Language from a dynamic perspective: models in general and grammar in particular

Ravelli, Louise Jane (1991). Language from a dynamic perspective: models in general and grammar in particular. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores what it means to take a dynamic perspective on language, in the sense of describing language as it unfolds, or as if it were unfolding. It builds the framework of a model which enables language to be described from this perspective, and applies the proposals to the description of grammar. It is a major point of the thesis that the nature of the perspective used in the model should be independent of the data to which it is applied; thus, while grammar is the least tractable area for a dynamically oriented description, it is felt that successful application of the principIes to this area shouId confirm the importance and independence of perspective in terms of modelIing.
The thesis begins with an overview of the ways in which 'dynamic' can be used in relation to linguistic studies. The focus is identified as the unfolding of a Iinguistic event, and we are particularly concerned with how this perspective has been approached within the systemic functional school of linguistics. It is argued that previous systemic approaches have not fully grasped the independence of perspective in relation to modelIing.
In order to capture a fully dynamic perspective on language, the thesis elaborates its central features (an unfolding, progressive view of active, probabilistic choice). Ways in which such features have previously been implemented are examined, and a model is developed to integrate these features in a Iinguistic description. The model incorporates three metaphors to faciIitate this - the metaphors of paths, stacks and contextuaI frame. The model is then applied to an analysis of grammar, in terms of grammatical units and metafunctional considerations.
It is demonstrated that a change in perspective affects what it is that we say, and can say, about language. It has implications for function as seen from this point of view, and for the way in which context is described. While entirely based on systemic functional theory, the grammatical analysis as seen from a different perspective is radical and novel. Issues of unit boundaries, the role of particular grammtical items, and the role of the metafunctions, are al I brought into question.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English Language and Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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