Arndt Riester

Dr. phil.
Arndt Riester

Arndt Riester
Phone +49 (0)711 685-81398
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung
Pfaffenwaldring 5b
70569 Stuttgart

I am a linguist and senior researcher in formal semantics and pragmatics. My main area of interest is information structure (and its effects on prosody and morphosyntax) but I am also interested in other means of discourse structuring, such as tense and aspect. I work with Discourse Representation Theory, and one of my goals is to test semantic hypotheses on written and spoken corpus data. Finally, I also develop pragmatic annotation schemata and contribute to computational linguistic applications that depend on an understanding of discourse.


Research project A6. Encoding of Information Structure in German and French. SFB 732


My field of research is the information structure of natural language. Sentences aren't standardised "information bricks" from which texts or speeches can be built. Rather, sentences are like puzzle pieces; often there is only one that fits. The same information can be presented in numerous ways, and in fact, the mode of presentation depends on various external factors: most importantly, on what was said or written just before the utterance in question but also, which people or objects are present, or influence us, while we communicate, and what knowledge we, as considerate speakers, ascribe to our interlocutors.

All these contextual factors have an influence on the way in which we are going to say (form) what we want to say (content). To refer to a certain person, we might use a pronoun, call them by their name, or provide an elaborate circumscription. To make an utterance "sound right", it is necessary that the order (and, therefore, prominence) of the phrases that we are planning to use is somehow adapted to the properties of the preceding (and sometimes subsequent) text or utterance; and finally, it is clear that using proper intonation is not a matter of individual style but can actually influence whether we are being understood or not. (Also think of writing a message and suddenly feeling the urge to underline or capitalize a certain word!)

All this pertains to what linguists call information structure. It is usually described in terms of whether certain words or expressions represent new or given or inferred information, whether two phrases stand in a contrastive relation to each other, whether they are the current topic or the focus of an assertion. Doing research on information structure can also mean to uncover the strategy that the author of a text followed in order to get a complex message across and, therefore, ultimately, to unveil the structure of discourse. If you want to know more about all that, you are welcome to read my papers!

An article in Stuttgarter Zeitung (in German) about my (and my colleagues') work


Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung

  • WiSe 2017/18. Co-Reference Resolution (MA level) (mit Ina Rösiger)
  • SoSe 2016. Co-Reference Resolution (MA level) (mit Ina Rösiger)
  • SoSe 2008. Semantik III (mit Hans Kamp)
  • SoSe 2007. Informationsstruktur
  • SoSe 2006. Informationsstruktur
  • SoSe 2005. Informationsstruktur (mit Hans Kamp)
  • WiSe 2004/05. Übungen zu Logik und formale Grundlagen II

26th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI), Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen

  • Annotating Corpora with Information Structure (jointly with Kordula De Kuthy)

Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Linguistik / Germanistik

  • SoSe 2015. Pragmatik II (BA level)
  • SoSe 2014. Semantik und Pragmatik von Fragen und Aussagen (MA level) (mit Uwe Reyle)
  • SoSe 2013. Semantik II: Diskursrepräsentationstheorie, Tempus und Aspekt (BA Level)
  • WiSe 2010/11. Pragmatik I (BA Level)
  • WiSe 2008/09. Informationsstruktur zwischen Syntax, Semantik und Pragmatik (mit Kirsten Gengel und Edgar Onea)
  • WiSe 2003/04. Tutorium zu Intonation und Informationsstruktur

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Englische Philologie (SoSe 2012)

  • Introduction to Semantic Theory (BA Level)
  • Semantics Lab Class (BA Level)
  • Tense and Aspect (BA Level)
  • Information Structure (MA Level)


Invited talks Other talks (selection)

Referential Expressions in Discourse (RED 7) – The Grammar of Reference and Quantification: Functions, Variation, and Change
Università di Bologna, IT
June 15, 2017
(Invited discussant)

Universität zu Köln, Institut für Linguistik/Phonetik
Hauptseminar Annotation von Informationsstruktur und Intonation
December 16, 2016
Annotationspraxis RefLex-System und QUDs

Workshop on the Interface of Prosody and Information Structure
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
June 17, 2016
Principles of information-structure analysis

Third International Workshop on Information Structure of Austronesian Languages
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
February 18, 2016
Information-structure analysis of spoken discourse

Universität Konstanz, Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft
November 5, 2015
Questions under Discussion in spoken interview data

Second International Workshop on Information Structure of Austronesian Languages
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
February 11, 2015
Annotating corpus data with information structure: An example from Balinese

Université Diderot, Paris 7
December 16, 2014
Analysis of discourse structure and information structure using Questions under Discussion

Universität Potsdam, Department für Linguistik
October 28, 2013
Marking Relative Givenness

Kickoff Workshop VisArgue – Analyzing Political Argumentation
Universität Konstanz
October 1, 2013
Where's the information? Analysis of a spoken news item

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Linguistik
Kolloquium der Forschergruppe 1783 "Relativsätze"
June 25, 2013
Information-structural properties of relative clauses

Information Structure in Spoken Language Corpora (ISSLaC)
Universität Bielefeld
June 10, 2013
Keynote Speech: Room for interpretation: Information-structural variation in read text

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Phonetik
May 13, 2013
Marking Relative Givenness

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft
Oberseminar Neuere Literatur zu Syntax und Semantik
December 17, 2012
Focus triggers and focus types

Workshop on Semantic and Pragmatic Annotation of Corpora
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
July 16, 2012
Information-structural categories in corpus annotation

Workshop Deutsche Intonation: Annotation und Modellierung (DIMA-1)
Universität zu Köln
September 10, 2011
Intonation und Semantik/Pragmatik

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft
Oberseminar Current Research in Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning
July 1, 2011
The RefLex Scheme

Graz Workshop on Information Structure (GWIS)
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
June 17, 2011
Referential information status, prosody and syntax in German radio news

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Englisches Seminar
Oberseminar Freezing
June 7, 2011
Prosody and discourse: annotating and harvesting a corpus resource

Workshop on Discourse Semantics and Pragmatics
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
December 17, 2010
From discourse semantics to corpus annotation and back

Universitetet i Oslo, Institutt for filosofi, idé- og kunsthistorie og klassiske språk
Theoretical Linguistics Seminar
May 27, 2009
Annotating information structure: Practical and theoretical aspects

Universität zu Köln, Institut für Linguistik/Phonetik
Forschungskolloquium Phonetik
July 13, 2008
Towards Annotating Focus

Georg-August-Universität, Seminar für Englische Philologie
Seminar Syntax and Semantics of Focus
May 13, 2008
Givenness, information status and focus in corpus data

Universität Potsdam, Department Linguistik
Gastvortragsreihe des Sonderforschungsbereichs 632 "Informationsstruktur"
June 19, 2007
(mit Katrin Schweitzer) Incremental specification of focus and givenness

Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft
Forschungsseminar des Projekts Typologie und Logische Form der Satznegation, Sonderforschungsbereich 443
February 2006
Only scalar

Workshop on the Role of Prosody in Structuring Discourse
Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Berlin
May 10, 2005
Semantic clues for reconstructing information structure from text

Workshop on Prosody and Meaning
Universität Konstanz
October 5, 2017
(with Cristel Portes and Uwe Reyle) How does French mark focus and givenness? A corpus study in a QUD approach

Workshop on Discourse, Information Structure and Prosody in Corpora
Laboratoire Parole et Langage, Aix-en-Provence, FR
June 27, 2017
Transforming written or spoken discourse into QUD trees

Workshop on Questions under Discussion in Austronesian Languages
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
May 27, 2017
What QUDs can tell us about the information structure of Sumbawa

Non-At-Issue Meaning and Information Structure (XPrag Workshop)
Universitetet i Oslo
May 9, 2017
(with Lisa Brunetti and Kordula De Kuthy) A QUD-based analysis of non-at-issue material in corpus data

20th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (JerSem)
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
July 17, 2016
(with Uwe Reyle) Joint information structure and discourse structure analysis in an Underspecified DRT framework

53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL-IJCNLP).
July 26, 2015
(with Ina Rösiger) Using prosodic annotations to improve coreference resolution of spoken text

7th Meeting of the DFG Network on Questions in Discourse
Georg-August Universität Göttingen
June 25, 2015
QUD trees and d-accessibility

Workshop on Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives on the Interrelation of Syntax, Semantics and Prosody
Universität zu Köln
December 2, 2014
Analysis of discourse structure and information structure using Questions under Discussion

Ninth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC)
May 26, 2014
(with Anders Björkelund, Kerstin Eckart, Nadja Schauffler and Katrin Schweitzer) Poster: The extended DIRNDL corpus as a resource for coreference and bridging resolution

Second Graz Workshop on Information Structure (GWIS)
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, AT
March 24, 2013
(with Jörn Piontek) Relative Givenness in German adjectival modification

35th Annual Meeting of the DGfS
Workshop Prosody and Information Status in Typological Perspective
Universität Potsdam
March 13, 2013
(with Moritz Stiefel and Kerstin Eckart) Investigating focus projection in corpus data

13th Annual SIGDial Meeting on Discourse and Dialog
Seoul National University
July 5, 2012
(with Aoife Cahill) Poster: Automatically acquiring fine-grained information-status distinctions in German

34th Annual Meeting of the DGfS
Workshop Linked Data in Linguistics
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
March 9, 2012
(with Kerstin Eckart and Katrin Schweitzer) A Discourse Information Radio News Database for Linguistic Analysis

Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP 2)
McGill University, Montréal
September 23-25, 2011

  • (with Kerstin Eckart and Katrin Schweitzer) The prosody of short referring expressions in German radio news
  • (with Petra Augurzky, Kerstin Eckart, Gerhard Jäger and Katrin Schweitzer) Poster: Effects of transitivity and discourse context on prosodic phrasing in German

Prosody-Discourse Interface (IDP 2011)
University of Salford, UK
September 12, 2011
Pitch accents on short referential expressions in German radio news

33rd Annual Meeting of the DGfS
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
February 23-25 2011

  • Workshop Beyond Semantics: Corpus-Based Investigations of Pragmatic and Discourse Phenomena
    (with Stefan Baumann) Information-structure annotation and secondary accents
  • DGfS Sektion Computerlinguistik, Poster Session
    (with Kerstin Eckart, Katrin Schweitzer and Nina Seemann) Querying information-status and prosody annotations: the problem of deviating primary data

Logic and Engineering of Natural Language Semantics VII
Campus Innovation Center, Tokyo
November 18, 2010
Restriction triggers alternative presuppositions

7th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC)
Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta, Malta
May 17, 2010
(with David Lorenz and Nina Seemann) A recursive annotation scheme for Referential Information Status

5th International Conference on Speech Prosody
May 11, 2010
(with Stefan Baumann) Poster: Annotating information status in spontaneous speech

17th Amsterdam Colloquium
Institute for Logic, Language and Computation
December 16, 2009
(with Hans Kamp) Squiggly issues: Alternative sets, complex DPs and intensionality

47th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL-IJCNLP)
Suntec, Singapore
August 2, 2009
(with Aoife Cahill) Incorporating information status into generation ranking

31st Annual Meeting of the DGfS
Workshop Focus Marking Strategies and Focus Interpretation
Universität Osnabrück
March 5, 2009
(with Stefan Baumann) (De-)Accentuation and coreference

18th International Congress of Linguists (CIL)
Information Structure Session
Korea University, Seoul
July 25, 2008
Partial accommodation and activation in definites

Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP 1)
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
April 11, 2008
(with Katrin Schweitzer) Poster: Phonological and acoustic specification of information status. A semantic and phonetic analysis

Sinn und Bedeutung XII
Universitetet i Oslo
September 22, 2007
A semantic explication of 'Information Status' and the underspecification of the recipients' knowledge

Workshop on Presupposition Accommodation
The Ohio State University, Columbus
October 14, 2006
Poster: Reversing the informational architecture of scalar particles

18th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information
Student Session
Universidad de Málaga
August 7, 2006
Only scalar

Workshop on Formal Semantics 2
Lomonosov Moscow State University
April 15, 2006
A unified lexical entry for 'only'

Sinn und Bedeutung IX
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, NL
November 1, 2004
Context and focus projection. A compositional, intonation-based account of focus interpretation



All publications

Most recent

  • Kordula De Kuthy, Nils Reiter and Arndt Riester (to appear). QUD-Based Annotation of Discourse Structure and Information Structure: Tool and Evaluation. In Proceedings of the 11th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, Miyazaki, JP.
  • Katrin Schweitzer, Kerstin Eckart, Markus Gärtner, Agnieszka Faleńska, Arndt Riester, Ina Rösiger, Antje Schweitzer, Sabrina Stehwien and Jonas Kuhn (to appear). German radio interviews: The GRAIN release of the SFB732 Silver Standard Collection. In Proceedings of the 11th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, Miyazaki, JP.
  • Anja Latrouite and Arndt Riester (to appear). The role of information structure for morphosyntactic choices in Tagalog. In Sonja Riesberg, Asako Shiohara and Atsuko Utsumi (eds.) Information Structure in Austronesian Languages. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Arndt Riester, Lisa Brunetti and Kordula De Kuthy (to appear). Annotation guidelines for Questions under Discussion and information structure. In Evangelia Adamou, Katharina Haude and Martine Vanhove (eds.) Information Structure in Lesser-Described Languages: Studies in Syntax and Prosody. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  • Arndt Riester (to appear). Constructing QUD trees. In Malte Zimmermann, Klaus von Heusinger and Edgar Onea (eds.) Questions in Discourse. Vol. 2: Pragmatics. Leiden: Brill.
  • Arndt Riester and Stefan Baumann (2017). The RefLex Scheme – Annotation Guidelines. Vol. 14 of SinSpeC. Working papers of the SFB 732. University of Stuttgart.

Work in progress

  • Arndt Riester and Asako Shiohara (accepted). Information structure in Sumbawa: A QUD analysis.

Recently organised workshops

Prosody and Information Structure in Stuttgart (PINS)
University of Stuttgart
March 22-23, 2016
Organised by Arndt Riester, Nadja Schauffler, Meg Zellers and Sabine Zerbian

Workshop on Universals in Focus, Background and Givenness Marking
University of Stuttgart
January 18-19, 2016
Organised by Daniel Hole and Arndt Riester

Workshop on Empirical and Theoretical Approaches to Questions in Discourse
(Fifth Meeting of the DFG Network Questions in Discourse)
University of Stuttgart
May 21-22, 2014
Organised by Arndt Riester, Edgar Onea and Malte Zimmermann

Workshop on Topic/Focus Annotation (RAIS 2)
Freie Universität Berlin
April 4, 2014
Organised by Philippa Cook, Manfred Stede and Arndt Riester

Rethinking (the Annotation of) Anaphora and Information Structure (RAIS)
Institute for Natural Language Processing (IMS), University of Stuttgart
March 23-24, 2013
Organised by Massimo Poesio and Arndt Riester


Curriculum Vitae

    since 07/2006

    Senior Researcher

    Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung
    Sonderforschungsbereich 732 Incremental Specification in Context

    Project A6 Encoding of Information Structure in German and French (since 2014)

    Project A1 Incremental Specification of Focus and Givenness in a Discourse Context (2006--2014)

    02/2017 - 05/2017

    Visiting Associate Professor

    Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (東京外国語大学), Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa

    04/2012 - 09/2012

    Interim Professor

    Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Department of English Language and Literature
    Chair of Linguistics (Semantics / Pragmatics)


    Doctoral Dissertation in Computational Linguistics / Formal Semantics

    Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung
    Thesis: The Components of Focus and their Use in Annotating Information Structure (Adviser: Hans Kamp)

    05/2005 - 06/2006

    PhD Scholarship

    Universität Stuttgart, Graduate School 609 Linguistic Representations and their Interpretation

    01/2002 - 04/2005


    Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung
    Project: Logic-Based Semantics-Pragmatics Interface

    09/1998 - 07/2001

    MA in Linguistics

    Universiteit van Amsterdam -- Department of Linguistics, and Institute of Logic, Language and Computation
    Thesis: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective on Attributive Possession

    10/1996 - 08/1998

    Undergraduate in Linguistics, Computer Science and Psychology

    Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen

    10/1994 - 01/1997

    Undergraduate in Computer Science and Business Studies (Vordiplom)

    Universität Ulm