Open-Access-Bücher zur anglistischen Sprachwissenschaft

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Concessive constructions in varieties of English

Ole Schüt­zler

This vol­ume presents a syn­chron­ic inves­ti­ga­tion of con­ces­sive con­struc­tions in nine vari­eties of Eng­lish, based on data from the Inter­na­tion­al Cor­pus of Eng­lish. The struc­tures of inter­est are com­plex sen­tences with a sub­or­di­nate clause intro­duced by althoughthough or even though.

Var­i­ous func­tion­al and for­mal fea­tures are tak­en into account: (i) the semantic/pragmatic rela­tion that holds between the propo­si­tions involved, (ii) the posi­tion of the sub­or­di­nate clause, (iii) the con­junc­tion that is used, and (iv) the syn­tax of the sub­or­di­nate clause.

By explor­ing pat­terns of vari­a­tion from a Con­struc­tion Gram­mar per­spec­tive, the study works towards an explana­to­ry mod­el, whose point of depar­ture is at the func­tion­al (semantic/pragmatic) lev­el, and which makes hier­ar­chi­cal­ly organ­ised pre­dic­tions for dif­fer­ent for­mal lev­els (clause posi­tion, choice of con­nec­tive and real­i­sa­tion of the sub­or­di­nate clause). It treats con­ces­sives as com­plex form-func­tion pair­ings, and devel­ops argu­ments and rou­tines that may inform quan­ti­ta­tive approach­es to con­struc­tion­al vari­a­tion more gen­er­al­ly.

Production, perception, and comprehension of subphonemic detail: word-final /s/ in English

Dominic Schmitz

The com­plex­i­ties of speech pro­duc­tion, per­cep­tion, and com­pre­hen­sion are enor­mous. The­o­ret­i­cal approach­es of these com­plex­i­ties most recent­ly face the chal­lenge of account­ing for find­ings on sub­phone­mic dif­fer­ences. The aim of the present dis­ser­ta­tion is to estab­lish a robust foun­da­tion of find­ings on such sub­phone­mic dif­fer­ences.

One rather pop­u­lar case for dif­fer­ences in sub­phone­mic detail is word-final /s/ and /z/ in Eng­lish (hence­forth S) as it con­sti­tutes a num­ber of mor­pho­log­i­cal func­tions. Using word-final S, three gen­er­al issues are inves­ti­gat­ed. First, are there sub­phone­mic dura­tional dif­fer­ences between dif­fer­ent types of word-final S? If there are such dif­fer­ences, how can they be account­ed for? Sec­ond, can such sub­phone­mic dura­tional dif­fer­ences be per­ceived? Third, do such sub­phone­mic dura­tional dif­fer­ences influ­ence the com­pre­hen­sion of S?

These ques­tions are inves­ti­gat­ed by five high­ly con­trolled stud­ies: a pro­duc­tion task, an imple­men­ta­tion of Lin­ear Dis­crim­i­na­tive Learn­ing, a same-dif­fer­ent task, and two num­ber-deci­sion tasks. Using not only real words but also pseu­do­words as tar­get items, poten­tial­ly con­found­ing effects of lex­i­cal stor­age are con­trolled for.

Con­cern­ing the first issue, the results show that there are indeed dura­tional dif­fer­ences between dif­fer­ent types of word-final S. Non-mor­phemic S is longest in dura­tion, clitic S is short­est in dura­tion, and plur­al S dura­tion is in-between non-mor­phemic S and clitic S dura­tions. It appears that the dura­tional dif­fer­ences are con­nect­ed to a word’s seman­tic acti­va­tion diver­si­ty and its phono­log­i­cal cer­tain­ty. Regard­ing the sec­ond issue, sub­phone­mic dura­tional dif­fer­ences in word-final S can be per­ceived, with high­er lev­els of per­cep­ti­bil­i­ty for dif­fer­ences of 35 ms and high­er. In regard to the third issue, sub­phone­mic dura­tional dif­fer­ences are found not to influ­ence the speed of com­pre­hen­sion, but show a sig­nif­i­cant effect on the process of com­pre­hen­sion. The over­all results give raise to a revi­sion of var­i­ous extant mod­els of speech pro­duc­tion, per­cep­tion, and com­pre­hen­sion.

The semantics of English ‑ment nominalizations

Lea Kawaletz

It is well-known that deriva­tion­al affix­es can be high­ly pol­y­se­mous, pro­duc­ing a range of dif­fer­ent, often relat­ed, mean­ings. For exam­ple, Eng­lish dever­bal nouns with the suf­fix -er can denote instru­ments (open­er), agents (writer), loca­tions (din­er), or patients (loan­er). It is com­mon­ly assumed that this pol­y­se­my aris­es through a com­po­si­tion­al process in which the affix inter­acts with the seman­tics of the base. Yet, despite inten­sive research in recent years, a work­able mod­el for this inter­ac­tion is still under debate.

In order to study and mod­el the seman­tic con­tri­bu­tions of the base and of the affix, a frame­work is need­ed in which mean­ings can be com­posed and decom­posed.
In this book, I for­mal­ize the seman­tic input and out­put of deriva­tion by means of frames, that is, recur­sive attribute-val­ue struc­tures that serve to mod­el men­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tions of con­cepts. In my approach, the input frame offers an array of seman­tic ele­ments from which an affix may select to con­struct the derivative’s mean­ing.
The rela­tion­ship between base and deriv­a­tive is made explic­it by inte­grat­ing their respec­tive frame-seman­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tions into lex­i­cal rules and inher­i­tance hier­ar­chies.

I apply this approach to a qual­i­ta­tive cor­pus study of the pro­duc­tive rela­tion­ship between the Eng­lish nom­i­nal­iz­ing suf­fix -ment and a seman­ti­cal­ly delim­it­ed set of ver­bal bases. My data set con­sists of 40 neol­o­gisms with base verbs from two seman­tic class­es, name­ly change-of-state verbs and verbs of psy­cho­log­i­cal state. I ana­lyze 369 attes­ta­tions which were elicit­ed from var­i­ous cor­po­ra with a pur­pose­ful sam­pling approach, and which were hand-cod­ed using com­mon seman­tic cat­e­gories such as event, state, patient and stim­u­lus.

My results show that -ment can tar­get a sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly restrict­ed set of ele­ments in the frame of a giv­en base verb. It there­by pro­duces a range of pos­si­ble read­ings in each deriv­a­tive, which becomes ulti­mate­ly inter­pretable only with­in a spe­cif­ic con­text. The deriva­tion­al process is gov­erned by an inter­ac­tion of the seman­tic ele­ments pro­vid­ed by the base on the one hand, with prop­er­ties of the affix (e.g. -ment’s aver­sion to [+ani­mate] read­ings) on the oth­er. For instance, a shift from the verb annoy to a result-state read­ing in annoy­ment is pos­si­ble because the input frame of verbs of psy­cho­log­i­cal state offers a RESULT-STATE attribute, which, as is fixed in the inher­i­tance hier­ar­chy, is com­pat­i­ble with -ment. Mean­while, a shift from annoy to an expe­ri­encer read­ing in annoy­ment fails because the val­ue range of the attribute EXPERIENER is fixed to [+ani­mate] enti­ties, so that -ment’s ani­ma­cy con­straint blocks the inher­i­tance mech­a­nism.

Fur­ther­more, a quan­ti­ta­tive explo­ration of my data set reveals a like­ly block­ing effect for some -ment read­ings. Thus, while I have found most expect­ed com­bi­na­tions of nom­i­nal­iza­tion and read­ing attest­ed, there are pro­nounced gaps for read­ings like instru­ment or stim­u­lus. Such read­ings are like­ly to be pro­duced by stan­dard­ly sub­ject-denot­ing suf­fix­es such as -er or -ant, which may reduce the prob­a­bil­i­ty for -ment deriva­tion. The quan­ti­ta­tive analy­sis fur­ther­more shows that, with­in the sub­set of attest­ed com­bi­na­tions, ambi­gu­i­ty is wide­spread, with 43% of all com­bi­na­tions of nom­i­nal­iza­tion and read­ing being only attest­ed ambigu­ous­ly.

This book shows how a deriva­tion­al process acts on the seman­tics of a giv­en ver­bal base by report­ing on an in-depth qual­i­ta­tive study of the seman­tic con­tri­bu­tions of both the base and the affix. Fur­ther­more, it demon­strates that an explic­it seman­tic decom­po­si­tion of the base is essen­tial for the analy­sis of the result­ing derivative’s seman­tics.

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