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Title: A logical model of competence and performance in the human sentence processor
Author: Crocker, Matthew W.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1992
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This thesis is concerned with the way in which principled theories of syntax and modular theories of mind may participate in an incremental model of human linguistic performance. Central to current linguistic theory is the distinction between competence, what we know about language, and performance, how we use that knowledge. While current theories of grammar suggest a highly modular, abstract, language universal characterisation of linguistic competence, traditional models of performance have postulated parsing strategies based on construction-oriented, phrase-structure grammars. In contrast, we construct a principled theory of performance on the basis of cross-linguistic evidence, with the aim of shedding greater light on the relationship between grammar and processing. On the basis of Fodor's Modularity Hypothesis and a range of empirical evidence, we assume the existence of a distinct syntactic processor within the human sentence processor. We further hypothesize The Principle of Incremental Comprehension, entailing that the sentence processor strive to achieve maximal incremental comprehension as each word in a sentence is encountered. To achieve global incremental comprehension at the various levels of linguistic processing (syntactic, semantic, etc.) we therefore predict that modules operate concurrently. We then suggest that the modularity paradigm is one to be exploited whenever possible, precisely because it permits distributed processing within a particular domain, thereby improving real-time performance. This maxim of modularity, combined with the natural partitioning of syntactic information into several informationally encapsulated representation types leads us to posit four sub-modules within the syntactic processor. (1) phrase structure, (2) chain structure, (3) coreference, and (4) thematic structure.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available