Coherence Understanding Through Cohesion Markers: The Case of Child Spoken Language

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11096)


Coherence and cohesion are crucial for organizing text semantics and syntax. They both may be described in terms of topic-focus structure, but the surface syntactic topic-focus structure does not coincide with that of deep semantics, and the automatic analysis of coherence which refers to the meaning of the whole text is complicated. The paper presents a Topic-Focus Annotating Parser (TFAP) that was trained on the corpus of Russian unprepared child oral narratives (213 narratives elicited by native Russian children aged from two years seven months to seven years six months). According to the results, children develop their narrative skills both in coherence and cohesion, but at the earlier stages of language acquisition, parsing errors reflect the speaker’s low level of narrative skills, while at the later stages (from five years seven months to seven years six months), when the basic rules of narrative organization are already acquired, parsing errors may be caused by the deficiencies of the parser. The topic-focus schemes we obtained support Leonid Sakharny’s theoretical approach to cognitive representation of coherence.


Child language Topic-Focus Annotating Parser Cohesion Coherence Spoken narrative 



The work is supported by the research grant number 16-04-50114 (dir. P. Eismont) from the Russian Foundation for Humanities and the research grant number MК-6776.2018.6 (dir. E. Riekhakaynen) from the President of the Russian Federation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Petersburg State University of Aerospace InstrumentationSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Saint-Petersburg State UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia

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