Referential properties of definites and salience spreading

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We provide a survey of different aspects of definiteness by means of comprehension data collected via event-related brain potential recordings. We present a processing account including differences between definites and indefinites, as well as the contribution of lexical feature specifications, uniqueness, degrees of accessibility and enrichment. We then present new data associated with salience spreading from referential expressions to their supersets. Two core mechanisms emerge in all these studies that reflect the computation of accessibility information on the one hand and updating of discourse structure on the other hand. With the availability of these two processes, the nature and processing consequences of weak definites may be narrowed down and validated in future research.


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