Dària Serés, Joan Borràs-Comes & M.Teresa Espinal


Bridging Inferences and Reference Management: Evidence from an Experimental Investigation in Catalan and Russian

Editorial: Language and Speech (Sage Journals)
Data de publicació: 5 juny, 2023

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This article focuses on the choice of nominal forms in a language with articles (Catalan) in comparison to a language without articles (Russian). An experimental study (consisting of various naturalness judgment tasks) was run with speakers of these two languages which allowed to show that in bridging contexts native speakers’ preferences vary when reference is made to one single individual or to two disjoint referents. In the former case, Catalan speakers chose (in)definite NPs depending on their accessibility to contextual information that guarantees a unique interpretation (or the lack of it) for the entity referred to. Russian speakers chose bare nominals as a default form. When reference is made to two disjoint referents (as encoded by the presence of an additional altre/drugoj “other” NP), speakers prefer an optimal combination of two indefinite NPs (i.e., un NP followed by un altre NP in Catalan; odin “some/a” NP followed by drugoj NP in Russian). This study shows how speakers of the two languages manage to combine grammatical knowledge (related to the meaning of the definite and the indefinite articles and altre in Catalan; and the meaning of bare nominals, odin and drugoj in Russian) with world knowledge activation and accessibility to discourse information.