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Title: Grammar, lexis and context
Author: Batstone, Rob
Awarding Body: Institute of Education (University of London)
Current Institution: UCL Institute of Education (IOE)
Date of Award: 1991
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Language teaching has been strongly influenced over recent years by talk of notions and functions, most notably through Wilkins' (1976) work on Notional Syllabuses. Yet the notional/functional syllabus has been criticized for failing to capture anything more than a superficial correspondence between form and meaning. In this thesis I argue for a framework in which a deeper congruence between form and meaning is developed. I identify regularities in the lexico-syntactic structure of English which express recognizable notional relationships, which in turn reflect deeper conceptualizations of relations between events and participants. These conceptualizations are represented on a semantic continuum of 'contextual distance'. By reference to this continuum, I argue that we can identify a clear congruence between increasing conceptual complexity and increasing lexicosyntactic complexity. This account gives considerable prominence to the role of lexis, and to the interdependence between grammar, lexis and context in the signalling of meaning, something which has not always been adequately considered within linguistics or within applied linguistics. I then consider a possible application of these ideas to pedagogy. In many 'product' approaches to syllabus design and methodology, learners work with language forms whose meanings are to an extent already fixed, with grammar subsuming lexis and with cotext and context already clearly related by the materials designer. In such approaches the interdependence between grammar, lexis and context is sometimes lost sight of, and I argue for a revised approach in which this interdependence is made central. Thus learners are encouraged to fashion their own meanings by working with lexical items, and by learning to grammaticize these lexical items by reference to context. By separating out grammar and lexis in this way, learners are given direct access to the deeper congruence between form and meaning - between grammar, lexis and context. The format of the thesis is as follows . I begin with a selective review of work in linguistics (chapter one) and applied linguistics (chapter two), arguing that the importance of the grammar/lexis relationship has not (by and large) been much investigated. In chapter three I introduce the continuum of contextual distance, outlining a general hypothesis in which relationships between grammar, lexis and context are linked to a deeper understanding of the congruence between form and meaning. I go on to develop the detail of this hypothesis, looking both at ideational meanings (chapter four) and interpersonal meanings (chapter five). Stepping back from these detailed arguments, I conclude by presenting an approach to classroom methodology (chapter six) and to syllabus design (chapter seven) based on the concept of learner grammaticization.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available