Underspecification of Cognitive Status in Reference Production: Some Empirical Predictions

Jeanette K. Gundel, Nancy Hedberg, Ron Zacharski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Within the Givenness Hierarchy framework of Gundel, Hedberg, and Zacharski (1993), lexical items included in referring forms are assumed to conventionally encode two kinds of information: conceptual information about the speaker's intended referent and procedural information about the assumed cognitive status of that referent in the mind of the addressee, the latter encoded by various determiners and pronouns. This article focuses on effects of underspecification of cognitive status, establishing that, although salience and accessibility play an important role in reference processing, the Givenness Hierarchy itself is not a hierarchy of degrees of salience/accessibility, contrary to what has often been assumed. We thus show that the framework is able to account for a number of experimental results in the literature without making additional assumptions about form-specific constraints associated with different referring forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-268
Number of pages20
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Accessbility
  • Cognitive status
  • Givenness Hierarchy
  • Reference
  • Relevance
  • Salience
  • Underspecification


Dive into the research topics of 'Underspecification of Cognitive Status in Reference Production: Some Empirical Predictions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this