anaphora – you know you love them

January 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Linguistics can make you money!

Essex university is asking for help identifying anaphoric relations. Anaphora are expressions that get their meaning from elsewhere. Pronouns and reflexives are the classic anaphora:

  • John said that Bob loved him.
  • John said that Bob loved himself.

In the first example, the pronoun him can refer to John, but cannt refer to Bob. Conversely, himself, the reflexive in the second example can only refer to Bob. The way these two different types of anaphora work, i.e., what are the structural relations between an anaphor and its antecedent or reference giver has been a major field of inquiry in syntax. This question inspired Chomsky and for a while lent its name to his theory  – government and binding.

You don’t need to know what Principle A of the Binding Theory – A reflexive must be bound in its governing category – to make a little money …

To celebrate its first year year of being online, Phrase Detectives:

a game-with-a-purpose designed to gather data about anaphora, announces a
$500 New Decade competition aimed at creating the world’s largest
collection of anaphorically annotated data.

Modern statistical methods for natural language interpretation require
hundreds of thousands of examples of language interpretation. But creating
such large amounts of data takes a very long time if done by a handful of
people. Web collaboration is a potential solution to this dilemma. In
particular, ‘games with a purpose’ like ESP have been used to label great
amounts of data as a byproduct of the activities of people playing such
games on the Web. Phrase Detectives, a game with a purpose for anaphoric
annotation developed at the University of Essex, has already collected more
than 700,000 examples of anaphoric annotation.

To celebrate the first year of being online, the developers of Phrase
Detectives are launching a competition to complete the annotation of the
first one million words of text, the largest collection of anaphoric data
for English in the world. To encourage participation, Phrase Detectives are
offering big cash prizes for the top players in January. If you are the
highest scorer on January 31st you will win the top prize of $500. We put
together a collection that includes around 600,000 words of fiction (from
“Alice in Wonderland” to “Sherlock Holmes”) and around 600,000 words of
text from Wikipedia. The data will be made publicly available through LDC
and the Anaphoric Bank,

For more information, visit or contact:

Massimo Poesio –
Jon Chamberlain –
Udo Kruschwitz –


Tagged: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading anaphora – you know you love them at *b-ling*.


%d bloggers like this: