ITRW on Experimental Linguistics

Athens, Greece
August 28-30, 2006

Animacy Effects on Discourse Prominence in Greek Complex NPs

Stella Tsaklidou, Eleni Miltsakaki

School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

This paper is concerned with the factors determining the relative salience of entities evoked in Complex NPs. The salience of entities evoked in complex NPs cannot be predicted by current theories of salience which attribute salience to grammatical role (subjects are more salient than non-subjects) or thematic role (agent are more salient than non-agents). A plausible hypothesis might be that, in complex NPs, head nouns are more salient than non-head nouns. Based on a sizable corpus of Greek, we analyze 484 instances of complex NPs. The results of the analysis reveal a semantic hierarchy of salience which predicts the full range of data independently of headedness: Animate Human>Inanimate Concrete Object>Inanimate Abstract Object.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Tsaklidou, Stella / Miltsakaki, Eleni (2006): "Animacy effects on discourse prominence in Greek complex NPs", In ExLing-2006, 237-240.