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On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."



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Dissertation Information


Title: The Semantics of 'Since' Add Dissertation
Author: June Wickboldt Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Indiana University Bloomington
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Nino Cocchiarella
Linda Schwartz
Alice Meulen
Natsuko Tsujimura

Abstract: This study gives a detailed analysis of the connective 'since'. Seven structural diagnostic tests were designed to distinguish temporal, causal, and ambiguous meanings of 'since', which are examplified in (1)-(3).

(1) Since John graduated from college, he's been unemployed. =temporal

(2) Since Mary knew his qualifications, she recommended him for the position. =causal

(3) Since Mary won the marathon, she's been happy. =ambiguous.

From the analysis of verbal inflection, aspectual class, predicate type, adverbial modification, and negation, it is concluded that a unique temporal anchor in the 'since'-clause and a main clause perfect state of affairs description are necessary conditions for a temporal meaning. Of curucial importance for a causal meaning is satisfaction of a causal dependency. The result of the analysis are incorporated into Discourse Representation Theory (DRT). A definition of 'since' is given and forms the basis for a DRT Construction Rule for temporal 'since'. It was found that manner adverbial modification of the state of affairs described in the 'since'-clause blocks a temporal meaning, as in (4), and induces a causal meaning, as in (5).

(4) #Since Aunt Jane arrived unexpectedly, she has been busy.

(5) Since Aunt Jane arrived unexpectedly, we had to change our weekend plans.=causal

It is proposed that these effects are due to the modification suspending the telicity of the event description, which violates the anchor condition for temporal 'since'. The causal meaning of 'since' results from the connective associating with the adverbial in focus. it is argued that current theories of licensing of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) cannot adequately account for NPIs in temporal clauses, including 'since'-clauses in 'temporal focus' and 'temporal measure' constructions,as illustrated in (6) and (7).

(6) It is two weeks since John bought any cigarettes.

(7) Two weeks have passed since John bought any cigarettes.

An event-based dynamic approach, which considers the context change property of connectives, is required. Results of analyzing both the content of the sentences and their entailments and presuppositions are given in DRT conditions. The approach is then incorporated into Progovac's theory of NPI licensing.