The Semantics-Pragmatics of Route Directions by Jos Vicente Santos Mendes

The Semantics-Pragmatics of Route Directions

Jos Vicente Santos Mendes
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Have you ever asked for directions to reach an unknown destination? Or instead, have you ever given path descriptions to orient people in an unfamiliar environment? This is one of the most basic overlap areas between spatial reasoning and language use. How in the world do people conceive of such a text genre, and what are all the conceptual and verbal processes involved in understanding/producing, in a word construeing this very specific subdomain of communicative competence? The present doctoral dissertation advocates that the complex dynamics at stake when Germans have to meet this challenge encompasses mental-linguistic activities that can be traced back to a three-faceted model: a knowledge dimension is responsible for creating a cognitive map to picture the scenery along and the line linking source and goal. A discourse facet deals with a string of speech bubbles to organize in language the mental landscape highlighted by the cognitive map at hand. And a virtual dialog model is in charge of establishing a partnership uniting the writer of the wayfinding instructions and her reader to agree on a perspective taking to handle their cooperation in absentia fruitfully enough.

Author Biography

BA in Portuguese and English (Juiz de Fora Federal Univ., BRA)
MA in Theoretical Linguistics (Sophia Univ. Tokyo, JAP)
PhD in Cognitive Linguistics (Hamburg Univ. GER)
The author has worked in undergrad & grad programs of several Federal Universities in his home country and is currently on a tenure track post at Rio Grande do Norte State Univ. BRA

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The Semantics-Pragmatics of Route Directions