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Abstract Ideas: The Relation of Linguistic Time and Psychological Time USPHS

Hurtig, Richard R.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Columbia University, United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Language Processing, Linguistic Theory, Psycholinguistics, Time


In the first section a sketch of a tense logic is presented and a mechanism is suggested for including aspects of the tense logic into the Grammar (theory of language). Specifically, several grammatical structures are known to incorporate temporal features. A semantic projector mechanism is utilized to amalgamate the temporal features in elements of the auxiliary, conjunctions, adverbials and, in addition, the inherent temporal features of norms and verbs to yield an overall reading of temporal specification. The second section examines the psychological validity of a tense logic model. Two alternative hypotheses are considered to account for the encoding of structures of temporal specification. The first is a derivational theory of complexity of the sort proposed in recent psycholinguistics. The other is a theory based on the structure of the tense logic model. It would appear that subjects are sensitive to the temporal information in conjunctions as well as the information expressed by the elements of the verabl auxiliary. This supports the hypothesis that overall temporal specification is derived by amalgamation (projection) of temporal features or properties of various linguisitc structures, and that the encoded representation can be conceived of as a complex "event space" in which the temporal relations among all the events in an utterance or discourse are specified. (Author/ANH) (62pp.)

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