The University of Sussex

A graph-theoretic approach to the semantics of discourse and anaphora

C.J. Cox

This thesis is concerned with the formal semantic analysis of discourse and anaphora. A formal model-theoretic semantic framework, Graph-Theoretic Semantics (GTS), is developed covering simple extensional English discourse involving singular and plural noun phrase anaphora. In opposition to previous theories of discourse anaphora, (such as Kamp's DRT or Groenendijk and Stokhof's DPL) anaphoric antecedent information is stored and manipulated within the denotational space. Graph-theoretic denotations are utilized for this purpose. Graph vertices describe individuals identified by the interpretation of a discourse. Graph edges describe constraints amongst the individuals described by the graph vertices. The GTS framework treats these {\em denotation} graphs as constraint networks in order to correctly handle the various anaphor-antecedent relations that have been proposed within the literature.

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