A text-world account of temporal world-building strategies in Spanish and English

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Text World Theory (Werth 1999; Gavins 2007) is a cognitive stylistic model that aims to describe how discourse participants create a mental representation of language in use. First designed for the analysis of individual texts, this chapter demonstrates how it can also be used in the cross-linguistic analysis of narrative strategies. This chapter is based on a wider research project which applied Text World Theory to a comparable corpus of ‘frog story’ narratives revealing differences between the ways in which Spanish and English speakers construct the ‘same’ narrative text-world. The focus here is on the narrators’ temporal world-­building strategies only, as choices in tense were fundamental in laying the foundations for other world-building strategies. The results reveal interesting cross-­linguistic and dialectal differences in temporal world-building strategies and point to uses of tenses for non-temporal means.


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