Informativeness has been used as an explanatory concept in linguistics and other fields. I discuss previous accounts of informativeness, and propose a model for assessing a component of it, focusing on the distribution of negated and non-negated English adjectival past participles (APPs), like eaten and uneaten. An utterance is informative to the extent that it increases the cognitive availability of information not fully available via context or category membership, what one knows about an item through knowing its category. To assess the portion of informativeness related to category membership, or CM-informativeness, I propose a model that uses categories based on qualia (elements of meaning) or linguistic items, which have gradient members whose centrality represents cognitive availability. CM-informativeness relates to centrality: an utterance that associates a category base with some member of that category is more CM-informative if the member is peripheral than if it is central. The distribution of APPs is explained via the model as follows: an APP occurs more often in non-negated form if its common collocates have categories in which the APP is a peripheral member, because the negated form can then be thought of as a central member. Since an utterance associating a category base with a peripheral member is more informative than one associating it with a central member, and informativeness correlates with frequency, phrases with the non-negated APP occur more often here. Contrastingly, if an APP's common collocates are those with categories in which it is a peripheral member, the reverse occurs.This model may be generalized to a variety of linguistic forms. For some expressions the CM-informativeness that it assesses is predictive of frequency. This work enriches the conception of informativeness by developing a new characterization and a cognitive model of how one aspect of informativeness may be assessed. This is intended to elaborate on, rather than replace, previous accounts of informativeness.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2014. Major: Linguistics. Advisor:Dr. Jeanette Gundel. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 124 pages
van Ameyden van Duym, Leah Suzanne.
Informativeness, category membership, and the distribution of adjectival past participles.
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