The Lexical Source of Unexpressed Participants and their Role in Sentence and Discourse Understanding
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This chapter presents preliminary evidence that bears on the issue of how unexpressed (agent) participants are represented and when they are included in the representations of agentless passive sentences using two experimental paradigms -- self-paced reading and eye-monitoring. The results of our first experiment suggest that the logical necessity of an unexpressed agent in a described event is insufficient for it to be available for interpretation. Instead it must be lexically specified by a verb to be included in the representation of a sentence. The second and third experiments provide evidence that unexpressed agents are encoded when a passive verb is integrated into a sentence's representation. The latter part of this chapter presents evidence that the representation of event participant information may best be characterized as sets of fine-grained entailments, rather than as categorical primitives and that lexically specified event participants help in establishing local discourse coherence.