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ERIC Number: ED555335
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 253
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3033-9493-5
Event Participant Representations and the Instrumental Role: A Cross-Linguistic Study
Rissman, Lilia
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
We represent events as composed of participants. In "Joan was eating lasagna in the lecture hall," for example, this eating event is "partitioned" into participants, including at least Joan, the lasagna, and the lecture hall. In this dissertation, I address two questions about events and the participants that populate them: first, to what extent do we represent event participants as tokens of abstract roles such as Agent? Second, what is the role of the verb in partitioning events into participants? I address these questions through the case study of instrumental participants, as in "Joan was eating lasagna with a fork." In a comparison of the semantic properties of instrumental "with" and "use," I argue that Instrument is not a semantic primitive, but that "with" and "use" each encode different instrumental properties. Specifically, "with" requires that the instrument be part of a minimal instance of an event, whereas "use" specifies that acting on the instrument satisfies the agent's goals. I then address whether verbs such as "slice" require that events of this type contain an instrument, and whether this requirement indicates that an instrument is an argument of "slice." In a novel experimental task, subjects reported their judgments about verbs and the event participants they require. The results from this experiment suggest that instruments are not arguments, but that properties of verbal meaning bias the agent to be interpreted as having subparts. In a second set of studies, I investigated the cross-linguistic generality of these findings. Although the instrument does not appear to be an argument of "slice," there may be languages where a verb with a similar meaning as "slice" does have an instrument argument. To test this hypothesis, I conducted the judgment study described above with speakers of Spanish and Mandarin. The results were strikingly similar across English, Spanish and Mandarin, suggesting that in this domain, concepts about events correspond to language-specific lexicalizations in uniform ways. These studies converge on the same broad understanding of the nature of the instrumental role: a participant that is an extension of the agent. [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