Predicting the use and interpretation of implicit and explicit discourse connectives
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Discourse coherence refers to a set of relations that connect textual units to each other in order to make the discourse understood by comprehenders. The phenomenon that more than one relation can exist between two adjacent clauses is characterized as multiple discourse relations. Various previous works have addressed a discourse semantic or pragmatic account for the study of multiple discourse relations. However, a discourse pragmatic approach about the coexistence of multiple relations has not been investigated. In this dissertation, I focus on this phenomenon in the case when particularly a discourse connective is present. Moreover, a Uniform Information Density hypothesis will be verified (UID, Jaeger, 2006; Levy & Jaeger, 2007) to study language users’ inclusion/omission of connectives at the discourse-level. The UID predicts that speakers’ use of language adopts the flexibility allowed by their language. Speakers optimize their utterance in order to achieve the uniform density, such that linguistic elements with more information are lengthened, and elements with less information shortened. The goals of this dissertation are twofold: (i) to study the coexistence of the multiple relations from a discourse pragmatic view, and (ii) to verify whether the rate at which speakers accept implicit connectives to signal discourse relations reflect the predictability and ease of inference of that relation.