Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Influence of the Field of Education on Meaning Predictability of Novel Compounds

Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

Influence of the Field of Education on Meaning Predictability of Novel Compounds

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

When language users encounter a new lexical unit for the first time they assign certain lexical meaning to it. Since the lexical unit is unknown to them, such an assignment of meaning is a matter of prediction. However, the meaning is not assigned arbitrarily--apart from the grammar rules of a language, language users' prediction is governed by their previous experience. In his meaning predictability theory, Stekauer (2005) emphasizes the role of extra-linguistic knowledge, experience and personal preferences in the process of meaning interpretation. Language users judge plausibility of certain interpretations in accordance with their extra-linguistic knowledge and experience. These judgments are directly influenced by the reality experienced by interpreters - plausible are those readings which reflect more realistic relations than others and denote possible extra-linguistic objects.

Extra-linguistic knowledge of language users depends on their position in society. Gleitman and Gleitman (1970) found out that educational level of language users has impact on their interpretation of new compounds (lower educated participants of their research made more 'errors' - proposals of unacceptable readings - than participants with higher education). These results indicate that (at least some) sociolinguistic factors belong to extra-linguistic factors that influence the interpretation process. Other relevant sociolinguistic factors include age, occupation, mother tongue (especially in the case of non-native speakers), etc. Stekauer (2005) also demonstrates that the native/non-native speaker factor does not play any significant role in interpretation of novel English naming units. This study focuses on the language users' field of education, in particular, compares the field of natural sciences and the field of humanities.

It is reasonable to expect that this factor may influence interpretation of novel naming units. Karakas (2010) points out that over the last fifty years there has been a discussion on differences between sciences and humanities in terms of the paradigms of thinking. He points out that traditionally, creative thinking has been associated with humanities, while critical thinking with sciences. Karakas as well as Baker and Rudd (2001) give an overview of characteristics assigned to creative and critical thinking. Critical thinking is reflective and analytical, based on careful consideration of supposed knowledge and logical reasoning. Its aim is to achieve a certain goal - to decide what to think or do. Although critical thinkers should be open to alternatives, they concentrate on finding a solution ('a desirable outcome'), and thus critical thinking is considered convergent. On the other hand, creative thinking is inventive, imaginative, intuitive, based on originality and a sudden 'illumination' which follows an unconscious phase of incubation (unconscious thought of a problem). Creative thinking tries to provide various possibilities and original ideas and therefore it is considered divergent. Nevertheless, in the process of creative problem solving, the phase of creativity is always preceded and followed by critical, analytic thinking (in the form of initial study of data and sources, and subsequent verification of hypotheses). Although Karakas (2010) argues that people from science as well as humanities use both creative and critical thinking and that these processes of thinking overlap, Mumford et al. (2010) found some differences in several stages of thinking during creative problem solving process among students of different fields.

Mumford et al. studied thinking processes in doctoral students of health, biological and social sciences. While students of the first two categories might be considered to belong to the field of sciences (although the authors considered them distinct fields, as health science is applied), students of social sciences belong to the field of humanities. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.