Conflicting discourse expectations? On the interaction between implicit verb causality and topic continuity

Team: Oliver Bott (CiC, U Tübingen), Thomas Weskott (ProProCon, U Göttingen) and Robin Hörnig (SFB 833, Tübingen) and Torgrim Solstad (ZAS Berlin)

In Centering theory, center continuation (topic continuity) is generally set apart as the more coherent transition between utterances in discourse as compared to center shifting (topic shift). We want to investigate whether and to what extent verb-based continuation expectancies modulate this centering preference. For an implicit-causality verb such as the experiencer-stimulus verb to admire, if followed by an explanation, the continuation preferably addresses the stimulus/object as opposed to the experiencer/subject. Given a discourse context with the experiencer as center, a shifting to the stimulus in the subsequent explanation may be preferred over a continuation. We will examine (i) whether shifting is indeed preferred over continuation and (ii) whether, as we assume, shifting due to verb bias is a local (or subordinate) phenomenon, i.e., the experiencer is easily re-established as the center of discourse immediately following the explanation.