences explicit in verbs
Author(s)Tenenbaum, Joshua B.; Hartshorne, Joshua; O'Donnell, Timothy John
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Interpretation of a pronoun in one clause can be systematically affected by the verb in the previous clause. Compare Archibald angered Bartholomew because he … (he = Archibald) with Archibald criticised Bartholomew because he … (he = Bartholomew). While it is clear that meaning plays a critical role, it is unclear whether that meaning is directly encoded in the verb or, alternatively, inferred from world knowledge. We report evidence favouring the former account. We elicited pronoun biases for 502 verbs from seven Levin verb classes in two discourse contexts (implicit causality and implicit consequentiality), showing that in both contexts, verb class reliably predicts pronoun bias. These results confirm and extend recent findings about implicit causality and represent the first such study for implicit consequentiality. We discuss these findings in the context of recent work in semantics, and also develop a new, probabilistic generative account of pronoun interpretation.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
Hartshorne, Joshua K., Timothy J. O’Donnell, and Joshua B. Tenenbaum. “The Causes and Consequences Explicit in Verbs.” Language, Cognition and Neuroscience (February 9, 2015): 1–19.
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