Influence of Predicative Components Valence on Intrapositional Programming of Subordinate Speech Utterance

Research article
DOI:
https://doi.org/10.23670/IRJ.2023.137.44
Issue: № 11 (137), 2023
Suggested:
23.08.2023
Accepted:
14.11.2023
Published:
17.11.2023
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Abstract

The article is devoted to the issue of designing a psycholinguistic model of a speech utterance with subordination. The concept presented in the paper makes it possible to identify the role of predicative components in the parameterization of the formal-semantic configuration of the positional structure of a speech utterance with subordination. The active valence properties of predicative components are analyzed, which determine the participants of a complex event based on the compatibility or incompatibility of their semantic properties with their meaning and positional plan. The method of psycholinguistic experiment is used in the work, which allows to model combinatorial-syntactic processes reflecting the probabilistic relationship of factors of objective reality, speech-thinking operations, prescriptive rules.

1. Introduction

The research, that has been conducted for more than two centuries on the semantic and structural organization of speech utterances with subordination, brings us to the realization of the fact that, like any form, the structure of subordination is filled with the certain content. Therefore, the main task of linguistic analysis is the two-way correction of data on meaning and form. However, the solution of such complex grammatical issues as syntactic ways of representing the events of objective reality and architecture reflected by the consciousness of the linguistic personality, the relations developing between them, as well as the methodology of their analysis remains open for the time being. The current ‘state of affairs’ is a consequence of the well-established notion in traditional linguistics of the opposition of semantic-functional syntax and psycholinguistic grammar. Meanwhile, the appeal to the study of the structure of subordination from the standpoint of the speech activity of a linguistic personality allows us to establish the fundamental motivation of its hypostatic aspects (here we mean qualitative and quantitative, relational-nominative, actualizing aspects), structure-forming factors, and limitations of their system-relevant characteristics, as well as their functional interaction.

With the consideration in mind, the relevance of our experimental research is determined by the need for information that allows not only to increase the accuracy and realism of the scenario of structuring subordinate relations at the syntax level of a complex sentence, but also to identify the entire system of semantic relations fixed in a complex sentence.

The purpose of this study is to create a psycholinguistic model of speech utterance with subordination. The model will allow us to present a speech utterance with subordination in the form of a complex speech block formed as a result of the interaction of level measurements of predicative components, their morphology and adaptation to the conditions of the text.

This purpose involves solving the following tasks:

1) to establish the psycholinguistic regularities of the operational support of the process of language coding of a speech utterance, with subordination in qualitative and quantitative aspects;

2) to clarify the relationship of the predicative components of a speech utterance with subordination and their environment, represented by syntactic actants, in terms of functional interaction.

2. Research methods and principles

During the study, the method of psycholinguistic experiment was used. The appeal to this method is due to the following factors. Firstly, psycholinguistic grammar, having functional integrity and composition, makes it possible to model certain combinatorial-syntactic processes (including subordinate relations), reflecting the probable relationship of objective reality factors (time, space, environmental imperatives), speech-thinking operations, prescriptive rules

,
,
,
. Secondly, according to A.A. Leont’iev, the nature of the psycholinguistic experiment is such that the object of this experiment is always «either language knowledge (linguistic ability, linguistic competence), or certain operations focused on the production of speech, its perception, or related to reflection on the speech activity itself and its components»
.

The experimental study was conducted by the authors in the period from 2020 to 2022. The experiment was attended by cadets of the Military Training and Research Center of the Air Force «Air Force Academy» named after N.E. Zhukovsky and Y.A. Gagarin (Voronezh) aged from 17 to 24 years, studying German as the second foreign language after studying English. The latter circumstance is of great importance for the study, since it is assumed that in the process of learning foreign languages, the subjects have accumulated sufficient linguistic experience in analyzing the semantic-structural organization and functioning of a speech utterance. In addition, certain manifestations of the interfering effect of the subjects’ native language on the foreign language, examinees are studying, allows us to establish the degree of interaction of language systems. The interaction of language systems is based on the following pragmatic syntactic stereotypes:

1) perception of lexical and grammatical units of ‘not native’ (German) language, allowing to create a generalized idea of their semantics and functions and to compare it with knowledge of the semantics and functions of the corresponding units of ‘native’ (Russian) language;

2) fixing lexical and grammatical characteristics of ‘not their’ (German) language, which have no analogues in ‘native’ (Russian) language;

3) the allocation of lexical and grammatical characteristics of units of ‘not native’ (German) language, excluding their use in a particular communication situation (as opposed to units of ‘native’ (Russian) language in a similar communication situation).

So, 128 questionnaires have been analyzed.

The examples of speech practice from works of fiction and colloquial speech of the last 50 years were used as language material in this experimental work.

3. Main results

The initial theoretical position of the study was the epistemological attitude that in the process of intra-positional programming (qualitative aspect) the components of a speech utterance are selected with subordination and the interpretation of semantic-syntactic relations that develop between non-anthropological ontological events combining according to prescriptive rules of the hierarchy of influences. At the same time, predicative components play a leading role in parameterizing the formal-semantic configuration of the positional structure of a verbal utterance with subordination. Differing in active valence properties, predicative components determine the participants of the non-anthropological ontological events on the basis of compatibility or, conversely, incompatibility of the semantic properties of the latter with their meaning and positional plan and correlate them through the act of predication with objective reality

,
,
. The content of the predicative act of thinking finds its systemic expression in the predicative categories of personality, aspectuality, temporality, objective modality. Being an integral part of the internal program of a speech utterance, predication is transmitted in one or another linguistic way: by the end of a verbal word form, by a bundle (including its zero form).

The environment of the predicative component is formed by indivisible semantic-syntactic units, the signifiers of which are syntactic actants. In the process of interpreting what it reflects by extra-anthropological ontological events the linguistic personality assigns certain semantic functions to syntactic actants, and the characteristic components are endowed with categorical prerequisites for the actualization of each of the actants. Here it is necessary to express one reservation, which is that valence as a lexical and syntactic property of a feature component allows the possibility of establishing relationships not only between different parts of speech, but also between different structural environments. Hence, syntactic actants can represent both individual words and a variety of complex lexical constructions that have a significant impact on the positional structure of a speech utterance

,
,
.

To test the theory, which had been put forward, a hypothesis was formulated according to which the active valence of the predicative components of the main part of a speech utterance from the point of view of the hierarchy of influences determines its intra-positional programming.

The procedure of experimental testing of the hypothesis consisted of filling out the questionnaire forms by the examinees. The questionnaire form contained 3 Instructions:

1. You should synthesize speech utterances with subordination based on the description of their positional structure given in the questionnaire form. You should follow the algorithm in the process of executing the instructions:

Table 1 - Sirconstant Speech Utterances With Subordination

Step 1

selection of the predicative component of the main part

Step 2

selection of the predicative component of the subordinate part

Step 3

selection of the subject of the main part → matching the subject and the predicative component in person and number

Step 4

selection of the subject of the subordinate part → coordination of the subject and the predicative component in person and number

Step 5

choosing the means of communication

Step 6

choosing the location of the parts of a speech utterance: the subordinate part is in pre- or postposition

Step 7

selection of actors – participants in the action of the main /subordinate part (object, if available in the positional structure of the sentence)

2. You should determine the type of semantic-syntactic relations expressed by speech utterances from Instruction 1 (temporal, spatial, causal, conditional, target-oriented, etc.).

3. You should briefly describe the lexical and grammatical difficulties that you encountered when executing Instructions 1, 2.

The tasks of the instructions were developed according to a direct methodology for assessing the level of proficiency in language means, which includes the restoration of partially degrammatized syntactic constructions. The essence of the technique consists in the deliberate distortion of a speech utterance and its subsequent presentation to the subjects for restoration. At the same time, the degrammaticalization should be partial, i.e. the components of a speech utterance should retain grammatical features characteristic of the part of speech to which they relate

.

The described technique makes it possible to get an idea of the degree of formation of cognitive orientation models in the system of semantic and syntactic connections in the process of generating a speech utterance with subordination.

The following types of positional structure of a speech utterance with subordination were subject to partial degrammaticalization.

Table 2 - Sirconstant speech utterances with subordination with a neutral order of subordinate components

Main Part (preposition)

Subordinate Part (postposition)

subject

predicative component

union means

subject

predicative component

personal pronoun

(with indication of gender, person and number)

proper name

 

noun (with indication of gender, case and number)

the tense form of the verb

the actual time meaning

(indicating simultaneity, following, preceding actions)

 

long-time meaning

(indicating a limited/unlimited duration)

 

spatial meaning

(indicating the starting/ending point of the subject’s movement, its localization, linear movement)

personal pronoun

(with indication of person and number)

 

proper name

 

noun

(with indication of gender, case and number)

the tense form of the verb

das Verb im Infinitiv, das Personalpronomen/der Eigennamen/das Substantiv, die Subjunktoren, das Personalpronomen/der Eigennamen/das Substantiv, das Verb im Infinitiv

Table 3 - Sirconstant speech utterances with subordination with the inverse order of subordinate components

Subordinate Part (preposition)

Main Part (postposition)

subject

predicative component

union means

subject

predicative component

personal pronoun

(with indication of gender, person and number)

 

proper name

 

noun (indicating gender, case and number)

the tense form of the verb

the actual time meaning

(indicating simultaneity, following, preceding actions)

 

long-time meaning

(indicating a limited/unlimited duration)

 

spatial meaning

(indicating the starting/ending point of the subject’s movement, its localization, linear movement)

personal pronoun

(with indication of person and number)

 

proper name

 

noun

(with indication of gender, case and number)

the tense form of the verb

das Personalpronomen/der Eigennamen/das Substantiv, das Verb im Infinitiv, die Subjunktoren, das Personalpronomen/der Eigennamen/das Substantiv, das Verb im Infinitiv

From the point of view of the quality and quantity of stimulus components, the given samples of positional structures seem to be sufficient to test the hypothesis formulated above.

Analysis of the questionnaire forms showed that 97% of the examinees coped with the instructions in full. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that before synthesizing a speech utterance based on the description of the positional structure given in the questionnaire form the examinees restored the ‘overall picture’. It means that they determined which laws of objective reality could determine the connection between the two non-anthropological ontological events, established a determinant event, and found out the direction of the hierarchy of influences.

So, in 60% of the questionnaire forms, the subjects drew a graphic image of the semantic-syntactic relations that develop between the components of a speech utterance:

↑̅  ̅ ̅ ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅ WOHIN?    ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅ ↓

[ beobachten ] main part , wohin [ gehen ] subordinate part – spatial relations;

↓  ̅ ̅ ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  WANN?   ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅  ̅ ↑̅

[ vernehmen ] subordinate part , als [aufstehen ] main part – temporary relations.

Such graphic images in a concentrated form reflect the configuration of the examinees’ knowledge about the subordinate relationship of the two non-anthropological ontological events.

In 37% of the questionnaire forms, the examinees adhered to the algorithm given in Instruction 1. The answers looked like this:

Table 4 - Sirconstant Speech Utterances With Subordination

Step 1

selection of the predicative component of the main part:

beobachten/aufstehen

Step 2

selection of the predicative component of the subordinate part:

gehen/vernehmen

Step 3

selection of the subject of the main part → matching the subject and the predicative component in person and number:

er/sie

Step 4

selection of the subject of the subordinate part → coordination of the subject and the predicative component in person and number:

das Mädchen/sie

Step 5

selection of means of communication:

wohin/als

Step 6

choosing the location of the parts of the speech utterance: the subordinate part is in the pre- or postposition:

the subordinate in the postposition / subordinate in the preposition

Step 7

selection of actors – participants in the action of the main/subordinate part (object, if available in the positional structure of the sentence):

-/Schritte

Here it should be noted that the examinees did not coordinate the subject and the predicative component in person and number, as it was indicated in the algorithm. This circumstance is explained by the concentration of the examinees’ attention on the restoration of the ‘general picture’ of synthesized speech utterances, taking into account their linguistic ideas about the subordinate relationship of the two non-anthropological ontological events.

Thus, the experimental conditions allowed us to trace the dynamics of the unfolding of thought, which, according to L.S. Vygotsky’s observations, is characterized by two-sidedness. Firstly, «every thought strives to connect something with something, in one word it performs some function, work, solves some task». Secondly, the linguistic personality sees all this in one act of thought: «Thought is something whole… What is contained in thought simultaneously is developed successively in speech»

.

After restoring the ‘general picture’ of the speech utterance, the examinees were determined with the predicative component of its main part according to the hierarchy of influences. It is well-known that the predicative component has two general valence positions: a combination with syntactic actants (subject, object, addressee, localizer) and sirconstants (temporal and spatial locatives, causatives, etc.), which can be represented both in a collapsed form (a separate word form) and in an expanded form, i.e. with components all predicative categories

,
. The general valence positions of the predicative component of the main part – temporal and spatial locatives – are represented in an expanded form in the speech utterances, given in the questionnaire forms.

In the process of analyzing the metalanguage comments made by the examinees during the execution of the instruction, it was found that in the created experimental situation, the examinees organized the components of the speech utterance not so much based on the grammatical properties of the predicative component of the main part, as based on its lexical meaning. For example, in a speech utterance (corresponds to a sample of the positional structure of a speech utterance with subordination of the first type) Er beobachtete, wohin das Mädchen ging (He watched where the girl went) the predicative component of the main part of beobachten has the lexical meaning of directed perception, which determines the following structure of the fixed non-anthropological ontological events: the subject of perception – the object of perception – the spatial perspective of perception. At the surface level, this structure is explicated by subject, object and locative semantic valences. The subjective semantic valence of beobachten corresponds to the syntactic actant of the subject of the main part, expressed by the personal pronoun of the 3rd person masculine singular er. The object semantic valence of beobachten corresponds to the syntactic actant of the subject of the subordinate part, expressed by an animate noun of the neuter gender in the nominative singular das Mädchen. The locative semantic valence of beobachten corresponds to the spatial locative expressed by the subordinate part with the allied word wohin, which has the meaning of directive movement. At the same time, the locative semantic valence absorbs the object one.

In a speech utterance (corresponds to a sample of the positional structure of a speech utterance with subordination of the second type) Als sie endlich Schritte vernahm, stand sie auf (When she finally heard footsteps, she got up) the predicative component of the main part of aufstehen represents the relations of intentional causation

,
. Relations of intentional causation presuppose the presence of two interacting subjects, one of which influences the other in order to perform a certain action by the latter, the other as a result of the influence exerted on him performs a certain action. Thus, the semantics of the predicative component of aufstehen determines the specifics of the mutual connection of two non-anthropological ontological events. At a given moment in time, an event occurs that causates the intentional action of the subject to change the position of the body. At the level of the positional structure of a speech utterance, the relationship is explicated by the following syntactic actants: causer (otherwise, initiator or indirect performer of the action) – causable object – temporal locative. The causer aufstehen is expressed by the 3rd person feminine singular personal pronoun sie. At the same time, in the subordinate part of the analyzed speech utterance, the pronoun sie performs the functions of the initiator, and in the main part – the indirect performer of the action. The causable object has not received an explicit expression in the positional structure of the utterance. It is presented as a deep object aufstehen which means ‘to causate your body to take a certain position’. The temporal locative is expressed by a subordinate part with the conjunction als, indicating the time of causation aufstehen.

The leading distinguishing feature of the positional structure of a speech utterance with subordination (quantitative aspect) is the nature of the syntactic union of two (and only two!) non-anthropological ontological events. The relations between the non-anthropological ontological events in the analyzed speech utterances are predetermined by the prescriptive rules of the hierarchy of influences. The hierarchy of influences is based on the unity of the singular/internal and multiple/external, real/concrete and ideal/abstract, and fixes the dynamic functional connectivity of the non-anthropological ontological events. At the same time, the essence of one event is revealed through dependence on the specifics of the manifestation of another event, reflecting the laws of objective reality at a given time. Thus, in complexly subordinated circonstant sentences of spatial/temporal semantics, the change of spatial/temporal reference point is exclusively grammatical in nature. ‘Physically’ (i.e. from the point of view of meaning), the orientation situation remains the same. This can be shown in the following example. Let us suppose, that we have two non-anthropological ontological events. Es dunkelte – It was getting dark and Ich kam nach Berlin – I came to Berlin. A twofold design of their time ratio is acceptable:

Als es dunkelte, (zu der Zeit) kam ich nach Berlin – When it was getting dark, (at that time) I arrived to Berlin and Es dunkelte, als (zu der Zeit) ich nach Berlin kam – It was getting dark when (at that time) I arrived to Berlin.

The grammatical representation of the data ratio of the non-anthropological ontological events has changed, and the orientation character of the non-anthropological ontological events ‘Es dunkelte’ has been preserved.

On the contrary, when another event becomes a reference point Als ich nach Berlin kam, (zu der Zeit) dunkelte es – When I arrived in Berlin, (at that time) it was getting dark, the meaning changes dramatically and, therefore, such phenomena have nothing to do with the grammatical issues we are discussing.

As for multicomponent complex sentences, in which two or more subordinate parts depend on the same part (main or subordinate), then, following G.A. Volokhina and Z.D. Popova, we consider them as a microtext – a unit of the textual level formed in the process of text generation. As the research conducted by linguists shows, multicomponent complex sentences are heterogeneous and of different types. Among them, there are fairly well-organized syntactic constructions that can be defined as complex sentences. But there are also constructions without a clear organization that easily break up into autonomous components, which are either paratactic linear sequences that develop a narrative, or hypotactic representations of thoughts branching in different directions, by association coming to the head of a linguistic personality in the process of generating multicomponent complex sentences

. Compare:

Ich saß an einem der kleinen Tische, die das Café Florian weit auf den Platz hinausstellt, und als nach Schluß des Konzertes die Menge, die bis dahin in dichten Strömen hin und wieder gewogt war, sich zu zerstreuen begann, nahm der Unbekannte, auf abwesende Art lächelnd wie stets, an einem neben mir frei gewordenen Tische Platz (Mann 1955, p. 480) – I was sitting at one of the small tables that the Florian cafe set up far into the square, when, after the end of the concert, the crowd, which had been pouring in dense streams up to that moment, began to dissolve, an unknown man, smiling absently as always, took a seat at the vacant table next to me;

Sie gehen das Obergeschoß ab, den Nachgeschmack von Streitereien im Mund, flüchtig und ohne viel zu reden, was sie voreinander mit dem Hinweis rechtfertigen, sie seien hungrig geworden (Geiger 2007, p. 12) – They climb up with the aftertaste of a quarrel in their mouths, muttering on the move, which they justified by hunger.

Taking into account the above circumstances, we did not include multicomponent complex sentences in the analysis of the language material, since they do not relate to the object of our research.

During the execution of Instructions 1, 2, the examinees encountered the following lexical and grammatical difficulties:

Table 5 - The Reactions Of The Examinees To Lexical And Grammatical Difficulties In The Synthesis Of Speech Utterances With Subordination

Reaction

Number Of Received Reactions

word order in the subordinate part

67 reactions

separable verb prefixes

35 reactions

orientation character of the subordinate/main part

26 reactions

The analysis of the reactions of the examinees shows that in the process of synthesizing speech utterances with subordination, the order of words in the subordinate part caused the greatest difficulties for the examinees. In the German language the subordinate part is constructed according to a terminal topological scheme in which the conjugated part of the predicative component occupies the final position. Here we are dealing with the manifestation of interference from both the examinees’ native language and the English language. The examinees record lexical and grammatical characteristics of the German language that have no analogues in the Russian and English languages.

When using verbs with separable prefixes as predicative components, the examinees allowed violations of the word order. As a rule, the separated prefix occupied a position in the middle of the main/subordinate part of the speech utterance, and not in the end. In rare cases, the examinees ignored the separable prefixes. In this case, we are dealing with mixed interference from the point of view of morphology and syntax. The examinees perceive the semantics and functions of the verbs of the German language and compare them with knowledge about the semantics and functions of verbs in Russian and English. As a result, the examinees have a generalized idea of verbal lexemes and their functions.

The orientation character of the main/subordinate part was established by the examinees based on their own naive linguistic ideas about the lexical and grammatical characteristics of the units of the German language (primarily predicative components, functions of actants, means of communication), excluding their use in a particular communication situation (unlike units of Russian or English in a similar situation communication).

4. Conclusion

Within the framework of the created psycholinguistic model, a speech utterance with subordination is a binary syntactic construction profiling the semantic-structural dependence of non-anthropological ontological events that unite within its limits, which is regulated by the prescriptive rules of the hierarchy of influences. At the same time, according to the hierarchy of influences, the valence of the predicative components of the main part of the speech utterance has a significant impact on its intra-positional programming.

The conducted psycholinguistic experiment has showed that during the synthesis of a speech utterance, the categorization and interpretation activity of the subjects developed in two directions. Firstly, the examinees restored the ‘general picture’ of the speech utterance, and secondly, they organized the components given in the questionnaire form taking into account the general valence positions of the predicative component of the main one according to the hierarchy of influences of the part of the utterance. These areas of categorization and interpretation activity correspond to the process of forming predicativity, reflecting the ability of a linguistic personality to structure non-anthropological ontological events perceived by it, to isolate their key components and establish semantic connections between them.

The analysis has also showed that predicative components realize their valence abilities under the control of lexical meaning.

The conducted experimental study has revealed areas of lexical and grammatical interference in the process of generating a verbal utterance with subordination in German, which include:

1) word order in the subordinate part;

2) separable verb prefixes;

3) the orientational nature of the main/subordinate part.

The established manifestations of lexical and grammatical interference can serve as a basis for the development of a training program for semantic and functional analysis of complex sentences of the German language. Such a program would contribute to the formation of pragmasyntactic stereotypes that allow to level interference.

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