Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Ellyn Arwood

LC Subjects

Linguistics--Grammar--Grammemes; High School Student--Education


This qualitative study examines the cognitive and linguistic time constructs found within thirty written language samples collected from general education students at a technical high school in the Pacific Northwest. The students’ written language samples responded to the question, “What do you do on a typical day?” These written language samples were collected as part of the high school’s intake process.

Using four main rounds of analysis, the researcher examined the written language samples for: the surface structures of time such as tense, time words, modals, and conditionals; temporal propositions as defined by Arwood and Beggs (1992); speech acts, semantic roles and semantic relationships; and cognitive constructs of time such as the moving time, moving ego and succession of events conceptual metaphors.

The findings of the study indicate that the students are not writing using grammatically correct surface structures of time, nor are they making temporal propositions. Instead, the students are using mostly base form verbs in either present or ambiguous tense constructions. Most, but not all, of the students used the agent role in their writing, and more students used the locative role than used the time role. All the students expressed actions, but not all students used the agent action semantic relationship. All the students were able to express the speech act of responding, and two thirds of the students used what may be a new type of primitive speech act, listing of actions. All of the students used the succession of events conceptual metaphor for time, while one student used the moving ego metaphor and another used the moving iv time metaphor. These findings indicate that this group of students is functioning at the restricted pre-language function level of language function (ages 3-7 years), and at the preoperational level of development for temporal cognition (ages 3-7 years). These finding suggest that this group of students may have difficulty performing temporal tasks such as: arriving to class on time, planning and executing assignments and projects, turning in homework on time, expressing their ideas in a way that is meaningful to others, and participating in higher order thinking for diverse subjects including science, mathematics, English language, and history.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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