Lexical And Pragmatic Considerations Of Input English Language Essay

Increased entree to computer-based tools has made merely excessively clear the lacks in our ability to bring forth effectual user interfaces ( Baecker, 1980a ) . Many of our current jobs are rooted in our deficiency of sufficiently powerful theories and methodological analysiss. User interface design remains more of a originative art than a difficult scientific discipline.

Following an antique technique, the point of going for much recent work has been to try to enforce some construction on the job sphere. Possibly the most important difference between this work and earlier attempts is the weight placed on considerations falling outside the range of conventional computing machine scientific discipline. The traditional problem-reduction paradigm is being replaced by a holistic attack which views the job as an integrating of issues from computing machine scientific discipline, electrical technology, industrial design, cognitive psychological science, psychophysics, linguistics, and kinesthesiss.

In the chief organic structure of this paper, we examine some of the taxonomies which have been proposed and exemplify how they can function as utile constructions for associating surveies in user interface jobs. In so making, we attempt to augment the power of these constructions by developing their ability to take into history the consequence of sign and positional factors on the overall consequence of the user interface.


One construction for sing the job sphere of the user interface is provided by Foley and Van Dam ( 1982 ) . They describe the infinite in footings of the following four beds:





The conceptual degree incorporates the chief constructs of the system as seen by the user. Therefore, Foley and Van Dam see it as being tantamount to the user theoretical account. The semantic degree incorporates the functionality of the system: what can be expressed. The syntactic degree defines the grammatical construction of the items used to joint a semantic construct. Finally, the lexical constituent defines the construction of these items.

One of the benefits of such a taxonomy is that it can function as the footing for systems analysis in the design procedure. It besides helps us categorise assorted user interface surveies so as to avoid “ apples and bananas ” type of comparings. For illustration, the surveies of Ledgard, Whiteside, Singer and Seymour ( 1980 ) and Barnard, Hammond, Morton and Long ( 1981 ) both address issues at the syntactic degree. They can, hence, be compared ( which is rather interesting since they give extremely contradictory consequences ) [ 2 ] . On the other manus, by acknowledging the “ key stroke ” theoretical account of Card, Moran and Newell ( 1980b ) as turn toing the lexical degree, we have a good manner of understanding its restrictions and comparing it to related surveies ( such as Embley, Lan, Leinbaugh and Nagy, 1978 ) , or associating it to surveies which address different degrees ( such as the two surveies in sentence structure mentioned above ) .

While the taxonomy presented by Foley and Van Dam has proven to be a utile tool, our sentiment is that it has one major shortcoming. That is, the grain of the lexical degree is excessively harsh to allow the full benefit of the theoretical account to be derived. As defined, the writers lump together issues every bit diverse as: how items are spelt ( for illustration “ add ” vs “ append ” V “ a ” V some graphical icon )

where points are placed spatially on the show ( both in footings of the layout and figure of Windowss, and the layout of informations within those Windowss )

where devices are placed in the work station

the type of physical gesture ( as determined by the transducer employed ) used to joint a item ( indicating with a control stick V a lightpen V a tablet V a mouse, for illustration )

These issues are sufficiently different to justify separate intervention. Grouping them under a individual header has the danger of bring forthing confusion comparable to that which could ensue if no difference was made between the semantic and syntactic degrees. Therefore, taking our cue from work in linguistic communication understanding research in the AI community, we chose to subdivide Foley and Van Dam ‘s lexical degree into the undermentioned two constituents:

lexical: issues holding to make with spelling of items ( i.e. , the ordination of lexemes and the nature of the alphabet used – symbolic or iconic, for illustration ) .

matter-of-fact: issues of gesture, infinite and devices.

To exemplify the differentiation, in the Keystroke model the figure of cardinal pushes would be a map of the lexical construction while the homing clip and pointing clip would be a map of pragmatics.

Factoring out these two degrees helps us concentrate on the fact that the issues impacting each are different, as is their influence on the overall consequence of the user interface. This is illustrated in illustrations which are presented subsequently in this paper.

It should be pointed out that our isolation of what we have called matter-of-fact issues is non particularly original. We see a similar position in the Command Language Grammar of Moran ( 1981 ) , which is the 2nd chief taxonomy which we present. Moran represents the sphere of the user interface in footings of three constituents, each of which is sub-divided into two degrees. These are as follows:

Conceptual Component

– undertaking degree

– semantic degree

Communication Component

– syntactic degree

– interaction degree

Physical Component

– spatial degree

– device degree

The undertaking degree encompasses the set of undertakings which the user brings to the system and for which it is intended to function as a tool. The semantic degree lays out the conceptual entities of the system and the conceptual operations upon them. As with the Foley and Van Dam theoretical account, the syntactic degree so incorporates the construction of the linguistic communication within which the semantic degree is embedded.

The interaction degree relates the user ‘s physical actions to the conventions of the interactions in the duologue. The spacial degree so encompasses issues related to how information is laid out on the show, while the device degree covers issues such as what types of devices are used and their belongingss ( for illustration, the consequence on user public presentation if the locater used is a mouse V an isometric control stick vs step-keys ) . ( A representative treatment of such issues can be found in Card, English and Burr, 1978 ) .

One subtle but of import accent in Moran ‘s paper is on the point that it is the consequence of the user interface as a whole ( that is, all degrees combined ) which constitutes the user ‘s theoretical account. The other chief difference of his taxonomy, when compared to that of Foley and Van Dam, is his accent on the importance of the physical constituent. A defect, nevertheless, lies in the absence of a slot which encapsulates the lexical degree as we have defined it above. Like the lexical degree ( as defined by Foley and Van Dam ) , the interaction degree of Moran appears a small excessively wide in range when compared to the other degrees in the taxonomy.



In analyzing the two surveies discussed above, one rapidly recognizes that the consequence of the matter-of-fact degree on the user interface, and hence on the user theoretical account, is given really small attending. Moran, for illustration, points out that the physical constituent exists and that it is of import, but does non discourse it farther. Foley and Van Dam bury these issues within the lexical degree. Our chief thesis is that since the primary degree of contact with an synergistic system is at the degree of pragmatics, this degree has one of the strongest effects on the user ‘s perceptual experience of the system. Consequently, the theoretical accounts which we adopt in order to stipulate, design, implement, comparison and evaluate synergistic systems must be sufficiently rich to capture and pass on the system ‘s belongingss at this degree. This is clearly non the instance with most theoretical accounts, and this should be cause for concern. To exemplify this, allow us analyze a few instance surveies which relate the consequence of pragmatics to:

pencil-and-paper trials of question linguistic communications

easiness of usage with regard to action linguistic communication grammars

device independency


As an assistance to the design of effectual informations base question linguistic communications, Reisner ( 1977 ) has proposed the usage of pencil-and-paper trials. Subjects were taught a question linguistic communication in a class-room environment and so tested as to their ability to explicate and understand questions. Different control groups were taught different linguistic communications. By comparing the trial consequences of the different groups, Reisner drew decisions as to the comparative “ goodness ” of construction and easiness of acquisition of the different linguistic communications. She so made the statement that the technique could be used to happen failings in new linguistic communications before they are implemented, thereby shortening their development rhythm.

While the paper makes some of import points, it has a serious defect in that it does non indicate out the restrictions of the technique. The attack does state us something about the cognitive load involved in the acquisition of a query linguistic communication. But it does non state us everything. In peculiar, the technique is wholly incapable of taking into history the consequence that the agencies and medium of making something has on our ability to retrieve how to make it. To rephrase McLuhan, the medium does impact the message.

Issues of sentence structure are non independent of pragmatics, but pencil-and-paper trials can non take such dependences into history. For illustration, see the function of “ musculus memory ” in remembering how to execute assorted undertakings. The strength of its influence can be seen in my ability to type rather efficaciously, even though I am incapable of stating you where the assorted characters are on my QWERTY keyboard, or in my ability to open a lock whose combination I can non declaim. Yet, this consequence will ne’er demo up in a pencil-and-paper trial. Another illustration is seen in the technique ‘s inability to take into history the part that appropriate feedback and assist mechanisms can supply in developing mnemonics and other memory and learning AIDSs.

We are non seeking to claim that such pencil-and-paper trials are non of usage ( although Barnard et Al, 1981, point out some of import dangers in utilizing such techniques ) . We are merely seeking to exemplify some of their restrictions, and demonstrate that deficiency of equal accent on pragmatics can ensue in readers ( and writers ) pulling false or deceptive decisions from their work. Furthermore, we conjecture that if pragmatics were isolated as a separate degree in a taxonomy such as that of Foley and Van Dam, they would be less likely to be ignored.



In another survey, Reisner ( 1981 ) makes an of import part by demoing how the analysis of the grammar of the “ action linguistic communication ” of an synergistic system can supply valuable prosodies for foretelling the easiness of usage and proneness to mistake of that system. Therefore, an of import tool for system design, analysis and comparing is introduced.

The footing of the technique is that the complexness of the grammar is a good metric for the cognitive load of larning and utilizing the system. Grammar complexness is measured in footings of figure of productions and production length. There is a job, nevertheless, which limits our ability to harvest the full benefits of the technique. This has to make with the technique ‘s current inability to take into history what we call lumping. By this we mean the phenomenon where two or more actions fuse together into a individual gesture ( in a mode correspondent to the formation of a compound word in linguistic communication ) . In many instances, the cognitive load of the ensuing sum may be the equivalent of a individual item. In footings of formal linguistic communication theory, a non-terminal when effected by an appropriate compound gesture may transport the cognitive load of a individual terminus.

Such unitization may be either consecutive, parallel or both. Consecutive, it should be recognized that some actions have different grades of closing than others. For illustration, take two events, each of which is to be triggered by the alteration of province of a switch. If a foot-switch similar to the high/low beam switch in some autos is used, the down action of a down/up gesture triggers each event. The point to observe is that there is no kinaesthetic connexion between the gesture that triggers one event and that which triggers the other. Each action is complete in itself and, as with driving a auto, the operator is free to originate other actions before altering the province of the switch once more.

On the other manus, the same binary map could be controlled by a pes pedal which maps like the sustain pedal of a piano. In this instance, one province alteration occurs on depression, a 2nd on release. Here, the point to acknowledge is that the 2nd action is a direct consequent of its predecessor. The sentence structure is inexplicit, and the cognitive load of retrieving what to make after the first action is minimum.

There are many instances where this type of kinaesthetic connectivity can be bound to a sequence of items which are logically connected. One illustration given by Buxton ( 1982 ) is in choosing an point from a artworks bill of fare and “ dragging ” it into place in a work infinite. A buttoned-down action ( while indicating at an point ) “ choices it up ” . For every bit long as the button is depressed, the point tracks the gesture of the pointing device. When the button is released, the point is anchored in its current place. Hence, the interface is designed to coerce the user to follow proper sentence structure: select so place. There is no possibility for syntactic mistake, and cognitive resources are non consumed in seeking to retrieve “ what do I make next? ” . Thus, by acknowledging and working such instances, interfaces can be constructed which are “ natural ” and easy to larn.

There is a similar type of lumping which can take topographic point when two or more gestures are articulated at one clip. Again we can take an illustration from driving a auto, where in altering cogwheels the actions on the clasp, gas pedal and gear-shift reinforce one another and are coordinated into a individual gesture. Choosing appropriate gestures for such co-ordinated actions can speed up their bonding into what the user thinks of as a individual act, thereby liberating up cognitive resources to be applied to more of import undertakings. What we are reasoning here is that by fiting appropriate gestures with undertakings, we can assist render complex accomplishments everyday and derive benefits similar to those seen at different degree in Card, Moran and Newell ( 1980a ) .

In drumhead, there are three chief points which we wish to do with this illustration:

there is an of import interplay between the syntactic and lexical degrees and the matter-of-fact degree

that this interplay can be exploited to cut down the cognitive load of larning and utilizing a system

that this can non be accomplished without a better apprehension of matter-of-fact issues such as unitization and closing.


We began by declaring the importance of being able to integrate matter-of-fact issues into the theoretical accounts which we use to stipulate, design, comparison and evaluate systems. The illustrations which followed so illustrated some of the grounds for this belief. When we view the CORE proposal ( GSPC, 1977 ; GSPC, 1979 ) from this position, nevertheless, we see several jobs. The footing of how the CORE system attacks input is to cover with user actions in footings of abstractions, or logical devices ( such as “ locaters ” and “ appraisers ” ) . The purpose is to ease package portability. If all “ locaters ” , for illustration, utilized a common protocol, so user A ( who merely had a mouse ) could easy implement package developed by B ( who merely had a tablet ) .

From the application coder ‘s position, this is a valuable characteristic. However, for the intents of stipulating systems from the user ‘s point of position, these abstractions are of really limited benefit. As Baecker ( 1980b ) has pointed out, the effectivity of a peculiar user interface is frequently due to the usage of a peculiar device, and that effectivity will be lost if that device were replaced by some other of the same logical category. For illustration, we have a system ( Fedorkow, Buxton & A ; Smith, 1978 ) whose interface depends on the coincident use of four control sticks. Now in malice of tablets and control sticks both being “ locater ” devices, it is clear that they are non interchangeable in this state of affairs. We can non at the same time pull strings four tablets. Therefore, for the full potency of device independency to be realized, such matter-of-fact considerations must be incorporated into our overall specification theoretical account so that appropriate equivalencies can be determined in a methodological manner. ( That is, in stipulating a generic device, we must besides include the needed matter-of-fact properties. But to make so, we must develop a taxonomy of such properties, merely as we have developed a taxonomy of practical devices. )

Figure 1: Taxonomy of Input Devices.

Continuous manual input devices are categorized. The first order classification is belongings perceived ( rows ) and figure of dimensions ( columns ) . Subrows distinguish between devices that have a mechanical mediator ( such as a stylus ) between the manus and the detection mechanism ( indicated by “ M ” ) , and those which are touch sensitive ( indicated by “ T ” ) . Subcolumns distinguish devices that use comparable motor control for their operation.



In position of the predating treatment, we have attempted to develop a taxonomy which helps insulate relevant features of input devices. The tableau shown in Figure 1 summarizes this attempt in a two dimensional representation. The balance of this subdivision presents the inside informations and motive for this tableau ‘s organisation.

To get down with, the tableau deals merely with uninterrupted manus controlled devices. ( Pedal points, for illustration, are non included for simpleness ‘s interest. ) Therefore the first ( but implicit ) inquiries in our construction are:

uninterrupted V discrete?

agent of control ( manus, pes, voice, … ) ?

The tabular array is divided into a matrix whose rows and columns delimit

what is being sensed ( place, gesture or force per unit area ) , and

the figure of dimensions being sensed ( 1, 2 or 3 ) ,

severally. These primary dividers of the matrix are delimited by solid lines. Hence, both the traffic circle and skiding potentiometer autumn into the box associated with unidimensional position-sensitive devices ( top left-hand corner ) .

Note that the primary rows and columns of the matrix are subdivided, as indicated by the flecked lines. The sub-columns exist to insulate devices whose control gesture is approximately similar. These groupings can be seen in analyzing the planar devices. Here the tableau implies that tablets and mice utilize similar types of manus control and that this control is different from that shared in utilizing a light-pen or touch-screen. Furthermore, it is shown that control sticks and trackballs portion a common control gesture which is, in bend, different than the other subclasses of

planar devices.

The rows for place and gesture detection devices are subdivided in order to distinguish between transducers which sense possible via mechanical V touch-sensitive agencies. Therefore, we see that the light-pen and touch-screen are closely related, except that the light-pen employs a mechanical transducer. Similarly, we see that trackball and TASA touch-pad [ 3 ] provide comparable signals from comparable gestures ( the 4 ” by 4 ” dimensions of the TASA device comparison to a 3 1/2 ” diameter trackball ) .

The tableau is utile for many intents by virtuousness of the construction which it imposes on the sphere of input devices. First, it helps in happening appropriate equivalencies. This is of import in footings of covering with some of the jobs which arose in our treatment of device independency. For illustration, we saw a instance where four tablets would non be suited for replacing four control sticks. By utilizing the tableau, we see that four trackballs will likely make.

The tableau makes it easy to associate different devices in footings of metaphor. For illustration, a tablet is to a mouse what a control stick is to a trackball. Furthermore, if the taxonomy defined by the tableau can propose new transducers in a mode correspondent to the periodic tabular array of Mendeleev foretelling new elements, so we can hold more assurance in its implicit in premises. We make this claim for the tableau and mention the “ torsion feeling ” unidimensional pressure-sensitive transducer as an illustration. To our cognition, no such device exists commercially. Nevertheless

it is a potentially utile device, an estimate of which has been demonstrated by Herot and Weinzaphel ( 1978 ) .

Finally, the tableau is utile in assisting quantify the generalization of assorted physical devices. In instances where the work station is limited to one or two input devices, so it is frequently in the user ‘s involvement to take the least confining devices. For this ground, many people claim that tablets are the preferable device since they can emulate many of the other transducers ( as is demonstrated by Evans, Tanner and Wein, 1981 ) . The tableau is utile in finding the grade of this generalization by “ filling in ” the squares which can be adequately covered by the tablet.

Before go forthing the subject of the tableau, it is deserving noticing on why a primary standard for grouping devices was whether they were sensitive to place, gesture or force per unit area. The ground is that what is sensed has a really strong consequence on the nature of the duologues that the system can back up with any grade of eloquence. As an illustration, allow us compare how the user interface of an instrumentality console can be affected by the pick of whether gesture or place sensitive transducers are used. For such consoles, one design doctrine follows the traditional theoretical account that for every map there should be a device. One of the principles behind this attack is to avoid the usage of “ manners ” which result when a individual device must function for more than one map. Another doctrine takes the point of position that the figure of devices required in a console demand merely be in the order of the control bandwidth of the human operator. Here, the principle is that careful design can minimise the “ manner ” job, and that the ensuing simple consoles are more cost-efficient and less prone to breakdown ( since they have fewer devices ) .

One effect of the 2nd doctrine is that the same transducer must be made to command different maps, or parametric quantities, at different times. This context exchanging introduces something known as the nulling job. The point which we are traveling to do is that this job can be wholly avoided if the transducer in inquiry is gesture instead than place sensitive. Let us see why.

Imagine that you have a sliding potentiometer which controls parameter A. Both the potentiometer and the parametric quantity are at their minimal values. You so raise A to its maximal value by forcing up the place of the potentiometer ‘s grip. You now want to alter the value of parametric quantity B. Before you can make so utilizing the same potentiometer, the grip of the potentiometer must be repositioned to a place matching to the current value of parametric quantity B. The necessity of holding to execute this normalizing map is the nulling job.

Contrast the trouble of executing the above interaction utilizing a position-sensitive device with the easiness of making so utilizing one which senses gesture. If a thumb-wheel or a treadmill-like device was used, the minute that the transducer is connected to the parametric quantity it can be used to “ force ” the value up or “ pull ” it down. Furthermore, the same transducer can be used to at the same time alter the value of a group of parametric quantities, all of whose instantaneous values are different.



The above illustration brings up one of import point: the different degrees of the taxonomies of Foley and Van Dam or of Moran are non extraneous. By depicting the user interface in footings of a horizontal construction, it is really easy to fall into the trap of believing that the consequence of alterations at one degree will be isolated. This is clearly non true as the above illustration demonstrated: the pick of transducer type had a strong consequence on sentence structure.

The illustration is non isolated. In fact, merely as strong an statement could be made for following a theoretical account based on a perpendicular construction as the horizontal 1s which we have discussed. Models based on interaction techniques such as those described in Martin ( 1973 ) and Foley, Wallace and Chan ( 1981 ) are illustrations. With them, the primary gestalt is the dealing, or interaction. The user theoretical account is described in footings of the set and manner of the interactions which take topographic point over clip. Syntactic, lexical and matter-of-fact inquiries become sub-issues.

Neither the horizontal or perpendicular position is “ right ” . The point is that both must be kept in head during the design procedure. A major challenge is to accommodate our theoretical accounts so that this is done in a good structured manner. That we still have jobs in making so can be seen in Moran ‘s taxonomy. Much of the trouble in understanding the theoretical account is due to jobs in his attack in incorporating vertically oriented constructs ( the interaction degree ) into an otherwise horizontal construction.

In malice of such troubles, both positions must be considered. This is an of import cautionary bell to peal given the current tendency towards deputing personal duties harmonizing to horizontal stratification. The design of a system ‘s data-base, for illustration, has a really strong consequence on the semantics of the interactions that can be supported. If the computer science environment is selected by one individual, the data-base managed by another, the semantics or functional capableness by another, and the “ user interface ” by yet another, there is in built-in danger that the determinations of one will adversely impact another. This is non to state that such an organisational construction can non work. It is merely imperative that we be cognizant of the booby traps so that they can be avoided. Decisions made at all degrees affect one another and all determinations potentially have an consequence on the user theoretical account.



Two taxonomies for depicting the job sphere of the user interface were described. In the treatment it was pointed out that the outer degrees of the strata, those refering lexical, spacial, and physical issues were neglected. The impression of pragmatics was introduced in order to ease concentrating attending on these issues. Several illustrations were so examined which illustrated why this was of import. In so making, it was seen that the power of assorted bing theoretical accounts could be extended if we had a better apprehension of matter-of-fact issues. As a measure towards such an apprehension, a taxonomy of manus controlled uninterrupted input devices was introduced. It was seen that this taxonomy made some part towards turn toing jobs which arose in the instance surveies. It was besides seen, nevertheless, that issues at this outer degree of devices had a potentially strong consequence on the other degrees of the system. Hence, the danger of over-concentration on horizontal stratification was pointed out.

The work reported has made some part towards an apprehension of the consequence of issues which we have called pragmatics. It is, nevertheless, a really little measure. While there is a great trade of work still to be done right at the device degree, possibly the biggest challenge is to develop a better apprehension of the interplay among the different degrees in the strata of a system. When we have developed a methodological analysis which allows us to find the gesture that best suits the look of a peculiar construct, so we will be able to construct the user interfaces which today are merely a dream.



The thoughts presented in this paper have developed over a period of clip and owe much to treatments with our pupils and co-workers. In peculiar, a great debt is owed to Ron Baecker who was responsible for assisting formulate many of the thoughts presented. In add-on, we would wish to admit the part of Alain Fournier, Russell Kirsch, Eugene Fiume and Ralph Hill in the rational development of the paper, and the aid of Monica Delange in the readying of the manuscript. Finally, we appreciatively acknowledge the fiscal support of the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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1 Barnard et Al invalidate Ledgard et Al ‘s chief thesis that the sentence structure of natural linguistic communication is needfully the best suited for bid linguistic communications. They demonstrate instances where fixed-field format is less prone to user mistake than the direct object- indirect object sentence structure of natural linguistic communication. A major job of the paper of Ledgard et Al is that they did non prove many of the interesting instances and so drew decisions that went beyond what their consequences supported.

2 The TASA X-Y 360 is a 4 ” by 4 ” touch sensitive device which gives 60 units of delta transition in 4 inches of travel. The device is available from TASA, 2346 Walsh Ave. , Santa Clara CA, 95051.

Lexical Approach 1 – What does the lexical attack expression like?

Carlos Islam, The University of Maine

Ivor Timmis, Leeds Metropolitan University

This article looks at the theories of linguistic communication which form the foundations of the lexical attack to learning English.


The theory of linguistic communication

Principle 1 – Grammaticalised Lexis

Principle 2 – Collocation in action

About the Writers

Further Reading


The rules of the Lexical Approach have been around since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach ‘ 10 old ages ago. It seems, nevertheless, that many instructors and research workers do non hold a clear thought of what the Lexical Approach really looks like in pattern.

In this first of two THINK articles we look at how advocators of the Lexical Approach position linguistic communication. In our 2nd THINK article we apply theories of linguistic communication acquisition to a Lexical Approach and depict what lexical lessons could look like.

We have besides produced two TRY pieces incorporating instruction stuffs for you to seek out in your ain schoolrooms. Your feedback, sentiments, remarks and suggestions would be more than welcome and used to organize the footing of a future article.

The theory of linguistic communication

Undertaking 1

Expression at this version of the debut. What do the parts printed in bold in square brackets have in common?

The rules of the Lexical Approach have [ been around ] since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach ‘ [ 10 old ages ago ] . [ It seems, nevertheless, that ] many instructors and research workers do non [ hold a clear thought of ] what the Lexical Approach really [ expressions like ] [ in pattern ] .

All the parts in brackets are fixed or set phrases. Different observers use different and overlapping footings – ‘prefabricated phrases ‘ , ‘lexical phrases ‘ , ‘formulaic linguistic communication ‘ , ‘frozen and semi-frozen phrases ‘ , are merely some of these footings. We use merely two: ‘lexical balls ‘ and ‘collocations ‘ .

‘Lexical ball ‘ is an umbrella term which includes all the other footings. We define a lexical ball as any brace or group of words which is normally found together, or in close propinquity.

‘Collocation ‘ is besides included in the term ‘lexical ball ‘ , but we refer to it individually from clip to clip, so we define it as a brace of lexical content words normally found together. Following this definition, ‘basic ‘ + ‘principles ‘ is a collocation, but ‘look ‘ + ‘at ‘ is non because it combines a lexical content word and a grammar map word. Identifying balls and collocations is frequently a inquiry of intuition, unless you have entree to a principal.

Here are some illustrations.

Lexical Chunks ( that are non collocations )

by the manner

up to now

upside down

If I were you

a long manner off

out of my head

Lexical Chunks ( that are collocations )

wholly positive

strong speech pattern

awful accident

sense of temper

sounds exciting

brings good fortune

Top of page

Principle 1- Grammaticalised lexis

In recent old ages it has been recognised both that native talkers have a huge stock of these lexical balls and that these lexical balls are critical for fluid production. Eloquence does non depend so much on holding a set of productive grammar regulations and a separate stock of words – the ‘slot and filler ‘ or unfastened pick rule – as on holding rapid entree to a stock of balls:

“ It is our ability to utilize lexical phrases that helps us to talk with eloquence. This prefabricated address has both the advantages of more efficient retrieval and of allowing talkers ( and scholars ) to direct their attending to the larger construction of the discourse, instead than maintaining it narrowly focused on single words as they are produced ” ( Nattinger and DeCarrico 1992 ) .

The basic rule of the lexical attack, so, is: “ Language is grammaticalised lexis, non lexicalised grammar ” ( Lewis 1993 ) . In other words, lexis is cardinal in making significance, grammar plays a subservient managerial function. If you accept this rule so the logical deduction is that we should pass more clip assisting scholars develop their stock of phrases, and less clip on grammatical constructions.

Let ‘s look at an illustration of lexical balls or prefabricated address in action:

Chris: Carlos tells me Naomi fancies him.

Ivor: : It ‘s merely a figment of his imaginativeness.

Harmonizing to the theory we have merely outlined, it is non the instance that Ivor has accessed ‘figment ‘ and ‘imagination ‘ from his vocabulary shop and so accessed the construction: it+to be+ adverb + article + noun + of + genitive adjectival + noun from the grammar shop. It is more likely that Ivor has accessed the whole ball in one spell. We have, in Peters ‘ words, in add-on to vocabulary and grammar shops, a ‘phrasebook with grammatical notes ‘ . Probably, the ball is stored something like this:

It is/was + ( just/only ) + a figment of + genitive + imaginativeness

Accessing, in consequence, 8 words in one spell allows me to talk fluently and to concentrate on other facets of the discourse – more remarks about Carlos, for illustration. We can do 2 more points about this illustration:

A figure of friends and co-workers were asked to give an illustration of the word ‘figment ‘ . They all gave an illustration which corresponds to our ball above. When asked to specify the word ‘figment ‘ , barely anyone could make this accurately. This is an illustration of how native talkers routinely use balls without analyzing the component parts.

There is nil per se negative in the dictionary definition of the word ‘figment ‘ , yet it is ever, in my experience, used dismissively or scoffingly. This is an illustration of how we store information about a word which goes beyond its simple significance.

Principle 2 – Collocation in action

In an application signifier a campaigner referred to a ‘large subject ‘ in his thesis. This sounded ugly, but there is nil per se ugly about either word, it ‘s merely a unusual combination to a native-speaker ear. In the Lexical Approach, sensitizing pupils to acceptable collocations is really of import, so you might happen this sort of undertaking:

Underline the word which does non collocate with ‘theme ‘ :

chief subject / big subject / of import subject / cardinal subject / major subject

Undertaking 2

Complete the undermentioned sentences with every bit many different words as you can.

( a ) The Lexical Approach has had a strongaˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦.on me.

( B ) Carlos and Ivor aˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦..me to seek out the Lexical Approach.

A 2nd of import facet of the Lexical Approach is that lexis and grammar are closely related. If you look at the illustrations above, you will see in ( a ) that 3 semantically related words – impact, influence, consequence – behave the same manner grammatically: have a/an impact/influence/effect on something. In ( B ) verbs connected with originating action – encourage, persuade, impulse, rede etc all follow the form verb + object + infinitive. This sort of ‘pattern grammar ‘ is considered to be of import in the Lexical Approach.

About the writers

Carlos Islam teaches ESL and Applied Linguistics at the University of Maine. He is besides involved in stuffs composing undertakings, redacting Folio ( the diary of the Materials Development Association www.matsda.org.uk ) and linguistic communication acquisition research.

Ivor Timmis is Lecturer in Language Teaching and Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University. He teaches on the MA in Materials Development for Language Teachers, works on stuffs development consultancies and is besides involved in principal lingual research.

Further reading

Baigent, Maggie ( 1999 ) . Teaching in balls: incorporating a lexical attack. Modern English Teacher 8 ( 2 ) : 51-54.

Lewis, Michael ( 1993 ) , The Lexical Approach, Hove: Language Teaching Publications.

Lewis, Michael ( 1996 ) . Deductions of a lexical position of linguistic communication. In Challenge And Change In Language Teaching, Jane Willis and Dave Willis ( eds. ) . Oxford: Heinemann.

Lewis, Michael ( 1997 ) . Implementing the Lexical Approach: Puting Theory Into Practice. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.

Lewis, Michael ( 2000 ) . Language in the lexical attack. In Teaching Collocation: Further Developments In The Lexical Approach, Michael Lewis ( ed. ) , 126-154. Heave: Language Teaching Publications.

Nattinger, James R. and DeCarrico Jeanette S. ( 1992 ) . Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pawley, Andrew and Syder, Frances Hodgetts. ( 1983 ) . Two mystifiers for lingual theory: native like choice and native like eloquence. In Language And Communication, Jack C. Richards and Richard W. Schmidt ( explosive detection systems. ) , 191-225. London: Longman.

Thornbury, Scott ( 1997 ) . Reformulation and Reconstruction: undertakings that promote ‘noticing ‘ . ELT Journal 51 ( 4 ) : 326-334.

Thornbury, Scott ( 1998 ) . The Lexical Approach: a journey without maps? Modern English Teacher 7 ( 4 ) : 7-13.

Willis, Dave ( 1990 ) . The Lexical Syllabus: A New Approach To Language Learning. London: Collins ELT.

Woolard, George ( 2000 ) . Collocation- encouraging scholar independency. In Teaching Collocation: Further Developments In The Lexical Approach, Michael Lewis ( ed. ) , 28-46. Heave: Language Teaching Publications.

Readers ‘ remarks

Elisabeth Boeck, Germany

From the lexical attack activities in the TRY subdivision I particularly found the piece MY BEST FRIEND KYLE a hoarded wealth trove of lexical points. The suggestion to foreground texts for lexical balls when showing them in category as a agency to sensitise pupils to the phenomena is, to my head, peculiarly effectual ; and I could conceive of, when it comes to reproduction, possibly it might be utile for the instructor to gap-read the text non in one spell but paragraph by paragraph for better keeping on the portion of the pupils.

Besides, in my experience, the value of the lexical attack is demonstrated attractively and convincingly by juxtaposing English and native linguistic communication looks. In that manner pupils realize that in most instances a word-for-word interlingual rendition wo n’t assist, when antecedently they possibly thought that it might make to catapult together a few words picked up from the dictionary. I like to state, when showing idiomatic phrases, standard looks, societal and spoken linguistic communication balls etc. “ That ‘s the manner native talkers typically say things. ”

And I remember Michael Lewis, in the class of a presentation which he gave here in Germany some old ages ago, stating this: “ Whenever person asks me “ why is that? ” – with mention to the construction of some linguistic communication point – I will reply: “ That ‘s how it is in English. ” – Time period! ”

Lexical Approach 2 – What does the lexical attack expression like?

Carlos Islam, The University of Maine

Ivor Timmis, Leeds Metropolitan University

This article looks at the theories of linguistic communication which form the foundations of the lexical attack to learning English.


The theory of larning


Language consciousness

About the Writers

Further Reading


The rules of the Lexical Approach have been around since Michael Lewis published ‘The Lexical Approach ‘ 10 old ages ago. It seems, nevertheless, that many instructors and research workers do non hold a clear thought of what the Lexical Approach really looks like in pattern.

In the first of our two THINK articles – Lexical attack 1 – we looked at how advocators of the Lexical Approach position linguistic communication. In this, our 2nd THINK article, we apply theories of linguistic communication acquisition to a Lexical Approach and depict what lexical lessons could look like.

We have besides produced two TRY pieces incorporating instruction stuffs for you to seek out in your ain schoolrooms. Your feedback, sentiments, remarks and suggestions would be more than welcome and used to organize the footing of a future article.

A theory of larning

In our first THINK article, Lexical Approach 1, we spoke about the huge figure of balls and collocations native talkers shop. Harmonizing to Lewis ( 1997, 2000 ) native talkers carry a pool of 100s of 1000s, and perchance 1000000s, of lexical balls in their caputs ready to pull upon in order to bring forth fluent, accurate and meaningful linguistic communication. Too many points for instructors and stuffs to show to scholars, ask scholars to rehearse and so bring forth even if you believed that a PPP methodological analysis – which has been denigrated in recent old ages – would take to the acquisition of these linguistic communication points.

How so are the scholars traveling to larn the lexical points they need? One of the unfavorable judgments levelled at the Lexical Approach is its deficiency of a elaborate acquisition theory. It is deserving observing, nevertheless, that Lewis ( 1993 ) argues the Lexical Approach is non a interruption with the Communicative Approach, but a development of it. He makes a helpful sum-up of the findings from first linguistic communication acquisition research which he thinks are relevant to 2nd linguistic communication acquisition:

Language is non learnt by larning single sounds and constructions and so uniting them, but by an increasing ability to interrupt down wholes into parts.

Grammar is acquired by a procedure of observation, hypothesis and experiment.

We can utilize whole phrases without understanding their component parts.

Acquisition is accelerated by contact with a sympathetic middleman with a higher degree of competency in the mark linguistic communication.

Schmitt ( 2000 ) makes a important part to a acquisition theory for the Lexical Approach by adding that ‘the head shops and processes these [ lexical ] balls as single wholes. ‘ The head is able to hive away big sums of information in long term memory but its short term capacity is much more limited, when bring forthing linguistic communication in address for illustration, so it is much more efficient for the encephalon to remember a ball of linguistic communication as if it were one piece of information. ‘Figment of his imaginativeness ‘ is, hence, recalled as one piece of information instead than four separate words.

In our position it is non possible, or even desirable, to try to ‘teach ‘ an limitless figure of lexical balls. But, it is good for linguistic communication scholars to derive exposure to lexical balls and to derive experience in analysing those balls in order to get down the procedure of internalization. We believe, like Lewis, that promoting scholars to notice linguistic communication, specifically lexical balls and collocations, is cardinal to any methodological analysis connected to a lexical position of linguistic communication.

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Batstone ( 1996 ) describes detecting as ‘a complex procedure: it involves the consumption both of significance and signifier, and it takes clip for scholars to come on from initial acknowledgment to the point where they can internalise the implicit in regulation ‘ . At the same clip Lewis ( 2000 ) argues that detecting balls and collocations is a necessary but non sufficient status for input to go consumption. If scholars are non directed to notice linguistic communication in a text at that place exists a danger that they will ‘see through the text ‘ and hence fail to accomplish consumption.

Looking back at the undertakings and activities in our TRY stuffs, you can see they are designed to advance noticing. Sometimes the noticing is guided by the instructor i.e. the instructor directs the pupils ‘ attending to lexical characteristics thought to be utile ; sometimes the noticing is ‘self-directed ‘ , i.e. the pupils themselves select characteristics they think will be utile for them. Sometimes the noticing is expressed, e.g. when points in a text are highlighted ; sometimes it is inexplicit e.g. when the instructor reformulates a pupil ‘s text ( see Thornbury 1997 for an account of how Reconstruction and reformulation can heighten noticing and practical suggestions for redeveloping ) .

Language Awareness

It is our averment that larning stuffs and instructors can outdo aid scholars achieve noticing of lexical balls by uniting a Language Awareness attack to larning with a Lexical Approach to depicting linguistic communication.

Tomlinson ( 2003 ) sums up the rules, aims and processs of a linguistic communication awareness attack as:

‘Paying deliberate attending to characteristics of linguistic communication in usage can assist scholars to detect the spread between their ain public presentation in the mark linguistic communication and the public presentation of adept users of the linguistic communication.

Detecting can give saliency to a characteristic, so that it becomes more noticeable in future input, so lending to the scholar ‘s psychological preparedness to get that characteristic.

The chief aim is to assist scholars to detect for themselves how linguistic communication is typically used so that they will observe the spreads and ‘achieve larning preparedness ‘ [ every bit good as independency from the instructor and instruction stuffs ] .

The first processs are normally experiential instead than analytical and purpose to affect the scholars in affectional interaction with a potentially piquant text. [ That is, scholars read a text, and respond with their ain positions and sentiments before analyzing the linguistic communication in the text or replying comprehension type inquiries. ]

Learners are subsequently encouraged to concentrate on a peculiar characteristic of the text, place cases of the characteristic, do finds and articulate generalisations about its usage. ‘

In a little research undertaking at The University of Maine, groups of pupils were exposed to stuffs ( see TRY 1 ) based on the rules and processs Tomlinson lineations. The noticing activities asked pupils to place, analyse and do generalizations about lexical balls and collocations.

The pupils involved in the research were surveyed after utilizing these stuffs and asked how utile and gratifying they found the stuffs.

All but one of the pupils said the stuffs were really utile and all the pupils reported the category was either really utile or utile.

All the pupils said the stuffs would assist them larn independently.

Over half the pupils thought the stuffs were utile for larning vocabulary.

All the pupils said they enjoyed the narratives.

The instructors said that the readings were ‘great ‘ , the pupils understood and could appreciate the stuffs relevancy for developing reading every bit good a productive accomplishments.

One instructor said he was non certain if doing the differentiation between different types of lexical balls was necessary.

We hope these THINK articles and TRY stuffs shine some visible radiation on what a Lexical Approach could look like in learning stuffs and supply thoughts of how it might look in the schoolroom.

About the writers

Carlos Islam teaches ESL and Applied Linguistics at the University of Maine. He is besides involved in stuffs composing undertakings, redacting Folio ( the diary of the Materials Development Association www.matsda.org.uk ) and linguistic communication acquisition research.

Ivor Timmis is Lecturer in Language Teaching and Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University. He teaches on the MA in Materials Development for Language Teachers, works on stuffs development consultancies and is besides involved in principal lingual research.

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