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Nominal classification: does it play a role in referent disambiguation?

Feist, Timothy (2019) Nominal classification: does it play a role in referent disambiguation? Studies in Language.

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Abstract

It is often claimed that reference tracking is a key function of nominal classification systems, not least because of the role such systems can play in referent disambiguation. This paper reports on the results of a comparative study of reference in texts from four languages, focussing specifically on the disambiguating function of nominal classification. The results strongly suggest that disambiguation is not a primary function of nominal classification systems. While gender and/or classifiers sometimes contribute to the avoidance of referential conflict, the reality is that the conditions have to be just right – all competing references must be of opposing genders, and those genders must be formally distinct – and this happens with surprisingly low frequency. We are better off viewing disambiguation as a convenient byproduct of nominal classification systems that a language can exploit when conditions allow.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Feist, Timothyt.feist@surrey.ac.uk
Date : 2019
Funders : Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Grant Title : Combining gender and classifiers in natural language,
Copyright Disclaimer : This accepted article is © John Benjamins Publishing Company 2019. The publisher should be contacted for permission to re-use or reprint this material in any form.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Nominal classification; Gender; Classifiers; Referent; Disambiguation; Reference tracking; Referential conflict
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 22 Aug 2019 10:25
Last Modified : 22 Aug 2019 10:25
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/852461

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