This article aims to present a set of discourse structure relations that are easy to code and to develop criteria for an appropriate data structure for representing these relations. Discourse structure here refers to informational relations that hold between sentences in a discourse. The set of discourse relations introduced here is based on Hobbs (1985).

We present a method for annotating discourse coherence structures that we used to manually annotate a database of 135 texts from the Wall Street Journal and the AP Newswire. Alltexts were independently annotated by two annotators. Kappa values of greater than 0.8 indicated good interannotator agreement.

We furthermore present evidence that trees are not a descriptively adequate data structure for representing discourse structure: In coherence structures of naturally occurring texts, we found many different kinds of crossed dependencies, as well as many nodes with multiple parents. The claims are supported by statistical results from our hand-annotated database of 135 texts.

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Author notes

Computer Laboratory and Genetics Department, Cambridge, CB3 0FD, U.K. [email protected]

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Cambridge, MA 02139. [email protected]