Departmental Papers (CIS)

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper


Pitler, E. & Nenkova, A., Using Syntax to Disambiguate Explicit Discourse Connectives in Text, 47th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 4th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing of the AFNLP, Aug. 2009, doi: anthology/P09-2004


Discourse connectives are words or phrases such as once, since, and on the contrary that explicitly signal the presence of a discourse relation. There are two types of ambiguity that need to be resolved during discourse processing. First, a word can be ambiguous between discourse or non-discourse usage. For example, once can be either a temporal discourse connective or a simply a word meaning “formerly”. Secondly, some connectives are ambiguous in terms of the relation they mark. For example since can serve as either a temporal or causal connective. We demonstrate that syntactic features improve performance in both disambiguation tasks. We report state-of-the-art results for identifying discourse vs. non-discourse usage and human-level performance on sense disambiguation.



Date Posted: 30 July 2012