Variable Handling and Compositionality: Comparing DRT and DTS

Yukiko Yana, Koji Mineshima, Daisuke Bekki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper provides a detailed comparison between discourse representation theory (DRT) and dependent type semantics (DTS), two frameworks for discourse semantics. Although it is often stated that DRT and those frameworks based on dependent types are mutually exchangeable, we argue that they differ with respect to variable handling, more specifically, how substitution and other operations on variables are defined. This manifests itself in two recalcitrant problems posed for DRT; namely, the overwrite problem and the duplication problem. We will see that these problems still pose a challenge for various extended compositional systems based on DRT, while they do not arise in a framework of DTS where substitution and other operations are defined in the standard type-theoretic manner without stipulating any additional constraints. We also compare the notions of contexts underlying these two kinds of frameworks, namely, contexts represented as assignment functions and contexts represented as proof terms, and see what different predictions they make for some linguistic examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-285
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Logic, Language and Information
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaphora resolution
  • Compositionality
  • Dependent type theory
  • Discourse representation theory
  • Dynamic semantics
  • Formal semantics
  • Lambda-calculus
  • Proof-theoretic semantics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


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