An important aspect of the interpretation of multimodal messages is the ability to identify when the same object in the world is the referent of symbols in different modalities. To understand the caption of a picture, for instance, one needs to identify the graphical symbols that are referred to by names and pronouns in the natural language text. One way to think of this problem is in terms of the notion of anaphora; however, unlike linguistic anaphoric inference, in which antecedents for pronouns are selected from a linguistic context, in the interpretation of the textual part of multimodal messages the antecedents are selected from a graphical context. Under this view, resolving multimodal references is like resolving anaphora across modalities. Another way to see the same problem is to look at pronouns in texts about drawings as deictic. In this second view, the context of interpretation of a natural language term is defined as a set of expressions of a graphical language with well-defined syntax and semantics. Natural language and graphical terms are thought of as standing in a relation of translation similar to the translation relation that holds between natural languages. In this paper a theory based on this second view is presented. In this theory, the relations between multimodal representation and spatial deixis, on the one hand, and multimodal reasoning and deictic inference, on the other, are discussed. An integrated model of anaphoric and deictic resolution in the context of the interpretation of multimodal discourse is also advanced.

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