Scholman, Merel; Demberg, Vera

Examples and specifications that prove a point: Distinguishing between elaborative and argumentative discourse relations

Dialogue and Discourse, 8, pp. 53-86, 2017.

Examples and specifications occur frequently in text, but not much is known about how how readers interpret them. Looking at how they’re annotated in existing discourse corpora, we find that anno-tators often disagree on these types of relations; specifically, there is disagreement about whether these relations are elaborative (additive) or argumentative (pragmatic causal). To investigate how readers interpret examples and specifications, we conducted a crowdsourced discourse annotation study. The results show that these relations can indeed have two functions: they can be used to both illustrate / specify a situation and serve as an argument for a claim. These findings suggest that examples and specifications can have multiple simultaneous readings. We discuss the implications of these results for discourse annotation.