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Attention-centred Information in Language Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) MIC Sorbonne.

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Presentation on theme: "Attention-centred Information in Language Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) MIC Sorbonne."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attention-centred Information in Language Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) Hélène WŁODARCZYK Université Paris-Sorbonne (CELTA) MIC Sorbonne 2012 New Standards for Language Studies

2 Attention: from psychology to language Attention defines the mental ability to select stimuli, responses, memories, or thoughts that are behaviourally relevant, among the many others that are behaviourally irrelevant. (Corbetta, 1998, p. 831). it is likely that the most accessible (e.g., visually most salient) referent will be articulated before other referents taking part in the event and that it will be assigned as the most prominent grammatical constituent, for example, the Subject. (Myachikov et al. 2009). From Russell Tomlins investigations. See prof. Franz Stachowiaks presentation at this workshop.

3 From Mental Representation to Linguistic Utterance Example of a mental representation (what a speaker means): Semantic Situation : a man, a dog Spatial Anchor: a park, Temporal Anchor: the time of the speech act (present) To build a linguistic utterance on the basis of a mental representation the speaker may choose in the limits of his/her own langage a point of view on the situation and propose or impose it on the hearer. (1) The speaker chooses a verb to refer to the situation from a certain point of view but this verb imposes its valence. (2) The speaker then (a) chooses among the participants or anchors of the situation his/her main centre of attention (CA); (b) assigns to the whole utterance or only to one distinguished CA contrasting with the rest a meta-informative old or new status.

4 Cultural and Individual Subjectivity in Natural Language Utterances 1. Cultural choices are imposed on the speaker by his/her language conventions including lexical means and grammaticized concepts e.g. the use of honorifics or personal morphemes with a verb, the use of honorifics or personal morphemes with a verb, the canonical word-order of subject, object and verb, the canonical word-order of subject, object and verb, the use of an article in each noun phrase, the use of an article in each noun phrase, the use of one of the Tense or Aspect value available in a given language the use of one of the Tense or Aspect value available in a given languageetc. 2. The speakers individual choices (depending on his discourse strategy) among the alternative constructions available in his/her language: e.g. the choice of an active, passive or impersonal constructionthe choice of an active, passive or impersonal construction the choice of a verb among several lexemes refering to the same situation from different points of view: sell or buy, give or receive,the choice of a verb among several lexemes refering to the same situation from different points of view: sell or buy, give or receive,etc.

5 The communicative field common to hearer and speaker The communicative field common to hearer and speaker In order to communicate information about his mental representations, the speaker has to create a communicative field making it possible to build an utterance which can be understood by the hearer In this field the speaker proposes to the hearer distinguished chunks of information (his/her Centres of Attention worded as Attention-Driven Phrases) and attaches to them old or new meta-informative status. Cf. Tomorrow Prof. Yasunari Harada and Dr Dorota Zielinska will give deeper insight into the communicative field

6 What is Information ? In the age of unification of cognitive sciences, the term information should be used similarly in linguistics and in information (computer) science. We consider Information as the semantic content of an utterance. Information The components of semantic situations are: Information is produced when relations are established between entities. The components of semantic situations are: (1) static or dynamic frames (states, events and processes), (2) their roles (enacted by animate agents and/or inanimate figures) (3) and anchors (indicators of spatio-temporal relations). In linguistic messages information is always partial: speakers express only what is obligatory (grammaticized in their language) and what is relevant from their point of view i.e. what they pay attention to.

7 What is Meta-Information ? Meta-Information is information about another information. In order to achieve the ordering of non-linear mental representations as texts (sequences of linguistic utterances), the speaker must select one or more Centre(s) of Attention (CA) and predicate about it/them. Although meta-information belongs to the pragmatic dimension of language it is not a mere supplement to the semantic and syntactic structures of utterances. What linguists usually call information structure following the Prague Schools tradition we name meta-information.

8 Meta-Informative Old or New status and Truth Validity of an Utterance The semantic validation of utterances as True or False is well known in logic and linguistics. But linguistic messages are always also characterised by another type of validation : they have to be introduced into discourse either as Old or New information, also called Given and New by linguists. This need to introduce information as old or new gives rise to what we call the meta-informative status of utterances. We propose to distinguish thoroughly between information as a piece of knowledge about a situation (as a representation of the world) and predication as communication about it. Truth validity concerns information itself whereas O/N meta-informative status concerns predication. Many problems in linguistic science arise from the confusion of these two levels.

9 Attention-Driven Phrases Expressing Centres of Attention In order to communicate non-linear semantic information the speaker has to select one of the participants of the semantic situation as the global primary centre of attention. And he/she may select another participant as a the local secondary centre of attention. A segment of an expression representing an element of a semantic situation or a whole situation is centered (treated by the speaker as a Centre of Attention) if it has been distinguished among other elements or situations by linguistic meta-informative markers (syntactic, morphological, prosodic or any pragmatic marker).

10 Centres of Attention in the MIC theory In the MIC theory, we treat Subject, Object, Topic and Focus as resulting from the choice of a Centre of Attention (CA) and consider them not only as psychological phenomena but also as segments of linguistic utterances: Attention-Driven Phrases (ADP). No judgment may be made without selecting at least one Centre of Attention (CA). Centering is a structuring operation within the utterance not only within a text as in the American Centering Theory. Grosz B. J., Joshi A.K., Weinstein S. (1995) Centering: a framework for Modeling the Local Coherence of Discourse, Computational Linguistics, Vol. 21, Nr 2, 1995, p

11 Meta-informative and Semantic Patterns The choice of a verb implies a point of view on the relation between the participants of the situation. In Indo-European languages, when one of the participant is an animate being or a human being acting as an agent it is likely to be chosen as the main centre of attention (anthropocentric point of view). A non human or non animate entity will be more frequently treated as a secondary centre of attention. Verb valency determines the canonical word order in the unmarked voice, i. e. the active voice in nominative (non-ergative) languages. Linguistic devices make it possible to change the CA of a situation: Lexical voice transformation (passivization), makes it possible for the speaker to choose which participant will be the global CA: to buy/to sell, to give/to receive, donner/recevoir, kriegen/bekommen. Grammatical devices: word-order, active, passive, or impersonal voice.

12 Linearisation of Semantic and Pragmatic Contents Subject : (Predicate (Object)) Semantic level Information Pragmatic level Meta-information Role : means #2 #2 Mary treats Peter with aspirin. Mary treats Peter with aspirin Only the semantic median role (means) is expressed directly in the utterance.

13 The Meta-Informative Level : Subject and Predicate #1 Mary treats Peter. SIT : treat (Active role : Mary ) (Passive role : Peter) Semantic level Information Pragmatic level Meta-information Subject Predicate Object

14 The Meta-Meta-Informative Level: Predication and its Extension SIT : treat (Active role :) (Active role :Mary ) (Passive role :) (Passive role : Peter)Semantics information Topic Comment Background Extension Focus meta-information Pragmatics Subject Predicate Object Predication Utterance : As for Mary, it is Peter that she treats.

15 Base and Extended Utterances duality of meta-informative status Each utterance contains at least one centre of attention (CA). The CA may be either of the same or of a different (Old or New) meta-informative status than the rest of the utterance. In a base utterance there is no contrast between the status of the global CA and that of the rest of the utterance: it is either all New or all Old. Centres of attention of extended utterances contrast with the rest of the utterance. The Topic bearing an Old meta-informative status is in contrast with the New Comment, the Focus of New meta- informative status is in contrast with the Old Background (O).

16 Types of Utterances and their CAs UTTERANCE TYPE Global Centre of Attention Statement Local Centre of Attention BASE (O or N) Subject Predicate (O or N) VerbObject EXTENDED (O & N) Topic (O) Comment (N) Background (O) Focus (N) N.B. Base and extended utterances (pragmatic units) should be distinguished from simple and complex sentences (syntactic units). Base utterances are either entirely New or Old. In extended utterances, the Topic bearing an Old meta-informative status is in contrast with the New Comment, the Focus with its New meta-informative status is in contrast with the Old Background (O).

17 Homogenous and contrasting meta-informative statuses Base Utterance Schemas Base Utterance (Examples) (New) Subject : (New) Predicate #1 A new satellite has been launched today. (Old) Subject : (Old) Predicate #2 Satellites turn around the Earth. Extended Utterance Schemas Extended Utterance (Examples) (Old) Topic : (New) Comment #3 As regards satellite, X03 it has been destroyed by a meteorite. (New) Focus : (Old) Background #4 It is satellite X03 which was destroyed today.

18 Meta-informative pivots of discourse Pragmatic levels Centres of Attention GlobalLocal Meta-Level 1 : base Utterance SubjectObject Meta-Level 2 : Extended Utterance TopicFocus Meta-Level 3 : Dialogue/Text General GeneralThemeParticularTheme N.B. Level ø corresponds to the situation itself, it is not expressed directly in linguistic utterances. In case of a binary relation, it can be represented by the logical formula p(x, y) in which x enacts the active role and y the passive role.

19 Patterns of Situations in Language: Verbs and Noun Phrases Verbs subcategorize (traditionally govern) NPs which point at different dimensions of language : semantics and pragmatics. The verb valence is an heterogenous bag of relations: the subject and direct object are Attention- driven Phrases expressing centres of attention. Indirect objects (expressed by PPs prepositional phrases or NPs in oblique cases) point at semantic roles and anchors thanks to their case marker or to the preposition with which they occur The Subject and Direct Object as Centres of Attention combine freely with semantic roles: #1 A car (subject) hit a pedestrian. #2 A pedestrian (subject) was hit by a car. But there is a default relation between the subject of an active verb and the active role, the direct object and the passive role in the semantic situation pattern #3 The doctor (subject) treated the patient (direct object) with antibiotics (indirect object: means).

20 Subject and Object are Attention-Driven Phrases Expressing Centres of Attention The of the utterance is the most important and global Attention- Driven Phrase (ADP) about which the speaker predicates. The subject of the utterance is the most important and global Attention- Driven Phrase (ADP) about which the speaker predicates. A may be expressed as the, the second ADP A secondary centre of attention may be expressed as the object, the second ADP the subject and DO (direct object) may be viewed as the grammaticalized primary and secondary topic of the discourse at the time when the clause in which they partake is being processed. (Givon 1994, 198) Givón, T., 1994, "The Pragmatics of Voice : Functional and Typological Aspects" Givon, T. (ed.), Voice and Inversion, Typological Studies in Language 28, Amsterdam-Philadelphia, John Benjamins, pp N.B. what Givon calls topic we call more generally the centre of attention.

21 Attention- Driven Phrases and other NPs in a Base Utterance The difference between so-called abstract cases (Nom and Acc) and concrete cases (Dat, Inst, Loc etc. ) appeared as a serendipityresult in our interactive investigation of the Polish gender with the SEMANA software. The difference between so-called abstract cases (Nom and Acc) and concrete cases (Dat, Inst, Loc etc. ) appeared as a serendipity result in our interactive investigation of the Polish gender with the SEMANA software. This is shown on the next slide by the results of the STAT 3 analysis of the Polish adjective declension morphemes (seen as syntactic relators). WLODARCZYK André & Hélène (2008) & SAUVET Georges, "Morphological Data Exploration - Using The Semana Platform" (Feature Granularity Problem in the Definition of Polish Gender)", CASK Sorbonne 2008 (Language Data Mining) International conference, June, 13th-14th, 2008, Université Paris-Sorbonne – Paris 4 This entire ppt is downloadable from the webpage sorbonne.fr/anasem/papers/

22 PROJECTION DANS LE PLAN FACTORIEL [1,2] | Horizontal: Axe #2 (Inertie: 12.81%) Vertical: Axe #1 (Inertie: 13.05%) | Largeur: ; Hauteur: ; Nombre de points : tem | | | 00 | | tej | 00 | | | 00 | | dat | 00 | | | 00 | sin| | 00 | te* tego | | 10 ta to ten | | 00 | | | 00 | | tym ta* | 00 | | | inahum---gen | nhumas | 20 | nom acc fem| | 10 | neu| loc | 00 | | | 00 | | ins | 00 | | | 00 | plu | 00 | | | 00 | ci | tych | 10 | te | | 00 | | | 00 | | tymi| axis 2 axis On one side: ta, to, ten, te*, ci, te are only nomin. and/or accus. On the other side: tej, tych, temu, tymi, ta*, tymi are only genitive, locative, dative and/or instrum. On one side: ta, to, ten, te*, ci, te are only nomin. and/or accus. On the other side: tej, tych, temu, tymi, ta*, tymi are only genitive, locative, dative and/or instrum. tego may be either accusative or genitive Axis 2 separates syntactic relators

23 How many Attention-Driven Phrases are there in one Utterance ? is it possible to express more than two centres of attention by more than two attention-driven phrases in one utterance ? There can be only two attention-driven phrases on the meta-informative level: one subject and one (direct) object in one base utterance. But the subject (or the object) can be a group of coordinated NPS: (1) Peter and Mary bought fruits and candies.

24 Are there more than one local CA in one utterance ? In those sentences where two objects (direct and indirect) co-occur, or where adverbial and/or prepositional NPs cooccur with direct objects, are they cases of double Local CA? Are they to be regarded as members of a single Local CA? When there seems to be two local ADPs in addition to the Subject, there is no doubt that one of them is either a topicalised or focalised phrase (the CA of the meta-meta-informative level), i.e. neither a "second" nor double subject, nor a "second" nor double object. André Wlodarczyk (2007 in Japanese) revisited the question ofdouble subject André Wlodarczyk (2007 in Japanese) revisited the question of double subject in Japanese utterances and came to the conclusion that when taking into acount the meta-meta-informative level a base utterance entails only one subject. The problem of double objects in some languages (German) remains to be investigated in the MIC framework.

25 Are Indirect Objects Attention-Driven Phrases in Base Utterances ? The question arises: when a verb governs more than one objects are they all attention-driven NPs ? Only the subject and direct object of a verb are attention-driven phrases, the other NPs are indirect objects and adjuncts introduced by case markers or prepositions pointing at the semantic role (or the type of anchor) of the entity they refer to. The question of give verbs in English Bill gave a flower to his wife. -> A flower was given by Bill to his wife Bill gave his wife a flower. -> She was given a flower by her husband. The object which can be transformed into the subject of the verb in the passive voice can be considered a direct object (the local CA).

26 Examples (1) John opened the door with his key. --- is a base utterance: "the door" is the Object, "with his key" is not meta-informatively centred. (2a) John gave Mary a book. -- is a base utterance: "Mary" is an Object. The phrase "book" is not meta-informatively centred (it is not an object because it is not in the prime post verbal position). (2b) John gave a book to Mary. -- is an extended utterance: "a book" is an Object and "to Mary" is a Focus of the beneficiary role.

27 Combination of Centres of Attention of the Meta- and Meta-Meta-Informative Level Base utterance with two CAs: the subject and the object (1)René Descartes published the Discourse on the Method in 1637 in Leiden (Netherlands). Extended utterance with three or four CAs : the subject and the object of the meta-informative level ad the topic and/or focus of the meta-meta- informative level can combine in one utterance (2) As concerns the Discourse on the Method, the author, the French philosopher René Descartes had to publish it abroad. (3) It is in Leiden (Netherlands) that René Descartes first published the Discourse on the Method. (4) As concerns the Discourse on the Method, it is in Leiden (Netherlands) that René Descartes first published it.

28 More than one Topic but only one Focus ? It is a well known fact that in spoken French it is possible to have several topics one after the other: (1)Moi, ma femme, sa voiture, elle est tombée en panne sur lautoroute. Lit. me, my wife, her car, it broke down on the motorway. Lit. me, my wife, her car, it broke down on the motorway. We found three utterances with two topics in a database of 580 Polish utterances. However, we did not find in the same db examples with more than one focus. This has to be verified on larger corpuses and in different languages

29 CAs of the meta-meta-informative level and their anaphorical resumption One centre of attention may correspond to two attention-driven phrases in the same utterance; this is the case in languages where attention-driven phrases of the first meta-informative level (subject and object) are not marked by a case morpheme and have to be referred to by an anaphoric pronoun after they have been left-dislocated by topicalisation or focalisation. (1) The flowers, Peter bought them. (2) It is Peter who bought the flowers. In utterances (1) and (2) the CAs of the extended utterance are replaced int the background or comment part by an anaphoric pronoun: who and they. In a language with case morphemes and explicit personal morpheme in the verbform no anaphoric resumption is necessary e.g. in Polish: (1 bis) Kwiaty kupił Piotr. (2 bis) To Piotr kupił kwiaty.

30 Conclusion We assume that there are only two attention-driven phrases on the meta-informative level: one subject and one object in a base utterance. But, on the meta-meta-informative level, i.e. in an extended utterance, it is possible to add new centres of attention : one, or even more topics and one focus. It is doubtful whether there can be more than one focus in an extended utterance. For the time being it is necessary to verify the above assumption on large corpuses and with native speaker informants.

31 © Hélène WLODARCZYK


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