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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: The Transformation of Spatial Experience in Narrative Discourse Add Dissertation
Author: Blake Howald Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Georgetown University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Computational Linguistics;
Director(s): E Katz
Heidi Hamilton
David Herman
William McDonald

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the status of spatial information as a
structural element of narratives of personal experience. Traditionally,
event, temporal and rhetorical relation information are considered
structural - i.e., minimally necessary to define local and textual elements
of narrative discourse. However, while this information is readily apparent
from surface linguistic forms, spatial information, and its status as
structural, is less straightforward. To uncover correspondences between
spatial information and structural elements of narrative discourse, I rely
on a series of machine learning experiments to analyze morpho-syntactic,
formal and cognitive semantically encoded spatial information indexed by
spatial prepositions and verbs from a particular frame of reference,
relative to events, rhetorical relations, tense, aspect, explicit temporal
reference and text sequence in three corpora of narrative discourses
(conversational, adventure travel, and criminal activity narratives).

Based on strength of prediction in the machine learning experiments - where
statistical classifiers are able to predict spatial, temporal, event and
rhetorical information to between 60% and 70% accuracy with an increase to
over 80% when implicit spatial information and text sequence are considered
- spatial information is argued to demonstrate structural patterns on
clausal and textual levels. These structural patterns hold for all corpora
despite contextual parameters, number of authors, length of text and
density of spatial information. Further, the results and analysis are
compared to existing narrative analysis frameworks (Labov 1972, Herman
2001) where it is determined that a more nuanced, but non-contradictory,
picture of spatial information in narrative discourse, based on both
syntactic and semantic considerations, emerges from the presented research.
Additionally, I engage in a discussion of environmental criminology to
bridge interdisciplinary gaps between cognitively informed insights into
spatial language and the linguistic conveyance of experiential discourse.
In sum, spatial information exhibits structural patterns in narrative
discourses that facilitate a deeper practical and theoretical understanding
of the cognitive and linguistic organization, and analysis of experiential