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ERIC Number: ED551043
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 227
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2677-2182-2
Generating Alternatives: Interpreting Focus in Discourse
Kim, Christina S.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Rochester
This dissertation investigates a class of context-dependent expressions--focus-sensitive particles--as a way of addressing how language users draw on contextual information to interpret expressions whose meanings are underdetermined by their forms. While the problem of context dependence has been widely studied, the question of precisely what cognitive processes and representations are involved in interpreting context-sensitive meanings online has been relatively under-researched. The current work picks up where the work of semanticists leaves off after defining context-invariant aspects of meaning, trying to characterize the workings of the pragmatics as a kind of interface between context-invariant meaning and particular situations of language use. By investigating the online interpretation of focus particles in spoken language, this study tackles an additional source of indeterminacy: in addition to semantic representations being underspecified by virtue of being context-dependent, the forms corresponding to these representations are indeterminate at each timepoint over the duration of an utterance. The observation that listeners are able to fluently interpret partial linguistic inputs given available contextual information tells us that the information contributed by small units of linguistic input can be used immediately by the processor, in addition to meaning representations that specify the relation of a linguistic expression to a complete sentential meaning. Investigating these two forms of indeterminate meaning in tandem will provides insights that asking these questions in isolation would not, and ultimately allow a reformulation of the research question that cuts up the explanatory pie in a way that departs from the classical division of labor among grammatical competence, language (and non-linguistic) processing, and communicative goals. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A