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Title: Cognitive processing of proper names
Author: Hollis, Jarrod
ISNI:       0000 0001 3580 586X
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2000
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The distinct processing characteristics of proper names have been characterised in various ways. Proper names have been considered unique, meaningless labels, and pure referencing expressions. A recent model by Valentine, Brennen and Bredart (1996) attributes the processing characteristics of people's names to processing via a token marker in memory. This thesis attempts to ascertain which of these explanations most adequately captures the processing characteristics of proper names. The first two experiments address evidence reported by Durso and O'Sullivan (1983) that would undermine the Valentine et al. (1996) model. The experiments indicate that Durso and O'Sullivan's data occurred as an artefact of their experimental design. Chapters 4 and 5 use a repetition priming technique to explore different classes of proper names: people's names, landmark names, country names and city names. Only names of people and landmark names produced cross modal and cross domain facilitation. The organisation of the output lexicon was addressed with five experiments reported in Chapter 6 using variants of the picture-word interference paradigm. It was found that common name distracters interfered with the production of proper name targets when a conceptual relationship existed between the target and the distracter. These data indicated that the lemma stage is highly influenced by semantic status and questioned the nature of organisation within the lemma. This thesis provides support for Valentine et al. (1996) indicating that the processing characteristics of people's names are determined by the nature of connectivity between the lemma and the token marker. The experiments reported in this thesis extend the role of the token marker to some classes of proper name other than people's names (i.e. landmarks). The data also demonstrate that the role of a token marker is not universal for all categories of proper name (i.e. not country names or city names). Differences between categories of proper name indicate that the theoretical views of uniqueness and meaninglessness do not adequately capture the diverse processing attributes of proper names.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral