The discourse structure of Turkish

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Informatics, Cognitive Science, Turkey

Approval Date: 2015




This thesis investigates the structure of immediate discourse in Turkish. The first and fore- most question is how discourse is built. Are there components of discourse that constitute a predicate-argument structure, or is discourse realized by underlying non-structural ties that are merely made explicit by these components? If there is structure in discourse, what is the nature of this structure, and what is its complexity? For this purpose, we analyze the relations annotated in the Turkish Discourse Bank, and their counterparts annotated on the Spoken Turkish Corpus Demo specifically for this study. Through close examination of inter-relational configurations identified in these corpora, we investigate deviations from tree-structure and attempt at eliminating the deviations without compromising the meaning of the text. We show that while some of these deviations can be explained away, some of them stem from the nature of discourse as well as syntactic asymmetries of the components of the discourse relations, and should be accommodated by the discourse theory. Building upon our findings from the data, we discuss what role discourse connectives play in building the discourse structure. We argue that although discourse relations are best repre- sented as logical predicates, they are fundamentally different from sentence-level predicates. Our conclusion is that the discourse relations anchored by explicit discourse connectives and the inferences represented by implicit discourse connectives are a representation of the struc- ture we perceive in the text, as opposed to sentence-level predicates that build an argument structure and impose linguistic restrictions on their arguments.