Text World Theory

Text World Theory: An Introduction

Joanna Gavins
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Text World Theory
    Book Description:

    Text World Theory is a cognitive model of all human discourse processing. In this introductory textbook, Joanna Gavins sets out a usable framework for understanding mental representations. Text World Theory is explained using naturally occurring texts and real situations, including literary works, advertising discourse, the language of lonely hearts, horoscopes, route directions, cookery books and song lyrics. The book will therefore enable students, teachers and researchers to make practical use of the text-world framework in a wide range of linguistic and literary contexts.Features*An accessible and enabling course book which includes suggestions for exploration and further reading.*Draws on linguistics, cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, poetics and stylistics, and will be attractive to students and researchers working in all of these disciplines.*Each chapter provides a reader-friendly introduction to an aspect of Text World Theory and includes at least two practical applications of these ideas to real discourse examples.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2990-9
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. List of figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    Joanna Gavins
  5. CHAPTER 1 Conceptualising Language
    (pp. 1-17)

    It is highly unlikely that your first intention when opening this book was to find yourself an old cockerel with whom to settle down in Dorset. Nevertheless, having now read his advertisement, you will have formed in your mind a particular impression of this lonely heart seeking a hen. Likewise, the first intention of Old Cockerel (let us call him) is unlikely to have been to make contact with the readers of Text World Theory: An Introduction. Nevertheless, he has succeeded in communicating, however indirectly, a picture of his needs to you. In the limited number of words available to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Participating in Discourse
    (pp. 18-34)

    Text World Theory begins its exploration of communication and the mind at the immediate level of discourse production and reception. In keeping with its cognitivist principles, it attributes primacy to the human experience of language and takes the face-to-face interaction between living, thinking human beings as the prototype for all other aspects of communication and cognition. The content of this interactivity, as well as the context surrounding it, is the subject matter of the discourse-world level of Text World Theory. This chapter examines the associated elements which make up a discourse-world: from the expectations and constraints which govern communicative behaviour...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Scenes
    (pp. 35-52)

    In Chapter 2 we saw how the participants in a discourse-world are wilfully engaged in an act of communication which is greatly dependent on various kinds of knowledge. We saw how different aspects of discourse require us to access different areas of our perceptual, linguistic, experiential and cultural knowledge in a process which is essentially text-driven. Our existing knowledge frames enable us to conceptualise and understand discourse and we use them as the basis for the mental representations we create of the language we encounter. This chapter examines how the process of constructing these mental representations, or text-worlds, is facilitated....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Processes
    (pp. 53-72)

    This chapter explores how text-worlds develop in the human mind. Once the spatial and temporal parameters of a text-world have been established by the world-building elements of the discourse, how does that text-world evolve and progress? What kinds of textual features cause a text-world to advance and in what ways? This chapter is particularly concerned with how we conceptualise the actions, events and other processes described in a discourse. The relationships which exist between these discourse elements and the background of world-builders against which they take place are also explored. Three different reports of a football match taken from three...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Layers
    (pp. 73-90)

    In Chapter 3 we saw how some texts require multiple mental representations to be constructed in the minds of the discourse participants. The world-switches created by alternations in the deictic parameters of a text-world were considered in an introductory analysis of the shifts in time and space contained within an extract of literary narrative. This chapter examines multiple world-creation in more detail and looks in particular at the conceptual processes which enable us to manage several text-worlds in our minds at once. The relationship between the discourse-world and the text-world is also revisited over the coming pages. Specifically, the conceptual...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Attitudes
    (pp. 91-108)

    This chapter explores the text-worlds created by a range of expressions of attitude in discourse. Over the course of the next few chapters, the processes by which readers and hearers conceptualise the varying attitudes of writers and speakers will be examined in relation to a wide range of texts. To begin, this chapter looks at the ways in which wishes, wants and desires are communicated in the discourse-world and the nature of the resulting text-worlds their expression creates. The glamorous fantasy worlds contained in an interview from a best-selling celebrity magazine are analysed in order to explore the discourse features...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Distances
    (pp. 109-125)

    This chapter continues the examination begun in Chapter 6 of the text-worlds which relate to remote or unrealised situations. As we have already seen in the preceding analysis of instructive and informative discourses, the creation of imaginary states of affairs is not confined to literary fiction alone, but is a common feature of all types of communication in the everyday world. In Chapter 6 we saw how expressions of unfulfilled wishes and desires trigger the creation of discrete text-worlds with their own world-building and function-advancing elements. Such boulomaic and deontic modal-worlds, whether they originate in the discourse-world or in a...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Narratives
    (pp. 126-145)

    Over the course of the last three chapters,we have looked in some detail at modalworlds in their various forms. We have seen that these worlds occur for one of three reasons in discourse. Firstly, the use of boulomaic modality, including any description of wishes, desires or fantasies, will generate a boulomaic modal-world in the minds of the discourse participants. Secondly, the expression of any degree of obligation, from permission through to requirement, will generate a deontic modal-world. Finally, epistemic modal-worlds occur whenever some form of epistemic commitment is expressed in discourse. In Chapter 7, we saw that this category of...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Double-vision
    (pp. 146-164)

    This is the final chapter in this book to explain a specific aspect of the Text World Theory framework, before Chapter 10 moves on to explore some of the directions the text-world approach to discourse study as a whole might take in the future. The discussion in the present chapter concerns the conceptualisation of a particular linguistic and cognitive phenomenon: metaphor. Metaphor has received an enormous amount of attention from cognitive linguists and psychologists in recent years. Indeed, a new understanding of the conceptual properties of metaphor was the main driving force behind the cognitive revolution in linguistics from the...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Futures
    (pp. 165-177)

    The dynamism of Text World Theory is already continuing beyond the pages of this book, with new applications to diverse discourses being readily under-taken by the next generation of text-world researchers. The version of Text World Theory which has been presented over the course of the preceding chapters is by no means conclusive or absolute. I have introduced the basic mechanics of the text-world framework and reported some of the results of my own journey of discovery so far, but that journey is in no way at an end. The directions in which the exploration of human mental representation will...

  15. References
    (pp. 178-188)
  16. Index
    (pp. 189-198)