Mental models and discourse

Journal of Semantics 1 (3-4):371-386 (1982)


In this paper I take the view that using language amounts to constructing ‘mental models’. Accordingly, semantics has to explain the structure of these mental models and the principles by which people construct them. The system proposed, which was developed jointly with Nigel Shadbolt, is called S-R Semantics. Among the fundamental features of the system is a functional distinction drawn between two sorts of mental object: epistemic objects, which are supposed to model the long-term established knowledge a processor brings to a discourse, and discourse objects, which model the objects introduced into a discourse and the predications made about them. The system is used to solve a number of problems which come up in connection with some uses of singular indefinite noun phrases, and disputes

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