The concept of the thematic structure can be applied to various parts of the communication process; it can be seen in studies of both literature as well as simple human conversation. This is due to the fact that the thematic structure of a phrase or sentence - or of an entire piece of text - plays a very significant role in how a person understands what is being said. Thematic structures are highly dependent upon one's own knowledge, experiences, and perceptions of the world. Children who do not yet understand the concept of sarcasm and satire might have a difficult time fully understanding a show like "Saturday Night Live," while adults with this existing knowledge can find it rather enjoyable.
When considering the various applications of linguistic principles, the incorporation of thematic structures is essential to computational linguistics. In order for a form of artificial intelligence to fully understand something that is said - and thus be able to respond appropriately - it needs to understand the subtleties of our language. Elements such as tone, word placement, and the use of emphasis can each make for a very different sentence. A sentence as simple as "I don't think so," can mean something very different if the emphasis is placed on either of the first three words; it can also be interpreted differently based on the amount of time it takes a person to complete the sentence. By being able to identify and understand these elements, one can obtain the thematic structure of what is being said. This allows for a more complete understanding, as the external components of the communication are also being taken into account.
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