• AutoProp: a tool to automate the construction of psychological propositions

      Briner, Stephen W.; McCarthy, Philip M.; McNamara, Danielle S.; Department of Psychology, University of Memphis (University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2007)
      A prototype of an automated tool to construct a propositional textbase, AutoProp, is described and qualitatively assessed. The tool is specifically designed to propositionalize texts for experimental studies that collect and analyze participants’ recall of text. The procedure for creating the propositionalized text is explained, followed by a descriptive analysis of the tool’s propositions as compared to 29 hand-coded propositions. In initial testing, all of AutoProp’s propositions differed from the hand-coded propositions at a superficial level; however, no differences deemed uncorrectable were encountered. Based on the success of these initial results, we conclude that AutoProp is a viable tool worthy of continued examination and development. Limitations of the tool, along with future developmental plans and requirements addressing these limitations are also discussed.
    • Using Coh-Metrix to assess differences between English language varieties

      Hall, Charles; McCarthy, Philip M.; Lewis, Gwyneth A.; Lee, Debra S.; McNamara, Danielle S.; Department of Psychology, University of Memphis; Department of English, University of Memphis; CEELI Institute, the Czech Republic (University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2007)
      This study examined differences between the written, national language varieties of the United States and Great Britain, specifically in texts regarding the topic of Law. The few previous studies that have dealt with differences between the dialects of the United States and Great Britain have focused on shallow-level features, such as lexis, subject-verb agreement, and even orthography. In contrast, this study uses the computational tool, Coh-Metrix, to distinguish British from American discourse features within one highly similar genre, Anglo-American legal cases. We conducted a discriminant function analysis along five indices of cohesion on a specially constructed corpus to show those differences in over 400 American and English/Welsh legal cases. Our results suggest substantial differences between the language varieties, casting doubt on previous generalizations about British and American writing that predict that the national varieties would vary more by genre than by language variety. Our results also offer guidance to materials developers of legal English for international purposes (such as in the E.U.) and drafters of international legal documents for producing effective and appropriate materials.