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Title: The status of thematic-conceptual structure in language processing and linguistic structure
Author: Evans, Grant James
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Thematic-conceptual structure is a representational type that cuts across syntax and psycholinguistics. It is grounded in our phylogenetic and ontogenetic history and therefore has biological validity. This thesis outlines how thematic-conceptual structure is motivated and represented. Syntactic and psycholinguistic phenomena are interpreted and explained in thematic-conceptual terms. Thematic-conceptual structure is also argued to be a much better predictor and representational basis of sentence-level priming than syntactic structure. This thesis outlines a representational theory of thematic roles that is relevant to both syntactic structure and sentence processing, whilst at the same time being compatible with our knowledge of the ontogeny and phylogeny of language. The thesis is multidisciplinary in its nature, and this is reflected in its structure. After the introductory chapter, the next two chapters (2 and 3) establish the status of thematic roles in current theory. Conflicts between the disciplines are indicated. There is also an exposition of empirical facts that have to be explained by any successful theory of thematic roles. The following two chapters (4 and 5) investigate the evolution of language and language acquisition, in order to find further indications as to the form the theory of thematic relations should take. The position taken is that any realistic theory of thematic roles that claim should necessarily reflect the ontogeny and phylogeny of the human linguistic capability. In chapter 6 I investigate proposals as to how linguistic parameters could be set and what form these parameters could take. This is a precursor to chapter 7 where the theory of thematic structure (or more accurately, thematic-conceptual structure) is set out. The theory consists of a series of representational levels. The levels reflect both the phylogenetic and ontogenic order of language development. The representation of each level is described, and the motivations for their form and content as based on the discussion of the earlier chapters is explained. The final two chapters reapply the theory of thematic-conceptual structure to the empirical date that had been described in the preliminary chapters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available