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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Temporal Subordination in Discourse Add Dissertation
Author: Beverly Spejewski Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Rochester, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1994
Linguistic Subfield(s): Semantics;
Director(s): Gregory Carlson

Abstract: This dissertation develops a theory of temporal subordination, incorporated into a theory of the temporal interpretation of discourse. Temporal subordination occurs when one clause of a discourse (or of a single sentence) sets up the timespan in which a subsequent clause is understood to occur. This is a phenomenon that has been noticed recently by a few people (e.g. G\\'{o}rel Sandstr\\'{o}m, 1993) in relation to a very small set of lexical items, such as {\\it when}. I build on the notion, which has previously been defined only in a very vague way and in relation to a limited and specific set of linguistic structures, and I show that it is a widespread and well-defined phenomenon, and that a theory of the interpretation of temporal subordination can account for a number of discourse phenomena. These include why certain sequences of eventualities (events and states) are restricted to particular temporal interpretations and why certain sequences are not possible. The theory also predicts the kinds of temporal relationships that subsequent clauses can bear to the previously-analyzed clauses. A central notion is that there are only two basic kinds of temporal relationships, sequentiality and subordination, and that all discourses can be analyzed as a combination of these two kinds of relationships. The analysis provides for a hierarchical temporal structure in which events may be seen as being part of another event, as overlapping with other events, and so on.

A tree-type framework similar to that used for rhetorical relations depictions (e.g. Polanyi (1988), Webber (1991)) is used to represent the temporal structure of a sequence of sentences. The structure is dynamic, and it shows the relationship between any two events or sets of events. This framework makes it easy to predict what temporal relationships are possible between the discourse to date and the next clause in the discourse. The theory makes use of the notion of {\\it reference times} as time intervals during which events occur. This is a different notion than the reference times used by Reichenbach (1947), but similar to those employed by Partee (1984) and HJinrichs (1986). Temporal relations are specified between reference times and not between the events themselves.