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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 et Langage CNRS UMR6057 - Université de Provence cyril.auran@lpl.univ-aix.fr.

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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 et Langage

CNRS UMR6057 - Université de Provence

cyril.auran@lpl.univ-aix.fr

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

oh no not another study on anaphora

“Oh no, not another study on anaphora …”

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

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

well yes yet another one but

“Well, yes, yet another one, but …”

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

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

well yes yet another one but4

“Well, yes, yet another one, but …”

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?

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

summary

Views of discourse

    • discourse as product and process
    • a unified approach to discourse

Summary

2. Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

  • Different approaches to the unity of discourse
  • Anaphoric pronouns and resetting phenomena as markers of cohesion

3. Corpus study

  • The Aix-MARSEC Corpus
  • Data extraction and analysis
  • Results and discussion

Conclusions and perspectives

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

part i two views of discourse

Part I: Two views of discourse

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

two views of discourse

Two views of discourse

  • 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

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

two views of discourse8

Two views of discourse

Di Cristo et al. 2003

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

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

part ii cohesion connectivity and coherence

Part II: Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

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

cohesion connectivity and coherence

Different approaches but the same central issue:

discourse unity

Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

  • 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”
  • 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”)

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

cohesion connectivity and coherence11

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)

Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

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

cohesion connectivity and coherence12

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 Ariel’s or Gundel’s work and Grosz & Sidner’s “Centering Theory”)
    • Anaphoric pronouns permit the thematic preservation (Danes, 1974) necessary for discourse to be cohesive

Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

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

cohesion connectivity and coherence13

Resettings and cohesion:

Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

  • 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).
  • 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).

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

cohesion connectivity and coherence14

Cohesion, connectivity and coherence

Effects of cohesion markers:

More anaphoric marks more cohesion

Lower resettings more cohesion

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

part iii corpus study

Part III: Corpus study

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

corpus study

Corpus study

The Aix-MARSEC Corpus

An evolution from the SEC and MARSEC corpora

SEC

Spoken English Corpus

Aix-MARSEC

MARSEC

Machine Readable SEC

  • 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.
  • Alignment of words and tone groups with the signal
  • Conversion of all the TSM to ASCII characters
  • 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

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

corpus study17

Corpus study

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

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

corpus study18

Momel methodology (Di Cristo & Hirst, 1986; Hirst et al., 2000)

Corpus study

Data extraction and analysis (2)

  • Experimental design:
  • one dependent variable: onset F0 value

F0 values automatically measured on the modelled curve for the first stressed syllable within a tone group (cf. Wichman, 2000)

Total: 12,272 values

  • 2 independent variables:
  • - type of tone group (“major” vs. “minor”);
  • - anaphoric marker (“presence” vs. “absence”)

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

corpus study19

Corpus study

Data extraction and analysis (1)

Even after logarithmic transform, the distribution of onset F0 values significantly diverged from a normal distribution.

Shapiro-Wilk normality test: W=0.7852 / p < 2.2e-16

All ANOVA results were checked using two-sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests (KST) during transitive and intransitive binary comparisons.

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

corpus study20

Results: Tone Group factor

Corpus study

Significant effect

ANOVA: F=513.7, p<2e-16

4.5 ST difference

Hierarchically higher units have higher onset values

Lower onset values correspond to minor (i.e. more cohesive) units

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

corpus study21

Results: Anaphora factor

Corpus study

Significant effect

ANOVA: F=54.94, p=1.32e-13

3.9 ST difference

Anaphoric markers of cohesion do influence resetting phenomena

« anaphoric » units have higher onset values

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

corpus study22

Discussion

Corpus study

A paradoxical effect ?

Anaphora

Higher resettings

More cohesion

Less cohesion

Constant resulting degree of cohesion

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

corpus study23

Planning and Production constraints

declination

higher values

Discourse constraints

More cohesion

lower values

Discussion

Corpus study

A closer look at resetting phenomena

Resetting phenomena

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

corpus study24

Planning and Production constraints

declination

higher values

Discussion

Corpus study

Anaphora

Anaphoric markers

Interaction with anaphora

Resetting phenomena

Discourse constraints

More cohesion

lower values

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

conclusions and perspectives

Conclusions and perspectives

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

conclusion and perspectives

Conclusion …

Conclusion and Perspectives

  • 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

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

conclusion and perspectives27

… and perspectives

Conclusion 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)

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

thank you for your attention o

Thank you for your attention !;o)

Presentation available from http://www.lpl.univ-aix.fr/~auran/

Details on the Aix-MARSEC project available from http://www.lpl.univ-aix.fr/~EPGA/

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

corpus study29

Corpus study

14 ASCII prosodic annotation symbols:

(Roach, 1994)

  • , low rise
  • ‘ low fall
  • ,\ (low rise-fall – not used)
  • \, low fall-rise
  • * stressed but unaccented
  • | minor intonation unit boundary
  • || major intonation unit boundary
  • _ low level
  • ~ high level
  • < step-down
  • > step-up
  • /’ (high) rise-fall
    • ‘/ high
    • \ high fall fall-rise
    • / high rise

Back to the presentation

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