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Paul Werth, Text Worlds: Representing conceptual space in discourse

Reviews JLS 31­1 Paul Werth (1999). Text Worlds: Representing conceptual space in discourse. New York: Longman, xvii, 363pp. Paul Werth's project is to produce a theory of how we manage to see the world of texts through reading their sentences. This is a complex work, heavily detailed, and but for the author's untimely death, might well have been supplied with a glossary of the central terms and theses deployed in the analysis. Crucial to the project is the working definition of an utterance, which is a sentence in a real context of use which involves more what is explicitly stated. For Werth, we speak and write in discourses, and a central notion, which at least in part derives from the field of artificial intelligence, is that of a conceptual or cognitive space. Two main questions are at issue: how we make sense of utterances, and how we put together complex utterances to express particular concepts. His fundamental answer is that we build mental constructs or what he calls text worlds. Indeed the traditional domains of semantics and pragmatics require the notion of "stacked" cognitive spaces or "mental worlds." Werth criticises previous approaches to discourse inspired by the Chomskian http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Literary Semantics de Gruyter
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