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Lines by Someone Else: the Pragmatics of Apprompted Poems

Description: Over the last sixty years, overtly intertextual poems with titles such as “Poem Beginning with a Line by John Ashbery” and “Poem Ending with a Line by George W. Bush” have been appearing at an increasing rate in magazines and collections. These poems wed themselves to other texts and authors in distinct ways, inviting readers to engage with poems which are, themselves, in conversation with lines from elsewhere. These poems, which I refer to as “apprompted” poems, explicitly challenge readers to investigate the intertextual conversation, and in doing so, they adopt inherent risks. My thesis will chart the various effects these poems can have for readers and the consequences they may hold for the texts from which they borrow. Literary critics such as Harold Bloom and J. H. Miller have described the act of borrowing as competitive and parasitic—“agon” is Bloom’s term for what he sees as the oedipal anxiety of poets and poets’ texts to their antecedents, but an investigation of this emerging genre in terms of linguistic pragmatics shows that apprompted poems are performing a wider range of acts in relation to their predecessors. Unlike Bloom’s theory, which interprets the impulse of poetic creation through psychoanalysis, I employ linguistic terms from Brown and Levinson’s linguistic Politeness theory to analyze apprompted poems as conversational speech events. Politeness theory provides a useful analysis of these poems by documenting the weight of threats to the positive and negative “faces” of the participants in each poetic conversation. I have documented these “face-threatening-acts” and used them to divide apprompted poems into five major speech events: satire, revision, promotion, pastiche, and ecclesiastic. Ultimately, this paper serves at the intersection of literary criticism and linguistics, as I suggest a theoretical approach to the interpretation and criticism of apprompted poems by way of linguistic pragmatics.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Gibson, Kimberly Dawn

A Man Needs a Female like a Fish Needs a Lobotomy: The Role of Adjectival Nominalization in Pejorative Meaning

Description: This thesis documents the grammatical processes and semantic impact of innovative ways to pejoratively reference individuals through adjectival nominalization. Research on nominalized adjectives suggests that when meanings shift from having one property (1) to becoming a kind with associated properties (2), the noun form often encodes stereotypical attributes: [1] "Her hair is blonde." (hair color); [2] "He married a blonde." (female, sexy, dumb). Likewise, the linguistic phenomenon of genericity refers to classes or kinds and different grammatical structures reflect properties in different ways. In 1 and 2 above, the shift from adjectival blonde to indefinite NP a blonde moves the focus from the definitional characteristic to the prototypical. Similarly, adjectival gay [3] is definitional, but the marked, nominal form [4] adds socially-based conceptions of the "average" gay (example from Twitter): [3] jesus christ i make a joke and now im a gay man? (sexuality) [constructed]; [4] jesus christ i make a joke and now im a gay? … (flamboyant, abnormal). To investigate innovative reference via nominalization, two corpus studies based in human judgment were conducted. In the first study, a subset of the corpus (N=121) was annotated for pejoration by five additional linguists following the same guidelines as the original annotator. In the second study, 800 instances were annotated by non-experts using crowd-sourcing. In both studies we find a correspondence between nominal status and pejorative meaning.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Robinson, Melissa Aubrey

The Perception and Viability of English Corner on the American Campus

Description: International students are often under considerable pressure from language barriers, culture shock, social isolation and lack of social support in American universities. Those stressors often discourage international students as ESL learners from practicing English with native students on campus. Based on Krashen & Terrell’s subconscious acquisition and conscious learning hypothesis, Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development , Cummins’ Basic Interpersonal Communication System (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), Horwitz’s language anxiety and Oxford’s indirect learning strategies , this study explores how international students and American students, respectively, perceive English Corner and whether English Corner could be an applicable out-of-class learning environment for international students to practice English and socialize with American students on American campuses. English Corner refers to regular meetings that English learners in Mainland China voluntarily organize in public places to practice spoken English. A survey was conducted on language learning strategies, socialization, acculturation, autonomy and English Corner among international students and native students at the University of North Texas. The questionnaires were adapted from Oxford and Nyikos’ study as to what variables affect choice of language learning strategies, Iheanacho’s study as to how international students use the Morris Library at the University of Delaware and their perception of library services and programs, and Battle’s study as to how information literacy instruction affects library anxiety among international students. The findings of this study may help American universities realize the importance of English Corner as one optimal intervention program for international students and American students. The support for English Corner may help international students improve their English learning, alleviate their language anxiety and create more opportunities for international students and native students to socialize with each other.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Hu, Jiaying

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs in Ki Idioms

Description: The purpose of this thesis is to examine idiomatic structures with ki in the ki-wo [transitive verb] and ki-ga [intransitive verb] constructions. It is argued that for Japanese language learners, it is crucial to be able to understand and produce ki idioms, because they are frequently used in everyday speech. There are often misconceptions regarding ki in the West for those who are fans of Japanese culture due to the influence of martial arts and anime, which paint ki as a spiritual energy that can be controlled and developed. However, upon examining the above mentioned idiomatic structures with ki, it is clear that ki can be expressed as both controllable by the subject of ki (transitive), as well as a thing that acts of its own accord and is spontaneous (intransitive). This thesis somewhat corroborates the studies of W. M. Jacobson, Zoe Pei Sui Luk , and Yoshihiko Ikegami by arguing that intransitive constructions are often used in Japanese, and examining both transitive and intransitive expressions with ki is significant to understanding the meanings produced in ki expressions. It is hoped that analyzing 37 transitive and intransitive idiomatic structures with ki will help Japanese language learners not only understand the syntactic and semantic aspects of transitivity in the Japanese language, but also to help these L2 learners conceptualize the abstract noun ki, which can be defined in so many different ways in a dictionary.
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Date: May 2018
Creator: Hoye, Nathaniel