Abstract Prof.dr. Barbara Dancygier

Barbara Dancygier is Associate Professor at the Department of English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada). Her abstract for the SAD 2011 conference can be found here.

Speaking versus thinking: construction of minds and narrative discourse

Fictional narratives are centered around two goals: representation of events and representation of characters’ words and thoughts. The former issue has often been described in terms of techniques of narration, while the latter question ranges across a whole group of phenomena, often summarized through a discussion of the constructions of speech and thought representation. In the talk, I will question some of the distinctions that have been made and refocus the questions of speech and thought towards a general issue of the representation of characters’ mental processes (including perception, conceptualization, and various forms of discourse). In the discussion I will look at the constructions involved, and show some correlations between linguistic choices (grammatical as well as lexical) and the meanings that emerge through these choices.

To describe general ways in which texts represent characters’ minds, I will discuss two broad strategies deployed in narrative texts: viewpoint compression and speaking for thinking. The former makes it possible for the characters’ perceptions and experiential viewpoints to be presented as elements of narration. Generally, it explains the ways in which lower-level narrative elements participate in the construction of the overall story. The latter questions a common assumption that speech and thought constitute clearly delineated narrative constructions. Overall, I will show how the two narrative strategies proposed change our view of speech and thought representation constructions. Also, I will outline the ways in which such analytical tools, developed on the basis of blending theory, explicate constructional patterns and meaning emergence processes which constitute narrative discourse.

Last Modified: 09-05-2011