The Language of Stories : A Cognitive Approach Volume 0 by Barbara Dancygier

By Barbara Dancygier

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Example text

Setting the case of realism in fiction aside, genres departing from ‘realism’ also are real to a degree. Even a cursory look at the ‘ultimately’ fictional genre of science fiction shows that while trying to construct storyworlds as remote from planet Earth as they can, authors cannot but rely on our reality in many of its aspects. At the other end of the spectrum, texts which are treated as novels but have been described (by their authors as well) as primarily autobiographical are versions of actual happenings.

It is clear even from this example that mental spaces are constructs of varying complexity (from tiredness to the content of an entire book), attributable to various conceptualizers (here, the speaker or the hearer), and including mental representations of concrete objects, conversational moves, opinions, et cetera. It is often asked whether it is possible to confirm the presence of mental spaces in the brain, but the question seems to misconstrue the usefulness of the concept. ), we could at best capture some of the brain structure relevant to the content of the conversation, but apparently not the thought processes prompted by the discourse.

This is, I think, what Tomasello talks about when treating narrative as an engine to produce more complex linguistic constructions. These structures not only maintain temporal, referential or viewpoint links, but allow the construction of narrative meaning to happen. The greater part of this book is devoted to revealing the various ways in which narratives perform this task. It is important to be specific about how narrative context deviates from the default communicative context. First, ordinary communication features two interlocutors, the speaker (I) and the hearer (you), who, in the most standard set-up, have visual and aural access to each other and exchange their deictic roles in every turn of the conversation.

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