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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Combined constraints in speech production : evidence from linguistic data, oral poetry, and cultural dynamics Mirante, Nicole


This work describes a model of speech production based on the central role exercised by a speaker's working memory. It is proposed that speakers make intensive use of their working memory when planning, composing and uttering speech, and that a speaker's working memory is guided in its composition processes by an array of co-occurring cues, or constraints, which determine the selection of chunks of utterances in memory. The constraints are: semantic activation, imagery (i.e. the activation of detailed semantic, visual and spatial information), syntax, speech rhythm, prosody and sound repetitions. Speakers are exposed to the perception of environmental information and to others' speech, and these inputs determine the co-occurring activation and the selection of mnemonic data according to the constraints outlined. Evidence for the model is drawn from linguistic material, research on the cognitive psychology of oral literatures, and studies in social psychology and cultural information transmission. The model stems from criticism that I direct to the concept of language as it is understood in modern linguistics. It will be shown that the assumptions on which current theories of language rest are at odds with recent developments in philosophy and communication studies. It will be argued that the proposed model is not only more theoretically sound, but also more adequate to describe speech as it is produced by real speakers.

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