Modi, Ashutosh; Titov, Ivan; Demberg, Vera; Sayeed, Asad; Pinkal, Manfred

Modeling Semantic Expectations: Using Script Knowledge for Referent Prediction

Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, MIT Press, pp. 31-44, Cambridge, MA, 2016.

Recent research in psycholinguistics has provided increasing evidence that humans predict upcoming content. Prediction also affects perception and might be a key to robustness in human language processing. In this paper, we investigate the factors that affect human prediction by building a computational model that can predict upcoming discourse referents based on linguistic knowledge alone vs. linguistic knowledge jointly with common-sense knowledge in the form of scripts. We find that script knowledge significantly improves model estimates of human predictions. In a second study, we test the highly controversial hypothesis that predictability influences referring expression type but do not find evidence for such an effect.