ERIC Number: ED184375
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Feb
Reference Count: 0
On "Basic Levels" and the Categorization of Objects in English Discourse.
Downing, Pamela A.
The factors which influence a speaker's decision to use one categorization for an object as opposed to others that are available are analyzed. The categories that are most used in speech are basic level categories established at the most abstract level at which the category members: (1) share a number of physical and functional attributes, (2) elicit a consistent motor pattern from human interacting with them, and (3) exhibit a similar, easily recognizable shape. Data obtained from free speech samples correlate with that obtained from a controlled linguistic environment experiment and substantiate the hypothesis. When superordinate rather than basic level categorization is used, it is usually due to the need to refer to groups of individuals, the effects of generalization in memory, or the need to refer to objects of poor basic level codability. Where distinct differences cannot be drawn among the superordinate, basic level, and subordinate lexical choices, other classificatory parameters must be considered. Contextual factors are important in determining lexical choice for the categorizations used and must be adapted to the exigencies of the speech situation. (PMJ)
Descriptors: Classification, Discourse Analysis, Discrimination Learning, Language Patterns, Language Usage, Perception, Pragmatics, Speech Communication, Vocabulary Development
Berkeley Linguistics Society, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 ($8.20 for entire Proceedings)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (3rd, Berkeley, CA, February 19-21, 1977).