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A Unified Annotation Scheme for the Semantic/Pragmatic Components of Definiteness

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2014 by Archna Bhatia, Mandy Simons, Lorraine Levin, Yulia Tsvetkov, Chris Dyer, Jordan Bender

We present a definiteness annotation scheme that captures the semantic, pragmatic, and discourse information associated with noun phrases, which we call communicative functions. A survey of the linguistics literature suggests that definiteness does not express a single communicative function but is a grammaticalization of many such functions, for example, identifiability, familiarity, uniqueness, and specificity. Our annotation scheme unifies ideas from previous research on definiteness while attempting to remove redundancy. The scheme encodes the communicative functions of definiteness rather than the grammatical forms of definiteness. We assume that the communicative functions are largely maintained across languages while the grammaticalization of this information may vary. Corpora that are annotated using communicative functions can be used to train classifiers, offering data-driven insights into the grammaticalization of definiteness in different languages. We release our annotated corpora for English and Hindi as well as sample annotations for Hebrew and Russian, together with an annotation manual.