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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: Representation and Interpretation at the Syntax-Discourse Interface: Establishing dependency Add Dissertation
Author: Petra Burkhardt Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Yale University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Psycholinguistics;
Director(s): Laurence Horn
Sergey Avrutin
Maria Piñango

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the establishment of pronominal-antecedent dependencies, which are processes during which two entities form a dependency relation with each other in order to refer to the same entity in mental representation. I present a model of syntax-discourse correspondences to account for different dependency relations available to the language system and provide supporting evidence for this model from three sources of online sentence comprehension.

One particular kind of entities that require the establishment of a dependency are pronominal elements, which are referentially dependent on an antecedent, as their interpretation is not sufficiently determined by their lexical content. Different pronominals are claimed to be subject to different dependency relations. Within the syntax-discourse model, a dependency is a function of the phrase-structural relation (i.e. coargumenthood) and the representation of discourse referents (i.e. file card management). This dissertation examines the distinct dependencies by investigating the processing of different pronominal elements (particularly, coargument reflexives, logophors, and pronouns) and the factors that determine the level at which these entities are interpreted.

Chapter 1 presents general assumptions about the language system. Chapter 2 provides an overview of previous approaches to pronominal interpretation. Chapter 3 presents the syntax-discourse model, which claims that two levels of representation – syntax and discourse – are required for the establishment of pronominal-antecedent dependencies. Subsequent chapters present psycho- and neurolinguistic evidence for this claim. In chapter 4, a series of cross-modal lexical decision interference studies from English and Dutch test the psycholinguistic reality of the two levels of representation. Results suggest that two levels are required for the interpretation of different pronominal elements as evidenced by increased processing demands to discourse-based dependencies. Chapter 5 investigates the real-time comprehension of pronominals in Broca’s aphasia patients. The findings indicate that syntactic structure formation is a prerequisite for any kind of pronominal-antecedent dependency, regardless of the level, at which interpretation is ultimately established. Chapter 6 reports a series of event-related brain potential studies. The results support the distinction between syntactic and discourse dependencies and further reveal that different discourse-internal mechanisms elicit distinct processing patterns. Finally, chapter 7 summarizes the findings.