Editorial: Models of Reference

Kees van Deemter*, Emiel Krahmer, Albert Gatt, Roger P. G. van Gompel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

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To communicate, speakers need to make it clear what they are talking about. Referring expressions play a crucial part in achieving this, by anchoring utterances to things. Examples of referring expressions include noun phrases such as “this phenomenon,” “it,” and “the phenomenon to which this Topic is devoted.” Reference is studied throughout the Cognitive Sciences (van Deemter, 2016).

Recent years have seen a new wave of work in this area, as witnessed by a number of journal Special Issues. 1The Research Topic “Models of Reference” in Frontiers in Psychology is a new milestone, focussing on contributions from Psycholinguistics and Computational Linguistics.

Unsurprisingly given the journal, the response to our Call for Papers has focussed predominantly on psycholinguistic work. A majority of submissions dealt with language production, as opposed to comprehension. In what follows, we summarize the papers accepted for this Research Topic, stressing some of the main themes emerging, including audience design (Section 2); overspecification (Section 3); visual perception, and variation between speakers (Section 4). We end with some general observations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1855
Number of pages3
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

The first author acknowledges support from the EPSRC for the project RefNet (An interdisciplinary Network Focussing on Reference), EP/J019615/1.


  • psycholinguistics
  • language production
  • referring expressions
  • computational models
  • audience design
  • comprehension
  • speakers
  • mind


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