When in context

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Title: When in context
Author: Nakayama, Makiko, 1972-
Abstract: This dissertation explores a family of temporal meanings pertaining to when, as it appears in When the results were negligible, Galdwin asked why; when she was 50, she left him; and Lowe took a 3-1 lead into the 5th when he finally surrendered his first home run of the season. A widely-accepted view is that when used this way functions as a generalpurpose temporal connective, with underspecified semantics reminiscent to after, during or before, which vary depending on the surrounding context. I propose a heavy revision of this particular claim; surrounding contexts do not by themselves determine the temporal interpretation of when, but they function to strengthen the basic meaning already imposed by grammatical features and lexical constraints. The present system provides accounts for several empirical problems related to corpus-based examples which are inconsistent with previous approaches to the semantics of when. A further characteristic of the present study is its cross-linguistic nature. I extend the analysis of when to toki(-ni), the Japanese counterpart to when. Comparing English and Japanese, I argue that the two languages share the fundamental semantic system but employ different sets of triggering factors for the strengthening process. Supporting evidence for my arguments comes from two manuallyculled newstext corpora prepared for this study. Chapter 1 gives an introduction to the phenomena and issues of interest. I address three distinct temporal relations holding between the when- and main clause events. Forward-sequence entails that the when- clause event occurs earlier than the main, as in when the results were negligible, Galdwin asked why. Overlap consists of two clauses that denote overlapping events, as in when she was 50, she left him. Backward-sequence entails that the when- clause event takes place after the main clause event, as in Lowe took a 3-1 lead into the fifth when he finally surrendered his first home run of the season. Discussions in later chapters assume some familiarity to temporal and discourse semantics literature. Chapter 2 has been devoted to providing such background information, including an introduction to Discourse Representation Theory (Kamp and Reyle (1993)) and Two-Component Aspect Theory (Smith (1993, 1997)). For visual presentation of my ideas, I adopt Blackburn & Bos’ (2000) DRS-building scheme. In Chapter 3 I sketch previous analyses on when- sentences and address their empirical problems. I discuss two streams of approaches. Under one view, when commits to placing two eventualities temporally close to each other, without fixing their relative order (Heinëmäki (1978), Ritchie (1979) and Hinrichs (1986)). An implication of this type of proposal is that whenever a when appears, there is little restriction as to which one of the temporal meanings is chosen. Thus, for these authors when is a general-purpose temporal adverbial used without a specific temporal meaning built into it. Alternatively, scholars such as Moens and Steedman (1989) and Sändström (1993) argue that when does not order events temporally; it only adds an implication concerning event consequentiality, namely that the main clause event is a consequence of the when clause event. A major problem common to both approaches is empirical. The former entails that when is vague as to its temporal implications, when in actuality a given when sentence is usually associated with only one of the temporal meanings. The latter approach, on the other hand, is misleading in giving the impression that all when sentences bear a consequential relation: corpus examples in the present study reveal that it is not true. Chapter 4 presents English corpus data collected for this study and an analysis of when- sentences that avoids the problems surrounding the previous approaches, with emphasis on the claim that pragmatic information is fully responsible for rendering the temporal meanings associated with when. I examine this proposal critically and arrive at a hybrid system where grammatical and pragmatic or extra-linguistic informational contents work in tandem. I also discuss DRT construction rules for when and demonstrate my system for some key examples drawn from the corpus. Chapter 5 turns to a cross-linguistic consideration, focusing on Japanese. After reviewing the literature on Japanese toki-ni (“when” lit. time-at) sentences, such as that authored by Yoshimoto and Mori (2003), I discuss Japanese corpus data and argue for one salient difference between the systems in the two languages: the strengthening processes in English tend to allude to pragmatic and extra-linguistic information while those in Japanese are more directly affected by grammatical factors such as tense marking variations and particle-drop. Chapter 6 concludes the study. I mention some remaining issues, for the purpose of suggesting some future avenues of research which the achievement of this study opens up. Two appendices are included at the end of this dissertation. One explains technical details regarding the corpora used in this study. The other is a summary of miscellaneous numerical results I have obtained while I worked on the project.
Department: Linguistics
Subject: When (The English word) English language--Context English language--Temporal constructions Toki (The Japanese word) English language--Grammar, Comparative--Japanese Japanese language--Grammar, Comparative--English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/17867
Date: 2008-08

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