Linguistic Foundations for a Theory of Content Analysis.

by David G. Hays


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A discussion of the theory that content analysis of messages is a central topic in all sciences dealing with man. Assigning properties to words and then counting the appearances of the properties is insufficient; the content of a message should be analyzed in terms of what has gone before and its relationship to what the sender and the receiver already know. The contribution of linguistics is to explicate the relationship between overt expression and content. The remarkably complicated relationships between acoustic signals and content are simplified by syntactic analysis, preferably through the use of computers. Much about language cannot be explained without grand theory, and the unexplained part is what is needed for content analysis. Linguistics can furnish a partial model of the communicator; models of cognitive processing and of attitude formation and change are also needed. Serious work on content analysis could alter the social and behavioral sciences in fundamental ways. 21 pp. Ref.

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