The effect of certain contexts on the denotative meaning of some adverbs of frequency
Mostofsky, David Isaac
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The present study is concerned with a problem that is essential in the area of psycholinguistics. The linguistic aspect of the problem concerns the concept of "meaning". It is necessary to review the criteria upon which this concept is defined and applied to semiotic material in general, and to denotative adverbs in particular. Of particular interest to psychology is quantifiable representation of this concept as well as an investigation of several parameters which may affect the judgment of the meaning of a particular adverb. The meaning attributed to any denotative adverb has been generally accepted as the model or average judgment of the population concerning the denoted referent, i.e., the meaning is determined by the convention of its usage with respect to denoting a particular segment of the underlying referent dimension. It is, of course, vital to ascertain a) what this average, conventional judgment is, and b) whether the conventional meaning attributed by the pooled judgments of a group is in fact a valid index for establishing word meaning. The results of this investigation have relevant implications for any situation which requires the use of quantity adverbs as responses, and in which the total of such responses are pooled and tallied for a given group to subsequently serve as the basis for further assertions. The underlying assumption made in such situations is that a group (necessarily implying the individual subjects comprising the group) is in relative agreement on the meaning of a particular word. The present study has investigated the nature of the precision with which any particular word is used as well as establishing the nature of the discriminability among several words, each of which denotes relative frequency. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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