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Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."


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Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."



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Dissertation Information


Title: The Phenomenon of the Word THE in English - discourse functions and distribution patterns Add Dissertation
Author: Ring Mei Han Low Update Dissertation
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Institution: University at Buffalo, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2005
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Semantics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): David Zubin
Matthew Dryer

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the use of the article THE in English, in order to answer two questions that have long puzzled linguists. First, why do speakers use the article THE in a noun phrase when they do? Second, what elements in discourse enable the hearers to interpret the referent denoted with THE as it is? The dissertation argues that English speakers use the article THE to introduce a concept when it shall be conceived as a 'dependent concept' specific to the discourse world. In the meantime, the hearers interpret the referent based on 'genre-specific' conventions triggered by the article. It proposes that speech participants, in order to interpret the entity denoted by the word THE in each communication, would need a communicative assumption to state how the content of the communication (i.e., the anticipated discourse world) may relate to themselves and to the reality.

In addition to the above proposal, the dissertation presents two studies. The first one reports data collected from 1417 definite noun phrases in a corpus of various genres from 20 articles found on the Internet. It was found that not all referents denoted with THE in English are 'anaphoric' or 'familiar'. Approximately half of the definite noun phrases with THE found in the corpus do not have an explicit previous mention in the discourse (e.g., perspective related, Inferable, referents of unique instance). The study describes various types of these noun phrases, their frequencies, and discusses some of their characteristics in terms of existing theories relevant to definiteness (e.g., point of view, discourse givenness, spread activation, genres).

The second study reports data conducted from a Google web search of 1399 nouns and compares the frequencies of them occurring with the articles A and THE, with the English demonstratives THIS and THAT, and with the English pronouns MY, HIS, and HER. The results show that some nouns in English are much more likely to occur with the article THE than otherwise. They include words of certain ontological classes, such as locative expressions, parts of inanimate objects, superlatives, and entities of nature. The study concludes that when contextual knowledge becomes secondary, ontological knowledge and grammatical heuristics play a heavy role in the interpretation of noun phrases with THE.

The dissertation contains eight chapters. Chapter 1 is the introduction. Chapter 2 provides discussions on previous research on definiteness and accessibility. Chapter 3 discusses the communicative function of THE in unpredictable definite noun phrases and introduces the model of Discourse World Assumption, which is discussed in terms of different communicative assumptions shared by the speech participants. Chapter 4 discusses the function of iconicity and the occurrence or absence of the in NPs that are predictably definite. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 present a frequency survey of the use of the in natural discourse, identify the different contexts in which the article is used, and discuss various types of information that are involved in the interpretation of definite referents. Chapter 7 presents an Internet search study that compares the frequencies of the article the, other pre-nominal elements and a set of nouns occur after them. Finally, Chapter 8 concludes the investigation.