Crible, Ludivine; Demberg, Vera
When Do We Leave Discourse Relations Underspecified? The Effect of Formality and Relation Type
Speakers have several options when they express a discourse relation: they can leave it implicit, or make it explicit, usually through a connective. Although not all connectives can go with every relation, there is one that is particularly frequent and compatible with very many discourse relations, namely and. In this paper, we investigate the effect of discourse relation type and text genre on the production and perception of underspecified relations of contrast and consequence signalled by and. We combine a corpus study of spoken English, a production experiment and a perception experiment in order to test two hypotheses: (1) and is more compatible with relations of consequence than of contrast, due to factors of cognitive complexity and conceptual differences; (2) and is more compatible with informal than formal genres, because of requirements of recipient design. The three studies partially converge in identifying a stable effect of relation type and genre on the production and perception of underspecified relations of consequence and contrast marked by and.