24.344, Diss: Cognitive Science/ Psycholing/ Semantics: Dery: 'Scene-Salience-Driven Effects in Discourse Processing'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-344. Sun Jan 20 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.344, Diss: Cognitive Science/ Psycholing/ Semantics: Dery: 'Scene-Salience-Driven Effects in Discourse Processing'

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Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2013 16:00:02
From: Jeruen Dery [jeruen.dery at gmail.com]
Subject: Scene-Salience-Driven Effects in Discourse Processing

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Institution: University at Buffalo 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2012 

Author: Jeruen E Dery

Dissertation Title: Scene-Salience-Driven Effects in Discourse Processing 

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Dissertation Director(s):
Gail Mauner
Jean-Pierre Koenig
David Zubin
Douglas Roland

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation provides a coherence-driven psycholinguistic model of 
discourse production and comprehension. From the perspective of 
production, I examine several factors that narrators rely on to produce 
coherent discourse. These factors, which I call scene salience, are 
tested in a series of discourse production experiments. These 
experiments reveal how differences in scene salience influence what 
narrators decide to mention next during narrative production. Two 
dimensions of scene salience are tested: expected temporariness in 
states and event complexity. My production experiments additionally 
show that patterns of temporal update observed in discourse are side-
effects of deeper discourse-level processes, contrary to what most 
theories of temporal interpretation assume.

>From a comprehension perspective, I examine how scene salience 
affects processes of integration in narrative comprehension. The 
experimental results support a more active view of discourse 
comprehension than what is commonly assumed. My experiments 
support the view that in constructing a mental representation of the 
unfolding narrative, readers activate prior knowledge associated with 
the situation being described, and generate expectations about how 
the narrative will unfold. Readers generate expectations about 1) what 
may happen next, and 2) when it may happen. I also explore the 
relationship between scene salience and prior knowledge, as well as 
their effects on discourse integration.

Overall, this dissertation integrates psycholinguistic research on 
discourse processing with the coherence-based approach taken in 
artificial intelligence and formal semantics. The scene-salience-driven 
model of discourse production and comprehension that I introduce here 
provides a way of explaining how narrators make sure the narratives 
they produce are felicitous and not random, as well as how 
comprehenders construct and update their mental representations of 
the unfolding narrative.

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