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The Absorption Principle and E-Type Anaphora

J. Mark Gawron; John Nerbonne; Stanley Peters
DFKI, DFKI Research Reports (RR), Vol. 91-12, 1991.


The Absorption Principle is a principle of situation theory which restricts the kinds of parametric information which is available. In particular it rules out abstraction over variable occurrences in paramtetric restrictions (unless the parameter itself is included). In Anaphora and Quantification in Situation Semantics, Gawron and Peters showed that the Absorption Principle has intuitively correct consequences in applications to quantificational and anaphoric semantics, but Sem, Saebo, Verne and Vestre (1990) point out cases of incorrect consequences. The present paper provides an analysis of the problematic cases in which the Absorption Principle is maintained. A key part of the analysis is the postulation that anaphors may have quantified NPs as antecedents, a position which has been vigorously advocated by Evans (1980). As a consequence, anaphors of this type are called `E-Type'. We argue that the pronoun 'it' in the following discourse must be analyzed as E-Type:
Tom has exactly one car. It is red.
We provide an analysis of E-Type anaphora with the following properties: (i) the type of the anaphor is derived from the conservative scope of its antecedent; (ii) its semantics is provided by a choice function; and (iii) there is a pragmatic condition that the choice function not be controlled either by speaker or hearer in the discourse. We demonstrate how this accounts for a wide range of facts, including apparently varying quantificational force.