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Implicit causality of action verbs at the interface between conceptual structure and discourse coherence relations

Abstract

Implicit causality of interpersonal transitive verbs (IC) pertains to preferences to attribute the cause of a given action to the subject or the object referent in active clauses. Causal attribution is operationalized as the probability of referential continuation in a subsequent explanatory clause. This paper presents an explorative investigation into the causal biases of action verbs, which in contrast to affective verbs have received less attention in IC research. We approach implicit causality as a discourse level phenomenon based on the textual level of discourse representation and enriched by conceptual knowledge. In study 1, we targeted IC effects of German action verbs (N = 52) in sentences containing causal, additive and adversative connectives. Results showed that IC based categories of subject-object-, and non-biasing predicates were clearly discernable in causal contexts only. In study 2, we examined effects of situational knowledge (physical affectedness & social acceptability) and affective appraisals (valence & arousal) represented in the conceptual structure of the verbs on the construal of causality biases and their interplay with immediate contextual information such as gender of referents. Results show that higher degrees of physical affectedness were associated with causal attribution to the object referent. This effect was modulated by the affective properties of the verbs. Our findings revealed the influence of physiological arousal, an affective dimension not considered in previous investigations of IC. Actions with a strong physical impact that were characterized by high arousal, e.g., kick, or tickle were more likely to be explained with reference to the subject. Participants also considered the available contextual information, as indicated by the significant interactions of gender information with arousal. Within the subsample of non-biasing verbs, higher estimates for social behavior increased probabilities of causal attributions to the subject.

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The interpretation of singular nouns in the scope of an event-distributive quantifier

Abstract

Singular nouns in the scope of a distributive operator have been shown to be treated as conceptually plural (Patson and Warren, 2010). The source of this conceptual plurality is not fully clear. In particular, it is not known whether the concept of plurality associated with a singular noun originates from distributing over multiple objects or multiple events. In the present experiment, iterative expressions (distribution over events) were contrasted with collective and distributive sentences using a Stroop-like interference technique (Berent, Pinker, Tzelgov, Bibi, and Goldfarb, 2005; Patson and Warren, 2010). A trend in the data suggests that event distributivity does not elicit a plural interpretation of a grammatically singular noun, however the results were not statistically significant. Possible causes of the non-significant results are discussed.

Open access
Describing Life: Towards the Conception of Howard Pattee

Abstract

A description of living systems is still a topic of discussion among a number of disciplines. By an evaluation of the approaches, we get to an axis differentiating those that are indisputable in sense of dealing with verifiable and measurable phenomena. We thus also get to approaches that integrate particular extensions when dealing with the possibilities to describe living systems and processes. It is a task for biosemiotics to find connections of these approaches and thus ways to enrich each other or simply describe phenomena to the widest extent possible. One of the authors whose work is permeated by this idea is Howard Pattee. Inspired by his work, we discuss the options of description when talking about living systems and semiotic apparatuses. We do so by a formulation of two viewpoints that differ in questions of contextual dependency, interpretation and necessity of the existence of an autonomous agent as indispensable elements for the description of life phenomena.

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The role of the precedent phenomenon in creating a language game in the headlines of political media discourse

Abstract

The precedent phenomenon is estimated as a productive source for creating the language game in the headlines of political media discourse. Headlines based on a language game draw the attention of the reader more quickly. There are often used precedent phenomena, understood as culturally loaded signs, known to a major part of the representatives of the same national community. That is a precedent phenomenon that may serve multiple purposes. We have focused on its effect applied in the headings. The coincidence of the background knowledge of the author and the reader contributes to the hidden influence on the images of politicians formed in the mind of the reader.

Open access
A semiotic exploration of catastrophes in game worlds

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to overview the presence of catastrophes in game worlds and, in particular, to investigate what they can tell us about real catastrophes. To this end, we present a semiotic typol-ogy of catastrophes, confronting them with epistrophes and apostrophes and further articulating them relative and absolute cessation events. Then we highlight the long-standing relationship between playfulness and disasters in literature, cinema and video games underlining how the suppos-edly opposite characteristics of the two are, in fact, a very productive cultural trope. To conclude, we look into some examples of catastrophes in game worlds, both relative (such as the “corrupted blood incident” in World of Warcraft) and absolute (the end of the worlds in StarWars Galaxies and Matrix Online).

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Sign System Studies and Modern Socio-Anthropomorphism

Abstract

The article examines the individual and social, practical, and theoretical presumptions (“idols” and “beliefs”) that constitute the conscious and unconscious re-construction of the social reality and reality of different conventional sign systems that represent and are represented by society. It is shown that in everyday life and in theoretical studies, we quite often analyze sign systems as if they were autonomous and empirically “given” realities. The work explains how this “natural belief” originated and developed. It is argued that conventional sign systems cannot be reduced to the reality of material “sign vehicles” because in society, sign systems are both subjective and objective, internal and external, and process and object.

Open access
Some notes on split ergativity in Hittite

Abstract

The Hittite grammar is characterized by a morphosyntactic split that affects the behaviour of the inflectional classes of Noun phrases (DPs). While a singular neuter transitive subject is marked by /-anza/suffix, commons DPs end with an /-š/mark. In addition, intransitive neuter subjects and neuter objects pattern in the same way, marked by /-ø/, while in commons the object role is marked by an /-n/ ending, which distinguishes it from the subjects. The aim of this paper is to investigate over a possible definition of split ergativity in the Hittite grammar.

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Academic and Literary Communication: Addressability, Statuses, and Functioning

Abstract

The article addresses the issue of creation and functioning of each link in the communication chain addresser/sender-message-addressee/recipient in three communicative statuses: external, internal, and potential. Personal and transpersonal communication is analyzed. Semantic and functional features of academic vs literary communication are considered.

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Average Word Length from the Diachronic Perspective: The Case of Arabic

Abstract

Previous studies based on English, Russian and Ch inese corpora show that the average word length in texts grows steadily across centuries. These findings are in accordance with our results: the average word length in Arabic texts also grows during the analysed time span (8th century to the first half of the 20th century). Our paper shows the detailed statistics of the word length distribution century by century. The dynamics of the average word length correlates with the dynamics of the average word distribution entropy, which encourages an explanation of the phenomenon based on the Shannonian theory of communication.

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Conflict, Confrontation, and War Reflected in Mass Media: Semantic Wars, their Victors and Victims

Abstract

War presented in mass media as a piece of hard news has three spaces: military, economic, and informational. From a linguistic point of view, conflict has two constituents: CONFLICT-STATE and CONFLICT-ACTION. The variety of conflict is confrontation, which includes physical collision, armed opposition, verbal collision, collision of outlooks and interests. Each conflict or confrontation has a cognitive script, on which confrontational substrategies are being built.

Open access