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Lecture Summary (01/25/2007)

Our last real meeting had the topic "Interdisciplinary aspects: Text Technology".

Mr Gibbon presented again his slides on the advantages of a portfolio and the reasons for us to create one as well as the slides about websites, hypertexts, texts and properties of a text (see summary of the very first session).

The new aspects of this lecture were text objects and document objects. First we looked at the parts of text structure: the front matter (title, subtitle, author, version) and the text body which is divided in sections which are divided in heading and text. We started the topic of text objects with characters. They have properties like font, size, colour, etc. The properties of a paragraph are the upper, lower, left and right margins. A paragraph can be a text body, a headline (with different levels of sub-headings), a list or a table. Other text objects are of course figures.

Then Mr Gibbon concentrated on paragraph styles and showed us the differences between the unprofessional and the professional method.

The last part of the session was abput document objects. Concerning documents themselves the respective objects are the filename, the author and the version. In the case of pages size, margin, header and footer are of importance.

From my point of view the repitition of the whole portfolio stuff was unnecessary because we all have the respective slides on our computer at home and even if someone might learn something new from this repitition or might understand something better than before it would be a little late to turn this new knowledge into reality.

1.2.07 22:34

Lecture Summary (01/18/2007)

This week's topic was called "Semantics: interpreting signs".

The starting aspect was (as many times before) the model of the conceptual and the real world. But this time we did not focus on the signs and their respective positions in these worlds but to the different worlds themselves. The conceptual world is an abstract/cognitive/mental domain whereas the real world is the actual domain of behaviour and interaction by particular people at a given time and place. Mr Gibbon also told us that the famous linguist Chomsky has named two different aspects in this respect: on the one hand the competence meaning the implicit knowledge of a language and on the other hand the perfomrance which stands for the actual use of a language in concrete situations. We came to the conclusion that the conceptual world contains the knowledge of a language. Mr Gibbon pointed out the importance of knowing the difference between knowledge of a language (implicit knowledge/competence which everybody has) and knowledge about a language (explicit, metalinguistic knowledge which linguists have).

We moved on to the concept of sense and reference. In fact the term "meaning" has two meanings: a general aspect (sense) and a concrete aspect (reference). For example the person George W. Bush is the reference which can be associated with several senses like "president of the United States", "son of George Bush, Senior" or "best friend of the oil companies".

Then we looked at the different semantic sign types defined by C.S. Pierce:

  • Index: sign with a physical proximity with its meaning; e.g. smoke as an index for fire
  • Icon: sign with a relationship of similarity with its meaning (visual similarity or acoustic similarity); e.g. cock-a-doodle-doo, outch, crash
  • Symbol: sign with an arbitrary relationship with its meaning; e.g. table, chair, book

As a task in this respect we had to analyse several traffic signs in the following time and categorise them as indexes, icons or symbols.

Further Mr Gibbon told us something about the difference between descriptive and subjective meanings. Descriptive meanings give an objective view on the properties of persons, places, things, etc. Subjective meanings are about the attitudes of the speaker and hearer on a certain topic.

The next topic was lexical semantics. Semantic components are either property components or relation components. Then Mr Gibbon listed up the different types of semantic relations:

  • taxonomy: generalisation-specialisation relation (hyponym > hyperonym)
  • meronomy: part-whole relation
  • synonyms
  • antonyms: opposite, complementary, inverse
  • co-hyponym

Finally we dealt with quantifiers and conjunctions. Mr Gibbon presented a text to each aspect and we had to find all quantifiers respective conjunctions in the text.

1.2.07 21:15

Lecture Summary (01/11/2006)

The headline of the session was "The Structure of Language".

At the beginning Mr Gibbon repeated last week's slides about paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations (see previous summary). As further information we learned that syllables consist of an onset, a nucleus and a coda. Nucleus and coda form the rhyme.

After that we dealt with the different ranks in the sign hierarchy (from complex on top to simple at the bottom):

  • dialogue
  • text
  • sentence
  • word
  • morpheme
  • phoneme

Mr Gibbon illustrated text structure using several examples like a recipe or a screenshot of the CNN homepage (in this case texts appeared as text parts).

Due to the fact that I am also a member of the "How to Make a Dictionary" class this session was completely repitition for me. This leads to the fact that I did not really learn new things but it was a good way of getting more familiar with the topic.

1.2.07 20:40

Lecture Summary (12/21/2006)

The topic of this week was "Syntax (parts of speech categories & subcategories)". This topic is basically about structural relations (syntagmatic relations and paradigmatic relations) and sentence structure (syntactic categories: parts of speech, subcategories, phrasal categories).

The structure of language was the first aspect to deal with. It is determined by two kinds of constitutive relation:

  • structural relations: including syntagmatic relations as well as paradigmatic relations
  • semiotic relations: including realisation and interpretation

Further we took a closer look at paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations. Paradigmatic relations can be called relations of "choice". They are about similarities and differences of internal structure (simple stems vs. complex stems), external structure (functions in different word orders), meaning (synonymy, antonomy, hyponymy, etc.) and appearance (distinctive features). To point out that syntagmatic relations are combinatory relations Mr Gibbon called them "linguistic glue". They create larger signs from smaller signs. For example in phonology consonants and vowels form syllables.

Afterwards Mr Gibbon presented the syntactic categories which can be divided in lexical categories and glue categories. The lexical categories are nominals (nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners) and verbals (main verbs and auxiliary verbs). The glue categories contain prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.

Then we dealt in more detail with the different parts of speech.

First of all the noun categories, starting with determiners. The branches of determiners are articles, possesives, demonstratives, relatives/interrogatives and quantifiers. Adjectives can be scalar, polar, appraisive and ordinal. The special feature of scalar adjectives is that they can be modified by "adverbs" of degree like "very" or "extremely". There are basically two types of nouns: proper nouns (names of persons, products, places, etc.) and common nouns which are either countable or uncountable. The next category was pronouns. It contains personal pronouns, possesive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, quantifier pronouns and relative pronouns (which are in fact more like conjunctions).

We moved on to the verb categories. The first part of speech to be considered in this respect is of course the verb itself. A verb is either a main verb (with finite and non-finite forms) or a periphrastic verb (auxiliary verb + non-finite main verb). The different kinds of periphrastic verbs are modal, aspectual or passive. The second verb category is formed by the adverbs. In this context we have to consider five types of adverbs: adverbs of time, adverbs of place and direction, adverbs of manner, adverbs of degree and deictic adverbs.

Last but not least we analysed the glue categories. The basic function of prepositions is to turn nominal expressions into adverbial expressions. The have almost the same categories as adverbs. The exception is the word "of" which is multi-functional phenomenon. The second glue category, namely conjunctions, consists of co-ordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. Interjections are words like "hi" or "wow". They link parts of a dialogue together but the can also be (as in the case of "wow" ) an expression of subjective reactions.

31.1.07 22:18

Lecture Summary (12/14/2006)

The heading of this class was again "Phonetics: realising sounds". After dealing with articulatory phonetics in the previous meeting this week's session was about acoustic and auditory phonetics.

We entered the field of acoustic phonetics with the source-filter-model. It starts with the sources larynx (resonant source) and constrictions (noise sources). After that the sound goes through various filters. First in line is the pharyngeal filter followed by the oral and nasal filter (the sound from the noise sources also goes directly to the oral filter).

Mr Gibbon then told us about the speech waveform which shows the amplitude. He used the text "a tiger and a mouse were walking in a field..." for the purpose of illustrating this concept. For the next step, the spectral transform, he only used the word "tiger".

Afterwards we spent a lot of time with the phonetics software "Praat". Mr Gibbon tried to explain the programme and showed us the different windows of Praat, the objects and methods, how to edit a waveform, how to select a segment of a waveform, the different properties of sounds (spectogramme, formants, pitch track), how to copy the segment, how to create a new waveform object and how to save it.

To get started with auditory phonetics we looked at the anatomy of the human ear. We devided it in three main parts: the outer ear (function: microphone), the middle ear (function: amplifier) and the inner ear (function: spectral transform).

31.1.07 21:40

Lecture Summary (12/07/2006)

The topic of this session was "Phonetics: realising sounds".

First of all Mr Gibbon presented once more his famous model of signs and their position and relations in the conceptual and the real world. He told us that phonology is part of the conceptual world whereas phonetics deals with the utterances themselves and by consequence is part of the real world.

After that we looked at the different aspects of speech: production, transmission and perception. This led to the different domains of phonetics: articulatory phonetics (production), acoustic phonetics (transmission) and auditory phonetics (reception). The three domains of phonetics are also called phonetic cycle.

Mr Gibbon started of course with the articulatory branch. He showed us some pictures displaying the midsaggal section of the head. The articulatory organs are the lungs and the vocal chords in the larynx. Another very important aspect are the articulatory positions: uvula (with back of tongue), pharynx (with velum (nasals)), velum (soft palate) (contact with tongue: velars), palate (hard palate) (with tongue), alveolar ridge, upper teeth (with tongue; with lower lip) and upper lip (with lower lip). In this context we took a closer look at the midsaggital section and the saggital section.

Then we dealt with the description of sounds which contains of two levels. On the one hand there is the general pronunciation representation in the lexicon. The phonemic transcription gives just enough detail to distinguish words. On the other hand if you need detailed representation of speech pronunciation you have to use phonetic transcription based on articulatory phonetics.


31.1.07 20:40

Lecture Summary (11/30/2006)

In this session Mr Gibbon was back to talk about morphology.

We were told that English words consist of a stem plus an inflection. On the one hand a stem carries lexical meaning, on the other hand an inflection has grammatical meaning and relates a word to its syntactic and semantic contexts.

Further we took a closer look at inflexions. In the English language suffixes or stem vowel changes are used to adapt a word to person, number or case. Other languages contain prefixes (e.g. many African languages), circumfixes (e.g. German) or superfixes.

Basically there are two kinds of stems to be considered: the simple and the complex variant. The simple one means that the stem is just a root (lexical morpheme). The complex version has three main forms: derivations (a stem plus a derivational affix; e.g. beauty + ful = beautiful), compounds (a stem plus another stem; e.g. foot + ball = football) or both. These constructs are called synthetic compounds (a derivation plus a stem; e.g. steam(stem) + roller (derivation) = steam-roller).

In the course of the session Mr Gibbon introduced the three different kinds of compounds to us:

  • endocentric compound: consists of a head which carries the biggest part of the semantic meaning and determines the grammatical category of the compound plus a specifying word; e.g. armchair (chair is the head and arm the specifier)
  • bicentric compound: there is no head, both parts are equal; e.g. whisky-soda
  • exocentric compound (also called bahuvrihi): refers to something that is not specified by any of its parts by themselves; e.g. redskin (the term does not refer to a red skin but to an Indian)

Mr Gibbon explained that roots and affixes are morphemes. Morphemes are defined as the smallest meaningful parts of words. They can be divided in two main types. Lexical morphemes (content morphemes, roots) are an open set including free words like boy, girl, man, etc. Grammatical morphemes (structural morphemes) are a closed set and either free (prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs) or bound (affixes in word formation and inflection).

Finally we talked about allomorphs. Allomorphs means that one morpheme is realized in different variants. As an example we chose the plural morpheme of nouns. In this case the same morpheme can be realized for example with an -s (e.g. dog -> dogs) or -en (ox -> oxen) or a stem vowel change (man -> men).

31.1.07 19:20

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