Anaphoric Binding: an integrated overview

António Branco

The interpretation of anaphors depends on their antecedents as the semantic value that an anaphor eventually conveys is co-specified by the value of its antecedent. Interestingly, when occurring in a given syntactic position, different anaphors may have different sets of admissible antecedents. Such differences are the basis for the categorization of anaphoric expressions according to their anaphoric capacity, being important to determine what are the sets of admissible antecedents and how to represent and process this anaphoric capacity for each type of anaphor. From an empirical perspective, these constraints stem from what appears as quite cogent generalisations and exhibit a universal character, given their cross linguistic validity. From a conceptual point of view, in turn, the relations among binding constraints involve non-trivial cross symmetry, which lends them a modular nature and provides further strength to the plausibility of their universal character. This kind of anaphoric binding constraints appears thus as a most significant subset of natural language knowledge, usually referred to as binding theory. This paper provides an integrated overview of these constraints holding on the pairing of nominal anaphors with their admissible antecedents that are based on grammatical relations and structure. Along with the increasing interest on neuro-symbolic approaches to natural language, this paper seeks to contribute to revive the interest on this most intriguing research topic.

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