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Anaphoric Third Person Pronouns and Prosodic Features as Markers of Cohesion in English Spoken Discourse: A Corpus Study Cyril Auran Laboratoire Parole.

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Presentation on theme: "Anaphoric Third Person Pronouns and Prosodic Features as Markers of Cohesion in English Spoken Discourse: A Corpus Study Cyril Auran Laboratoire Parole."— Presentation transcript:

1 Anaphoric Third Person Pronouns and Prosodic Features as Markers of Cohesion in English Spoken Discourse: A Corpus Study Cyril Auran Laboratoire Parole et Langage CNRS UMR Université de Provence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003

2 Oh no, not another study on anaphora … 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Anaphora: a much studied phenomenon numerous fields of research: syntax semantics pragmatics ang language philosophy psycholinguistics prosody several related issues: referent attribution referent accessibility discourse function

3 Well, yes, yet another one, but … 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 This study focuses on: discourse anaphora anaphora and its role in the organisation of discourse the interaction between anaphora and prosodic markers of discourse organisation

4 Well, yes, yet another one, but … 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Central issue: Interaction between discourse cohesion markers in British English More precisely: How do anaphoric pronouns influence resetting phenomena in the marking of discourse cohesion?

5 Summary 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th Corpus study The Aix-MARSEC Corpus Data extraction and analysis Results and discussion 1.Views of discourse discourse as product and process a unified approach to discourse Conclusions and perspectives 2. Cohesion, connectivity and coherence Different approaches to the unity of discourse Anaphoric pronouns and resetting phenomena as markers of cohesion

6 Part I: Two views of discourse 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003

7 Two views of discourse 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Linguistic studies on discourse tend to fall into two categories (Brown & Yule, 1983 ; Di Cristo et al., 2003) : text-as-product view or grammatical approach - discourse as a structured text - main characteristic: cohesion of a set of sentences or utterances discourse-as-process or cognitive-pragmatic approach - focus on the elaboration and the processing of situated discourse - main characteristic: coherence of the cognitive representations triggered by discourse

8 Two views of discourse 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Di Cristo et al A broad and unified approach to discourse Discourse analysis = study of the relations between forms and functions within an interpretative framework Segmentation strategies: Grammatical units Conceptual units Discourse units Contextualisation activities Clause (Miller & Weinert, 1998) both a formal and pragmatic entity (evolution of discourse memory cf. Berrendonner & Reichler-Béguelin, 1989) Topics

9 Part II: Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003

10 Charolles (1988) (inspired by De Beaugrande & Dressler, 1981): several parameters used to account for discourse unity; cohesion: redefined as the marking of relations between utterances or utterance constituents (p. 53, our translation) connectivity: logical-semantic relations (marked by connectives) between propositions and speech acts coherence: interpretability of discourse: Coherence is not a characteristic of texts [...]. The need for coherence, on the contrary, is a sort of a-priori mode of discourse reception Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Different approaches but the same central issue: discourse unity Halliday & Hasan (1976): a text is characterised by its texture, based on cohesion; cohesion presented as a semantic concept relying on the interpretation of elements of the text but focus on the (formal) linguistic expressions (ties)

11 Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 In this study we focus on the marking of cohesion through the use of: Anaphoric third person pronouns and possessive adjectives (he/she/they, him/her/them, his/her/their) Pitch resetting phenomena (high onset pitch values at the beginning of tone groups)

12 Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Anaphoric pronouns and cohesion Some of the most typical discourse cohesion marks: endophoric personal referents (Halliday & Hasan, 1976), members of anaphoric chains (cf. Chastain, 1975); expressions pointing to highly accessible referents (cf. for instance Ariels or Gundels work and Grosz & Sidners Centering Theory) Anaphoric pronouns permit the thematic preservation (Danes, 1974) necessary for discourse to be cohesive

13 Topic-shifts in spoken discourse are prosodically marked as the boundaries of structural units of spoken discourse which take the form of speech paragraphs and have been called paratones (Brown & Yule, 1983). No strict hierarchy view (cf. Hirst, 1998) but some kind of hierarchic structure (cf. the minor vs. major tone group opposition in the (MAR)SEC corpus). Phonetic features: major unit beginning: extra high (F0) onset values pitch reset or resetting (Brown & Yule, 1983; Wichmann, 2000; Couper-Kuhlen, 2001); major unit end: very low pitch, loss of amplitude, lengthy pauses (Brown and Yule, 1983) and creaky voice (Wichmann, 2000). Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Resettings and cohesion:

14 Cohesion, connectivity and coherence 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 More anaphoric marksmore cohesion Lower resettings more cohesion Effects of cohesion markers:

15 Part III: Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003

16 55,000 words, 339 min. and 18 sec. BBC 1980s recordings 11 speaking styles 53 (17 female and 36 male) speakers Orthographic transcription Prosodic annotation: 14 tonetic stress marks Automatic grapheme-to-phoneme conversion Automatic phoneme level alignment Automatic intonation annotation using the Momel-Intsint methodology 8 annotation levels aligned: phonemes, syllable constituents, syllables, words, feet and rythmic units, tone groups. Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 The Aix-MARSEC Corpus An evolution from the SEC and MARSEC corpora SEC Spoken English Corpus MARSEC Machine Readable SEC Aix-MARSEC Alignment of words and tone groups with the signal Conversion of all the TSM to ASCII characters

17 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Data extraction and analysis (1) Extraction of onset F0 values for all the tone groups which contained either a third person anaphoric pronoun or a connective. The whole of the Aix-MARSEC was used, except for the E type of recordings (Daily Service), the quality of which could not guaranty accurate F0 detection). Data extraction: Perl scripts on Aix-MARSEC Praat TextGrids Data analysis: R software

18 Momel methodology (Di Cristo & Hirst, 1986; Hirst et al., 2000) Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Data extraction and analysis (2) Experimental design: one dependent variable: onset F0 value 2 independent variables: - type of tone group (major vs. minor); - anaphoric marker (presence vs. absence) F0 values automatically measured on the modelled curve for the first stressed syllable within a tone group (cf. Wichman, 2000) Total: 12,272 values

19 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Data extraction and analysis (1) Even after logarithmic transform, the distribution of onset F0 values significantly diverged from a normal distribution. All ANOVA results were checked using two-sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests (KST) during transitive and intransitive binary comparisons. Raw distribution Log transformed distribution Normal distribution Kurtosis Skewness Shapiro-Wilk normality test: W= / p < 2.2e-16

20 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Results: Tone Group factor Significant effect ANOVA: F=513.7, p<2e ST difference Hierarchically higher units have higher onset values Lower onset values correspond to minor (i.e. more cohesive) units

21 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Results: Anaphora factor Significant effect ANOVA: F=54.94, p=1.32e ST difference Anaphoric markers of cohesion do influence resetting phenomena « anaphoric » units have higher onset values

22 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 A paradoxical effect ? Discussion AnaphoraHigher resettings Less cohesionMore cohesion Constant resulting degree of cohesion

23 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Discussion A closer look at resetting phenomena Resetting phenomena Discourse constraints More cohesion lower values Planning and Production constraints declination higher values

24 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Discussion Interaction with anaphora Resetting phenomena Anaphora Anaphoric markers Discourse constraints More cohesion lower values Planning and Production constraints declination higher values

25 Conclusions and perspectives 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003

26 Conclusion and Perspectives 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Conclusion … Markers of cohesion seem to interact in complex ways More particularly, anaphoric markers of cohesion influence resetting phenomena This constitutes arguments in favor of a unified approach to discourse taking into account both: the cognitive and pragmatic processes involved in it and their actual realisations in its linguistic product

27 Conclusion and Perspectives 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 … and perspectives Delicate results: Statistical correlations / causality relations Numerous other factors Perspectives Distinction between sentential and discourse markers Speaker-normalised data Other conceptions of resetting phenomena (as a differential value rather than an absolute one) Analyses taking into account both anaphoric markers and connectives (cf. Auran & Hirst, submitted)

28 Thank you for your attention ! ;o) 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th 2003 Presentation available from Details on the Aix-MARSEC project available from

29 Corpus study 6th NWCL International Conference Prosody and Pragmatics – Preston, November 14th-16th ASCII prosodic annotation symbols: _low level ~high level step-up / (high) rise-fall /high \high fall fall-rise /high rise,low rise low fall,\(low rise-fall – not used) \,low fall-rise *stressed but unaccented |minor intonation unit boundary ||major intonation unit boundary (Roach, 1994) Back to the presentation


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