Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Aygen, Gulsat||Freedman, Reva

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Linguistics; Computer science


This study analyzed syntactic structures retrieved from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Specifically, the constituents and parts of speech within two types of text in the novel -- dialogue and descriptive/explanatory -- were examined, with the hypotheses that, between the dialogue and the descriptive texts within the narrative, one type would display longer syntactic structures and more embedded clauses, and that specific conjunctions occur more frequently within structures with these clauses. This study utilized natural language processing (NLP) to investigate syntactic length and frequency of parts of speech in the character dialogue and descriptive passages in this narrative. The hypotheses prove to be true, and I prove that Wilde's character dialogue provides simpler and smaller syntactic structures than the descriptive passages. The findings in this study illustrate the importance of context when studying linguistic features -- within a conversation, it may be a subconscious expectation that speakers will employ simpler constructions due to working memory (WM) load; however, when reading a descriptive passage within a written work, such limitations may not apply. The results of this study can enable future researchers to investigate linguistic components specific to an individual's written and oral speech patterns that may indicate linguistic-stylistic intricacies, unconscious conversational syntactic principles, and the process of clause embedding.


Advisors: Gulsat Aygen; Reva Freedman.||Committee members: Betty Birner.||Includes bibliographical references.


iii, 50 pages




Northern Illinois University

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