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LINGUIST List 21.3047

Fri Jul 23 2010

Diss: Syntax: Steele: 'A Hubterranean View of Syntax: An analysis ...'

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        1.    Julie Steele, A Hubterranean View of Syntax: An analysis of linguistic form through network theory

Message 1: A Hubterranean View of Syntax: An analysis of linguistic form through network theory
Date: 21-Jul-2010
From: Julie Steele <julie.steele.linggmail.com>
Subject: A Hubterranean View of Syntax: An analysis of linguistic form through network theory
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Institution: University of Queensland
Program: PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Julie Louise Steele

Dissertation Title: A Hubterranean View of Syntax: An analysis of linguistic form through network theory

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director:
John Ingram
Robert Pensalfini
Dr Andrew Smith

Dissertation Abstract:

Language is part of nature, and as such, certain general principles that
generate the form of natural systems, will also create the patterns found
within linguistic form. Since network theory is one of the best theoretical
frameworks for extracting general principles from diverse systems, this
thesis examines how a network perspective can shed light on the
characteristics and the learning of syntax.

When nodes represent words and links represent precedence relations between
adjacent words in a sentence, patterns of word co-occurrences form a
network (BNC World Edition 2001; Sachs 1983; MacWhinney 2000). The
resulting network, characterized by hub words that are highly connected and
frequent, is formed through an optimisation process that maximizes the
cohesion between words whilst maximizing the amount of novel word
combinations. Within this optimized network it is argued that the notion of
a general syntactic category is not evidenced and as such is inadmissible.
Thus, non-general or construction-specific categories are preferred (in
line with Croft 2001).

Furthermore, syntactic categories are formed within the areas of the
network highlighted by the hub words which are temporarily displaced from
the optimized state of the network. There is also evidence suggesting that
this hub structure is not only found in the word co-occurrence network, but
within other theoretical syntactic levels. Factors affecting the choice of
a verb that is generalised early relate to the formation and the
characteristics of hubs. Furthermore, the optimisation process that creates
hubterranean structure is implicated in the verb-construction subpart
network of the adult's linguistic knowledge, the psychological principles
underpinning the mapping of the construction as well as certain strategies
aiding first language learning and adult artificial language learning.



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