Explicitness and implicitness of discourse relations in a multilingual discourse bank

Mendes A., ZEYREK BOZŞAHİN D., Oleskeviciene G.

FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE, vol.30, no.1, pp.67-91, 2023 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1075/fol.22011.men
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, Communication & Mass Media Index, Communication Abstracts, Linguistic Bibliography, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.67-91
  • Keywords: discourse relations, continuity, explicitness, COGNITIVE-COMPLEXITY, CONNECTIVES
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Proposals such as continuity and causality-by-default relate the level of expectedness of a relation to its linguistic marking as an explicit or implicit relation. We investigate these two proposals with regard to the English transcripts of six TED Talks and their Lithuanian, Portuguese and Turkish translations in the TED-Multilingual Discourse Bank (TED-MDB), annotated for discourse relations, following the Penn Discourse Treebank style of annotation. Our data shows that the discontinuous relations contrast and concession are indeed frequently explicit in all languages. But continuous relations show differences per relation and language. For instance, cause is frequently conveyed implicitly in English and Portuguese, but not in Lithuanian and Turkish. We explore temporal continuity by analysing whether the forward-order sense result is more frequently implicit than the backward-order reason. The hypothesis is confirmed by English and Portuguese, but not Lithuanian and Turkish. However, in Turkish, the arguments of the backward-order relation reason are frequently presented by the reversed order of arguments, retaining the linear order of events even in the presence of the connective. The causality-by-default hypothesis is not confirmed, as cause is not the most frequent implicit relation in the four languages.