Finite-state methods, binding, and anaphora

Dick Oehrle (University of Arizona)

Broadly construed, dynamic semantics views interpretation as a process that is both context-dependent and context-affecting. Context-dependence is illustrated most dramatically by indexicals; context-affectingness by the interpretation of indefinites. But the framework is quite general: schematically, we can represent the interpretation of an expression ß as


where C represents the input context and C' the output context. This schematic representation raises obvious questions:

Answering these questions in different ways fills in a broad landscape of different approaches to binding and anaphora: for example, we may take the contexts C and C' to be Discourse Representation Structures (Kamp & Reyle, 1993), variable assignment functions (Groenendijk & Stokhof, 1991), or a pair of sets representing the global c-commmanders and local c-commanders that the GB Binding Theory (Chomsky, 1982) depends on.

In this paper, we sketch how a dynamic account of English binding and anaphora can be formulated, illustrating how structured contexts can be constructed and accessed as a by-product of grammatical composition in a system of labeled deduction (Oehrle, 1995). Our focus is on the applicability of finite-state methods to the dynamics of interpretation in this system.

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