Utility and language generation: the case of vagueness

Kees van Deemter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This paper asks why information should ever be expressed vaguely, re-assessing some previously proposed answers to this question and suggesting some new ones. Particular attention is paid to the benefits that vague expressions can have in situations where agreement over the meaning of an expression cannot be taken for granted. A distinction between two different versions of the above-mentioned question is advocated. The first asks why human languages contain vague expressions, the second question asks when and why a speaker should choose a vague expression when communicating with a hearer. While the former question is purely theoretical, the latter has practical implications for the computational generation of utterances in Natural Language Generation (NLG).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-632
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Philosophical Logic
Issue number6
Early online date10 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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  • vagueness
  • language generation
  • utility


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