Brian Nolan


This paper reviews the theory of mental spaces as expounded by Fauconnier (1994). In this work he posits a theory in which reference has a structural dimension. Within the theory, this structure is represented using spaces, connectors across the spaces and some general principles that are found to apply. The complexity lies in the interaction between the principles and in the contextual structures that feed into the principles for interpretation. Brugman, in her 1996 paper, makes use of insights from mental spaces theory to conduct an analysis of HAVE-constructions. She notes that Fauconnier has “elaborated a theory of partial possible worlds which speakers construct when talking/hearing about the entities and relations of perceived or imagined worlds. These partial models, called Mental Spaces, are not specifically linguistic in nature. Rather they are a manifestation of general cognitive abilities. Mental spaces may be representations of the speaker’s reality, or may be fictional or intensional, or may reflect past or future states of the ‘real’ world.”