Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 437-493

First online:

Temporal interpretation, discourse relations and commonsense entailment

  • Alex LascaridesAffiliated withHuman Communication Research Centre, University of Edinburgh
  • , Nicholas AsherAffiliated withIMS, University of StuttgartUniversity of Texas

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This paper presents a formal account of how to determine the discourse relations between propositions introduced in a text, and the relations between the events they describe. The distinct natural interpretations of texts with similar syntax are explained in terms of defeasible rules. These characterise the effects of causal knowledge and knowledge of language use on interpretation. Patterns of defeasible entailment that are supported by the logic in which the theory is expressed are shown to underly temporal interpretation.