David J. Bryant (1992) Lexical Contributions to Spatial Representation . Psycoloquy: 3(51) Space (9)
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Psycoloquy 3(51): Lexical Contributions to Spatial Representation

Reply to Brugman on Bryant on Space

David J. Bryant
Department of Psychology, 125 NI
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 437-3548



I agree with Brugman's general comment that the lexical/grammatical level is a primary determinant of the discourse level, and so must be a determinant of the input to the spatial representation system (SRS). Further, I agree with Brugman's argument about the importance of the lexical level in determining the discourse level. Spatial information carried in lexical items, especially spatial prepositions, can directly influence the formation of mental spatial models by the SRS. I examine this hypothesis in terms of the information necessary to build a spatial model in the SRS. Brugman also asks why it was assumed that discourse is represented propositionally by the language system. My response to Brugman's question is to admit that the original assumption is somewhat arbitrary. The basis for the assumption was an effort to address the longstanding debate in psychology over propositional and mental-model representations. If spatial terms can call up image schemas that describe geometric properties of the environment, the schemas can be used to fill in many of the details left out of discourse.


Spacial representation, spacial models, cognitive maps, linguistic structure.