Ruth Margaret Kempson

Ruth Margaret Kempson
King's College London | KCL · Philosophy Department

PhD London University

About

145
Publications
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1,863
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2004 - December 2012
King's College London
January 1981 - December 1982
University of London
January 1979 - December 2008
SOAS, University of London

Publications

Publications (145)
Article
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Despite the incremental nature of Dynamic Syntax (DS), the semantic grounding of it remains that of predicate logic, itself grounded in set theory, so is poorly suited to expressing the rampantly context-relative nature of word meaning, and related phenomena such as incremental judgements of similarity needed for the modelling of disambiguation. He...
Article
In everyday conversation, no notion of “complete sentence” is required for syntactic licensing. However, so-called “fragmentary”, “incomplete”, and abandoned utterances are problematic for standard formalisms. When contextualised, such data show that (a) non-sentential utterances are adequate to underpin agent coordination, while (b) all linguistic...
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we explore the idea that independently developed Dynamic Syntax accounts of dialogue and interaction fit well within the general approach of radical embodied and enac-tive accounts of cognition (REEC). This approach enables a rethinking of the grounding of linguistic universal constraints, specifically tree structure restrictions, as...
Chapter
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Relevance, Pragmatics and Interpretation - edited by Kate Scott July 2019
Chapter
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In this paper we present a view of natural language (NL) grammars compatible with enactive approaches to cognition. This perspective aims to directly model the group-forming properties of NL interactions. Firstly, NL communication is not taken as underpinned by convergence/common ground but modelled as the employment of flexible procedures enabling...
Preprint
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One of the fundamental requirements for models of semantic processing in dialogue is incrementality: a model must reflect how people interpret and generate language at least on a word-by-word basis, and handle phenomena such as fragments, incomplete and jointly-produced utterances. We show that the incremental word-by-word parsing process of Dynami...
Article
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Despite enthusiastic agreement that experimental data are directly relevant for determining grammar architecture, we present one main objection to the conclusions that the authors draw from their results: The data are perfectly compatible – in fact, much more in line – with an alternative that does not rely on syntactic representations. Instead, it...
Article
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In this paper we adopt the hypothesis that languages are mechanisms for interaction, and that grammars encode the means by which such interaction may take place, by use of procedures that construct representations of meaning from strings of words uttered in context, and conversely strings of words are built up from representations of content in int...
Article
This paper addresses the challenge of Chinese cleft structures, involving a pairing of the particles shi and de, which in different combinations display a variety of focus-related effects and different potentials for ambiguity: clefts and pseudo-clefts in particular differ only in order of the elements. We argue that retaining conventional assumpti...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We explore prerequisites necessary for embedding Dynamic Syntax within an account of language evolution. We show how the dynamics of processing as modelled in Dynamic Syntax display remarkable parallelism with Clark's (2016) Pre-dictive Processing Model and that the interactive stance of a combined DS/PPM model of language/cognition reflects the Mu...
Chapter
Pragmatics is the study of communication, of how language is used. This chapter commences with a discussion on the question of the assumed interaction between language-particular (linguistic) and general (nonlinguistic) types of information. It argues that a model which allows integration of linguistic and nonlinguistic forms of interpretation at a...
Chapter
There is a lot of debate in the literature as to whether metalinguistic, echoing or metarepresentational phenomena require semantic or pragmatic explanations or, perhaps the widest consensus, a mixture of the two. Recently some attention has been paid on whether grammatical models, i.e., models that define syntactic-semantic mappings (see e.g. Pott...
Chapter
This chapter argues that the occurrence of jointly constructed utterances (split utterances) in conversation has wide implications for current linguistic theories. Firstly, we show that standard formal syntactic and semantic/pragmatic theories are unable to cope with such conversational data due to the widely assumed competence/performance distinct...
Article
We argue that to reflect participant interactivity in conversational dialogue, the Christiansen & Chater (C&C) perspective needs a formal grammar framework capturing word-by-word incrementality, as in Dynamic Syntax, in which syntax is the incremental building of semantic representations reflecting real-time parsing dynamics. We demonstrate that, w...
Article
Full-text available
We argue that to reflect participant interactivity in conversational dialogue, the C&C perspective needs a formal grammar framework capturing word-by-word incrementality, as in Dynamic Syntax, in which syntax is the incremental building of semantic representations reflecting real-time parsing dynamics. We demonstrate that, with such formulation, sy...
Article
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Conversation is full of non-sentential utterances, with seamless shifts between speaker/hearer roles. The hurdle these pose for standard assumptions is that every linguistic dependency can be distributed across speakers, the content of what they say emerging incrementally. We argue that their modelling necessitates recasting language in terms of ou...
Chapter
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Recent research in the formal modelling of dialogue has led to the conclusion that bifurcations like language use versus language structure, competence versus performance, grammatical versus psycholinguistic/pragmatic modes of explanation are all based on an arbitrary and ultimately mistaken dichotomy, one that obscures the unitary nature of the ph...
Book
Similarities between language and music have tantalised theorists over many years. The papers of this book explore the case for leaving behind static views of language and music in which they are formally describable independently of their practice, turning instead to the view that both are intrinsically mechanisms for interaction. This is a stance...
Chapter
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The Pickering and Garrod model (Pickering & Garrod, 2013) represents a significant advance within the language-as-action paradigm in providing a mechanistic non-inferential account of dialogue. However, we suggest that, in maintaining several aspects of the language-as-product tradition, it does not go far enough in addressing the dynamic nature of...
Chapter
Ellipsis is a phenomenon in which what is conveyed, in some sense to be explained, doesn't need to be fully verbally articulated, as in the second clause. This chapter explains the kind of notion of context that is needed to model the process of ellipsis resolution. It discusses what ellipsis reveals about linguistic content and the nature of natur...
Article
1 Positing representations In the analysis of natural language phenomena, linguistic theories typically have recourse to representations of one form or another. 1 Different types of representation are often posited as a means of generalising over aspects of form or interpretation as displayed in natural language constructions, and these are frequen...
Article
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In this paper we explore the consequences of defining natural-language syntax as procedures for context-dependent interpretation as argued within Dynamic Syntax. Dynamic Syntax is a formalism where both representations of content and context are defined dynamically and structurally, with time-linear growth across sequences of partial trees as the c...
Book
Philosophy of Linguistics investigates the foundational concepts and methods of linguistics, the scientific study of human language. This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of linguistics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historians to map out both the foundational assumptions set dur...
Chapter
This paper sets out a typology of left- and right-periphery effects in which the differences between the structural and topic/focus effects displayed at the two peripheries of interpretation are characterised without any specific structureparticular concepts as part of the formal explanation. The framework in which these generalisations are express...
Article
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In this paper, using new evidence from Pontic Greek (PG) in addition to Standard Modern Greek, we argue that the Person Case Constraint (PCC), generally presumed to be an irreducible morphosyntactic constraint on clitic pronoun combinations and argued by several to provide evidence of feature-driven syntactic operations, is a direct consequence of...
Conference Paper
Despite recognition that context dependence is endemic to natural language, arguably one of its core properties, standard grammar formalisms remain poor vehicles for expressing this. Grammars are standardly defined in terms of principles underpinning structures inhabited by sentence strings to yield a concept of sentence wellformedness, these being...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper we set out the preliminaries needed for a formal theory of context, relative to a linguistic framework in which natural-language syntax is defined as procedures for context-dependent interpretation. Dynamic Syntax provides a formalism where both representations of content and context are defined dynamically and structurally, with time...
Article
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Ever since dialogue modelling first developed relative to broadly Gricean assumptions about utterance interpretation (Clark, 1996), it has remained an open question whether the full complexity of higher-order intention computation is made use of in everyday conversation. In this paper we examine the phenomenon of split utterances, from the perspect...
Article
James Hurford’s book on the origins of meaning ‘brings language into Darwin’s reach’, as one reviewer aptly puts it. It sets out the case for exploring how meaning in language could have evolved out of precursors in the animal kingdom despite the apparent crevasse between those precursors and the richness of natural language and its use in communic...
Article
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This paper argues that, with syntax defined as progressive projection of semantic representations along the left-to-right dimension provided by the sequence of words (Cann, Kempson & Marten 2005), explanations for local and (multiple) nonlocal scrambling of NPs in Japanese and Korean follow from general principles of tree growth, allowing differenc...
Conference Paper
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With the ever-increasing work on context-dependence (DRT and many others since), work on ellipsis has inevitably come to join the ranks of core context- dependency phenomena. This has led to consequent growth of interest in dialogue, with its rampant display of elliptical fragments , structures that are essentially underspecified as regards the con...
Article
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Syntactic preprocessing is a step that is widely used in NLP applications. Traditionally, rule-based or statistical Part-of-Speech (POS) taggers are employed that either need considerable rule development times or a sufficient amount of manually labeled ...
Article
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This paper argues that by analysing language as a mechanism for growth of information (Cann et al. in The Dynamics of Language, Elsevier, Oxford, 2005; Kempson et al. in Dynamic Syntax, Blackwell, Oxford, 2001), not only does a unitary basis for ellipsis become possible, otherwise thought to be irredeemably heterogeneous, but also a whole range of...
Article
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Ever since dialogue modelling first devel-oped relative to broadly Gricean assump-tions about utterance interpretation (Clark, 1996), it has been questioned whether the full complexity of higher-order intention computation is made use of in everyday conversation. In this paper, building on the DS account of split utterances, we further probe the ne...
Article
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In confronting the challenge of providing formal models of dialogue, with its plethora of fragments and rich variation in modes of context-dependent construal, it might seem that linguists face two types of methodological choice: either (a) conversation employs dialogue-specific mechanisms, for which a grammar specific to such activity must be cons...
Article
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Taking so-called split utterances as our point of departure, we argue that a new perspective on the major challenge of dis- ambiguation becomes available, given a framework in which both parsing and gen- eration incrementally involve the same mechanisms for constructing trees reflect- ing interpretation (Dynamic Syntax: (Cann et al., 2005; Kempson...
Chapter
The Puzzle of Language Use: How Do We Ever Understand Each Other?Pragmatics as the Application of Conversational Principles to Sentence MeaningsThe Process of Reasoning: How Do Hearers ever Manage to Choose the Right Interpretation?The Interaction between Linguistic Processing and General ProcessingSummary
Article
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With syntax seen as a set of strategies for the progressive construc-tion of semantic representations (Kempson et al. (2001); Cann et al. (2005)), we argue that the heterogeneous properties of individual clitic systems can be seen as routinised reflections of an earlier language system in which commonly made production choices in determining word-o...
Article
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Abstract The paper explores parallelisms between Bantu (specifically Otjiherero) and Romance (through Latin and Spanish) with respect to left and right peripheries, and subject and object clitics. The analysis is formulated in Dynamic Syntax (DS, Cann et al. 2005) and centrally involves notions of structural underspecifi- cation. Through providing...
Article
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This paper challenges the tradition of defining grammars and grammaticality independently of the context of utterance. Using dialogue phenomena, in particular elliptical utterances, it argues that the obvious dependence of such utterances on context to recover the intended interpretation should be regarded as an inherent characteristic of natural l...
Article
Ruth Kempson is a Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Academia Europaea. She has been a member of the Philosophy Department, King's College London since 1999, from 1999 to 2004 holding a Leverhulme Research Professorship. The major part of her academic career was spent as a member of the School of Oriental and African Studies, where...
Article
Full-text available
Standard grammar formalisms are defined without reflection of the incremental, serial and context-dependent nature of language processing; any incrementality must therefore be reflected by independently defined parsing and/or generation techniques, and context-dependence by separate pragmatic modules. This leads to a poor setup for modelling dialog...
Article
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This paper sets out an account of grammaticalization in the framework of Dynamic Syntax (DS) in which the emergence of object clitics in Medieval Spanish and the change in their syntactic positioning in Renaissance Spanish are shown to be driven by production constraints on dialogue. First an account of Latin is introduced, incorporating the DS con...
Article
For the whole of the last half-century, most theoretical syntacticians have assumed that knowledge of language is different from the tasks of speaking and understanding. There have been some dissenters, but, by and large, this view still holds sway. This book takes a different view: it continues the task set in hand by Kempson et al (2001) of argui...
Article
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Ever since the early 1980's, it has been a corner-stone of work in natural-language semantics and pragmatics that any model of interpretation of nat-ural language has to reflect the way in which understanding of words sys-tematically depends on aspects of the context in which they are produced. 1 Throughout this period, however, syntacticians, sema...
Article
This paper explores the relation of grammaticality to acceptability through a discussion of the use of resumptive pronouns in spoken English. It is argued that undergeneration by some grammar of observed linguistic phenomena such as these is as serious a problem for theoretical frameworks as overgeneration, and that it has consequences for the way...
Article
This paper proposes an account of Right Node Raising (RNR) within the framework of Dynamic Syntax (DS). The problematic properties of this construction are shown to emerge naturally from a theory that defines natural language syntax as the direct reflection of how Logical Forms are built up in time as the words of a string are processed. Within thi...
Article
Full-text available
Standard grammar formalisms are defined with-out reflection of the incremental and serial na-ture of language processing, and incremental-ity must therefore be reflected by independently defined parsing and/or generation techniques. We argue that this leads to a poor setup for modelling dialogue, with its rich speaker-hearer interaction, and instea...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes an implemented prototype dialogue model within the Dynamic Syntax (DS) framework (Kempson et al., 2001) which directly reflects dialogue phenomena such as alignment, routinization and shared utterances. In DS, word-by-word incremental parsing and generation are defined in terms of actions on semantic tree structures. This paper...
Article
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This commentary argues that dialogue alignment can be explained if parsing-directed grammar formalisms are adopted. With syntax defined as monotonic growth of semantic representations as each word is parsed, alignment between interlocutors is shown to be expected. Hence, grammars can be evaluated according to relative success in characterizing dial...
Article
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The characterisation of a grammar formalism for natural languages defined in terms of the process of time-linear tree growth for interpretation explains syntactic topic and focus effects at the left and right periphery as consequences of basic tree growth processes, much as Vallduvi 1991, but without positing any ad-ditional level of structural rep...
Conference Paper
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This paper describes an implemented model of context-based incremental tactical generation within the Dynamic Syntax framework [1] which directly reflects dialogue phenomena such as alignment, routinization and shared utterances, problematic for many theoretical and computational approaches [2]. In Dynamic Syntax, both parsing and generation are de...
Article
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This paper has two goals. Using a grammar formalism in which syntax is no more than parsing-driven growth of semantic representation (Dynamic Syntax: DS, Kempson et al 2001), we sketch a model of production in which generation is defined in terms of parse routines. We then show how this tight coupling of parsing/generation directly reflects dialogu...
Article
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In this paper topic and focus effects at both left and right periphery are argued to be epiphenomena of general properties of tree growth. We incorporate Ko-rean into this account as a prototypical verb-final language, and show how long-and short-distance scrambling form part of this general picture. Multiple long-distance scrambling effects emerge...
Article
This paper applies Dynamic Syntax (Kempson et al., 2001) to dialogue modelling, and provides a characterisation of production that is relative to a converse process of tree growth which constitutes a parse check. As evidence for this approach, we place it in a psycho-linguistic perspective, using it to model (i) the parsing/production of elliptical...
Article
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this paper, we explore the extent to which Dynamic Syntax enables us to express dierent forms of left dislocation as a natural set of variants, in an account which builds on the analysis of relative clause construal. What we shall show is that characterising growth of a logical form, in which each logical form is represented as a tree structure, en...
Article
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This paper gives an account of indefinites as epsilon terms within a model of utterance processing as a task of labelled deduction, in which partially specified inputs are progressively resolved during the interpretation process. The formal tools used are labelled deduction (Gabbay forthcoming), the epsilon calculus (Meyer-Viol 1995), and a tree-lo...
Article
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redefined as the dynamic,projection of structure within an abstract parsing schema. 1.1 Failure to Display Scopal Properties in Parallel with Quantifying Expressions
Article
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This paper describes a prototype implementation of a Labelled Deduction System for natural language interpretation [Gabbay & Kempson 1992], where interpretation is taken to be the process of understanding a natural language utterance. The implementation models the process of understanding wh-gap dependencies in questions and relative clauses for a...
Article
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In this paper we introduce the data structures and process structure of an incremental parser which reflects the underspecified nature of the information encoded in the NL string. We show how this parser can deal with so called crossover phenomena in a way other systems cannot. The the parser is formulated within the LDS framework and constructs pa...
Article
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In this paper we show that the dynamic interpretation techniques of Janssen (assignment modalities), Groenendijk and Stokhof (dynamic binding), and Hendriks (exibly scoping rules) enable a rigorous formulation of the semantics of intersentential anaphoric relationships, as well as of telescoping and periscoping phenomena in natural language. Keywor...
Article
This paper describes preliminary work on a model of natural language in which the dichotomy between syntactic and semantic algebras (assumed by linguists since Lewis [39]) is replaced by a system which defines inference over the pair of semantic and syntactic information expressed as label and formula. In this system, the left-right projection of o...
Article
This paper informally outlines a Labelled Deductive System for on-line language processing. Interpretation of a string is modelled as a composite lexically driven process of type deduction over labelled premises forming locally discrete databases, with rules of database inference then dictating their mode of combination. The particular LDS methodol...
Article
Using the LDSNL model of utterance interpretation being developed by Gabbay and Kempson (cf. [17, 29, 30]), this paper demonstrates how the dynamics of the proof process adopted explains configurational restrictions imposed on the interpretation of elliptical fragments. The blurring of traditional semantic and syntactic dichotomies in the LDSNL pro...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to explore modelling a more non-standard interaction between a human and a database. We try to equip the database with the capability of understanding queries in natural language and answering them in a more `intelligent' manner than by mere yes/no factual answers. This capability of the database requires (at least) two com...