Rhetorical Structure Theory and Text Analysis
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MARINA DEL REY INFORMATION SCIENCES INST
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Recent research on text generation has shown that there is a need for stronger linguistic theories that tell in detail how texts communicate. The prevailing theories are very difficult to compare, and it is also very difficult to see how they might be combined into stronger theories. To make comparison and combination a bit more approachable, we Mann and Thompson have created a book which is designed to encourage comparison. A dozen different authors or teams, all experienced in discourse research, are given exactly the same text to analyze. The text is an appeal for money by a lobbying organization in Washington, D.D. It informs, stimulates and manipulates the reader in a fascinating way. The joint analysis is far more insightful than any one teams analysis alone. This paper is our contribution to the book. Rhetorical Structure Theory RST, the focus of this paper, is a way to account for the functional potential of text, its capacity to achieve the purposes of speakers and produce effects in hearers. It also shows a way to distinguish coherent texts from incoherent ones, and identifies consequences of text structure. Keywords Artificial intelligence Coherence Computational linguistics Discourse analysis Linguistics Natural language Rhetorical structure theory Text structure.