- Salience and feature variability in definite descriptions with positive-form vague adjectives
- Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the gap between computational and empirical approaches to reference (PRE-CogSci 2009), Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Book/source title
- Proceedings of the Workshop on the Production of Referring Expressions (PRE-CogSci 2009): Bridging the gap between computational and empirical approaches to reference
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
This paper focuses on definite descriptions involving positive-form vague adjectives such as ‘tall’, ‘big’ or ‘heavy’. A characteristic feature of descriptions such as ‘the big triangle’ is that they can be used to refer to an object that differs from others only in the extent to which it possesses the property expressed by the adjective, even if that property would not generally be judged to be true of the object. We investigate the constraints that license the production of a definite description involving a vague adjective in the positive form and propose an approach that stresses the role of salience (modelled by means of a clustering algorithm) and the influence of feature variability (i.e. the variability of the range of values along a particular dimension such as size) within the conceptual categories that determine the domain of the adjective.
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