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Title: Semantic structure and perception of relevance in discussions
Author: Abramovici, Relu-Shimon
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1977
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This thesis deals with the question how unity of content is achieved or what constraints there are on what can be said next in a discussion. The importance of content and of structure beyond chained pairs of utterances is emphasized. The literature reviewed suggests that this approach differs from other ones in that the other approaches study speech acts, and thus, deal with function rather than content, although many of them investigate simple 'chaining'. Two models and five experimental studies were reported. One pilot study was a replication of Clarke's 1975 experiment. People attempted to put in the right order a set of speaking turns from a conversation. The main observation was that people tended to group utterances belonging to the same subject-matter, which suggests that discourse has structure beyond 'chaining'. The second study investigated some of the processes involved in achieving cohesion in discourse. Information was obtained about interpretation of discourse and the operation of planning and anticipation in discourse production. The next three studies were concerned with continuity of content and its relation to judgments of relevance. It was demonstrated that judged relevance was highest when referents in discourse were related both to the theme and to the previous referent; these judgments declined when one of these relations was implicit or when a referent was related to the theme indirectly, and they were lowest when it was difficult to relate the referents. There was fair agreement between the judgments of the interlocutors and those of independent judges. It was also found that judgment of relevance was affected by continuity of referents, dimensions, and values, but the nature of the effect was specific to each example. These findings were discussed in terms of the questions raised earlier.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available