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Temporal interpretation, discourse relations and commonsense entailment

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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.

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We would like to thank Mimo Caenepeel, Hans Kamp, Marc Moens, Michael Morreau, Jon Oberlander, Jeff Pelletier and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

The support of the Science and Engineering Research Council through project number GR/G22077 is gratefully acknowledged. HCRC is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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Lascarides, A., Asher, N. Temporal interpretation, discourse relations and commonsense entailment. Linguist Philos 16, 437–493 (1993).

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