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Variation across two dimensions: Testing the Complexity Principle and the Uniform Information Density Principle on adjectival data
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2016 (English)In: English Language and Linguistics, ISSN 1360-6743, E-ISSN 1469-4379, Vol. 20, no 3, 533-558 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study tests the applicability of the Complexity Principle (Rohdenburg 1996) and the Uniform Information Density Principle (Jaeger 2010) on adjectival data as regards the variation between retaining and omitting the complementizer that in English adjectival complementation constructions. More specifically, the study tests the effect of different factors of potential importance on this variation across extraposed (e.g. It was inevitable (that) he should be nicknamed 'the Ferret') and post-predicate clauses (e.g. I'm happy (that) we are married). While both the factors concerned with the Complexity Principle and the Uniform Information Density Principle are found to have an effect on post-predicate clauses, less clear effects are found concerning extraposed clauses. I attribute these findings to the difference between the two constructions in terms of their frequency of co-occurrence with different matrix subject types and with different adjectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 20, no 3, 533-558 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-309826DOI: 10.1017/S1360674316000344ISI: 000387499100008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-309826DiVA: diva2:1052963
Available from: 2016-12-07 Created: 2016-12-07 Last updated: 2017-01-25
In thesis
1. Adjectives complemented by that- and to-clauses: Exploring semantico-syntactic relationships and genre variation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Adjectives complemented by that- and to-clauses: Exploring semantico-syntactic relationships and genre variation
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present compilation thesis investigates adjectives complemented by that- and to-clauses. More specifically, the thesis is concerned with extraposed (e.g. it is likely that she will win and it is important to win) and post-predicate clauses (e.g. I’m sure that he’s alive and I’m glad to see you). The thesis is most fundamentally concerned with the study of linguistic variation. Thus the aim of the thesis is to explain why a certain construction is used in a given context.

The data used in the studies comes from the British National Corpus (BNC). Study I proposes a semi-automated approach to variable patterns in corpus data. The study describes the creation of a computer program which has been designed to facilitate the extraction and coding of corpus data. In Study II, extraposed and post-predicate that- and to-clauses are contrasted in terms of their variation across genres, their lexical diversity and the meanings expressed by the adjectives most frequently found in each construction. Study III tests the applicability of the Complexity Principle and the Uniform Information Density Principle on adjectival data, by examining the variation between retaining and omitting the complementizer that across extraposed and post-predicate clauses. Study IV tests whether the syntactic status of I’m sure is similar to that of I think, i.e. whether it exhibits the same signs of grammaticalization.

The results show that extraposed and post-predicate that-clauses are associated with similar meanings but differ in most other respects. Compared to post-predicate that-clauses, extraposed that-clauses are more frequent in formal genres, they are found with fewer instances of that-omission, and they are found to be more frequently represented in cognitively complex environments. Similarly, the results also show that extraposed and post-predicate to-clauses are associated with similar meanings, but differ in terms of their genre distribution. Instead, in terms of meaning, extraposed that- and to-clauses on the one hand, and post-predicate that- and to-clauses on the other, are similar to each other. The thesis highlights the importance of studying adjectival complementation in its own right, and not to treat it as subordinate to, or part of, verbal complementation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of English, 2017. 76 p.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
English
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-313799 (URN)978-91-506-2618-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-03-17, Ihresalen, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-02-24 Created: 2017-01-24 Last updated: 2017-02-24

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