Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Frank P. Parker


Five articles explain distinct types of linguistic phenomena with visual perception analogies. Together they give indications of similar cognitive systems underlying language and vision. First, relative numbers of languages with different basic-sentence orders for Subject, Verb, and Object fall in a hierarchy: #SOV $>$ #SVO $>$ #VSO $>$ #VOS $>$ #OVS $>$ #OSV. If syntactic interpretation parallels figure/ground interpretation and semantic form parallels enclosed visual forms then that hierarchy falls out more elegantly than in generative or functionalist explanations. Second, semantic interpretation of English syntactic form (subject NP-tense Aux-predicate VP), is modeled with the Penrose & Penrose "fork." Generative root and embedded clause filters in English are thereby motivated with one principle. Third, the significance of words is modeled with forms like Jastrow's duck/rabbit. Wittgenstein's objections to semantic theory are avoided; several meanings of individual words like game and play are accounted for. The last two articles apply visual models to the analysis of texts. Like icons or words, texts may substitute for different object-meanings (literary discourse) or be analyzed as one standard form (technical discourse) depending on types of detail in the text and the disposition of readers. Like the subject and predicate of a sentence, expository texts are organized as specific information (conclusions) relative to general information (topics). Hence, there are polar abstract types, summary-specific and descriptive-general. Summary abstracts are usually at the beginning of texts, just as subjects usually appear sentence-initially.