Clause-internal coherence: A look at deverbal adjectives


  • Kelsey Sasaki
  • Daniel Altshuler



Hobbs (2010) introduced the term 'Clause-Internal Coherence' (‘CIC’) to describe inferences such as that in, ‘A jogger was hit by a car,’ where the jogging is understood to be implicated in the car-hitting event. Cohen & Kehler (2021) motivate an account of CIC using tools familiar from discourse coherence research. An outstanding question is how to compositionally derive CIC from coherence relations. We propose that CIC can arise as a byproduct of presupposition resolution, couching our analysis in 'Segmented Discourse Representation Theory' (Asher & Lascarides 1998) and providing motivation from experimental findings. Our findings suggest: (i) attributive adjectives, both deverbal and non-deverbal, can trigger CIC; (ii) attributive adjectives trigger weaker causal inferences, but stronger non-causal inferences, than their predicative counterparts; (iii) non-deverbal adjectives are weaker causal inference triggers than deverbal adjectives. We argue that attributive adjectives are presupposition triggers, and that they give rise to CIC inferences as a result of presupposition resolution. Thus, CIC with deverbal adjectives arises via Background (non-causal inference) or, depending on word order, Elaboration or Continuation (causal inference). For non-deverbal adjectives, non-causal inferences also arise via Background, but causal inferences arise via Explanation or Result. Finally, we show how some of the interpretative preferences observed in our studies can be modeled as interactions between independently motivated default axioms for choosing between coherence relations. Our research sheds new light on how presupposition relates to anaphora resolution and coherence, while also contributing to recent work on adjectival meaning in discourse.




How to Cite

Sasaki, K., & Altshuler, D. (2023). Clause-internal coherence: A look at deverbal adjectives. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 571–588.