Discourse Structure: Swings and Roundabouts

  • Bonnie Webber University of Edinburgh
  • Rashmi Prasad University of Pennsylvania


The goal of understanding how discourse is more than a sequence of sentences has engaged researchers for many years. Researchers in the 1970's attempted to gain such understanding by identifying and classifying the phenomena involved in discourse. This was followed by attempts in the 1980s and early 1990s to explain discourse phenomena in terms of theories of abstract structure. Recent efforts to develop large-scale annotated discourse corpora, along with more lexically grounded theories of discourse are now beginning to reveal interesting patterns and show where and how early theories might be revised to better account for discourse data.