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A terminological approach to the investigation of temporal ordering relations in English and German aircraft accident reports

Bajaj, Bettina C.; (2003) A terminological approach to the investigation of temporal ordering relations in English and German aircraft accident reports. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), University of Surrey. Green open access

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Abstract

Relations between concepts are not only important for representing domain knowledge but also for text comprehension. Traditional terminological research has mainly been concerned with logical relations, i.e. genus-species relations, and less with ontological relations, e.g. causal and temporal relations. Particularly little information is available on the latter, which are hence the focus of this study. Since temporal relations are vital for structuring many phenomena in the world in terms of temporal order, e.g. in legal procedures, police reports, reconstructions of accidents and crimes, manufacturing processes, chemical procedures, historical chronologies, and so on, they have been renamed temporal ordering relations. Only two broad relation types, i.e. sequence and simultaneity relations, are so far known in terminology. Also, little is known about how such relations are signalled in text. This exploratory study thus had three main goals: (1) to establish whether there are further relation types and to corroborate the proposed types through analysing special-language texts in two languages; (2) to identify and cross-linguistically compare the means conveying these relations; (3) to inquire into the links between the confirmed relations and their cues. Following a literature review drawing on terminology, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and artificial intelligence, a typology of 14 potential types of temporal ordering relation was constructed using the traditional method of shared characteristics. To test the typology, a bilingual English/German special-language corpus of official aircraft accident reports (ca. 22,000 words per language) was compiled. After initial semi-automatic processing using a concordancing system with the aim of identifying relevant text units of the text corpus, further analyses were carried out manually. They concerned a conceptual analysis to confirm the relations, a linguistic analysis of the selected text units in terms of cues for these relations, and an analysis of the links between the linguistic and conceptual realms of these relations. The main result of the conceptual analysis is that 11 relation types could be confirmed in the text corpus. One major relation type emerged, the sequence-with-gap interval relation, which in turn could also be identified as the prototypical relation within the framework of prototype theory, an alternative method of classification. The main finding of the linguistic analysis of the relations revealed a lack of clear correspondences between the linguistic and conceptual levels as a means of accessing these relations, i.e. time-related knowledge in text. As part of the inquiry into temporal ordering relations, the conceptual structures which can be linked by these relations were explored: (1) solitary concepts (e.g. representing entities such as fuselage), linguistically expressed by terms; (2) complex conceptual structures (e.g. representing situations such as the aircraft climbed through an altitude of 2,800 feet in a steep turn to the right), linguistically realized as non-terminologized clauses or sentences. Hence, the present research into temporal ordering relations transcended the boundaries of traditional terminological investigations since it went beyond the notions of solitary concepts and terms, and even LSP (Language for Special Purposes) phrases. Accordingly, the study has had to draw on related disciplines in order to support the description of complex conceptual structures since terminologists have only been concerned with certain aspects of special languages, i.e. with graphemes, phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, word forms, and phrases. Hence, this study highlights the fact that it is not easy to delimit the exploration of temporal ordering relations in the traditional terminological manner originally promoted by Wüster, i.e. to solitary concepts and terms. The main implications of the study are that (1) the lack of correspondences between the linguistic and conceptual levels of temporal ordering relations suggests that writing specialist texts in which the description of temporally ordered phenomena is important may be improved using controlled language if the means signalling more than one type of temporal order are used in such a way that ambiguities are avoided; as a result, specialist translations of such reports could be facilitated, and in terminography controlled temporal words and phrases may be useful for organizing time-related domain knowledge; (2) the automatic extraction of temporal knowledge from texts may be aided since the lack of correspondences alert users to the various temporal and non-temporal functions of cues.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A terminological approach to the investigation of temporal ordering relations in English and German aircraft accident reports
Event: University of Surrey
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access thesis published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112005
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