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Grammar, lexis and context.

Batstone, Rob (1991) Grammar, lexis and context. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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Language teaching has been strongly influenced over recent years by talk of notions and functions , most notably through Wilkins' (1976) work on Notional Syllabuses . Yet the notional/functional syllabus has been criticized for failing to capture anything more than a superficial correspondence between form and meaning . In this thesis I argue for a framework in which a deeper congruence between form and meaning is developed . I identify regularities in the lexico-syntactic structure of English which express recognizable notional relationships , which in turn reflect deeper conceptualizations of relations between events and participants . These conceptualizations are represented on a semantic continuum of 'contextual distance' . By reference to this continuum , I argue that we can identify a clear congruence between increasing conceptual complexity and increasing lexicosyntactic complexity . This account gives considerable prominence to the role of lexis , and to the interdependence between grammar , lexis and context in the signalling of meaning , something which has not always been adequately considered within linguistics or within applied linguistics . I then consider a possible application of these ideas to pedagogy . In many 'product' approaches to syllabus design and methodology , learners work with language forms whose meanings are to an extent already fixed , with grammar subsuming lexis and with cotext and context already clearly related by the materials designer . In such approaches the interdependence between grammar , lexis and context is sometimes lost sight of , and I argue for a revised approach in which this interdependence is made central . Thus learners are encouraged to fashion their own meanings by working with lexical items , and by learning to grammaticize these lexical items by reference to context . By separating out grammar and lexis in this way , learners are given direct access to the deeper congruence between form and meaning - between grammar , lexis and context . The format of the thesis is as follows . I begin with a selective review of work in linguistics (chapter one) and applied linguistics (chapter two) , arguing that the importance of the grammar/lexis relationship has not (by and large) been much investigated . In chapter three I introduce the continuum of contextual distance , outlining a general hypothesis in which relationships between grammar , lexis and context are linked to a deeper understanding of the congruence between form and meaning . I go on to develop the detail of this hypothesis , looking both at ideational meanings (chapter four) and interpersonal meanings (chapter five) . Stepping back from these detailed arguments , I conclude by presenting an approach to classroom methodology (chapter six) and to syllabus design (chapter seven) based on the concept of learner grammaticization .

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Language studies,Applied linguistics,Grammar,Vocabulary,Pragmatics,Syllabus construction
Depositing User: Mr Andrew Welshman
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 10:07
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2015 14:14
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