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Style in Fiction Symposium, 11 th March 2006 Mind Style 25 years on. Elena Semino Lancaster University. Structure of talk. Mind style in Style in Fiction Fictional minds in contemporary narratology Cognitive stylistics and mind style Pragmatics and mind style
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Cumulatively, consistent structural options, agreeing in cutting the presented world to one pattern or another, give rise to an impression of a world-view, what I shall call a “mind style”.’ (Leech and Short 1981: 188)
‘Characters’ mind styles are more readily discernible as odd: we accept quite easily that a character might have a faulty or limited view of things, and of course we often have the mind styles of other characters as a comparative yardstick.’ (Leech and Short 1981: 202)
‘Experientiality in narrative as reflected in narrativity can therefore be said to combine a number of cognitively relevant factors, most importantly those of the presence of a human protagonist and her experience of events as they impinge on her situation and activities.’
‘[S]ince humans are conscious human beings, (narrative) experientiality always implies – and sometimes emphatically foregrounds- the protagonist’s consciousness.’ (Fludernik 1996: 30)
‘My thesis is a fundamental one: narrative fiction is, in essence, the presentation of fictional mental functioning. [. . .] If I am right, then it follows that the study of the novel is the study of fictional mental functioning and also that the task of the theorist is to make explicit the various means by which this phenomenon is studied and analyzed.’ (Palmer 2004: 5)
‘The reader uses existing or prestored knowledge of other minds in the actual world in order to process the emergent knowledge that is supplied by fictional-minds presentation.’ (Palmer 2004: 175)
‘There is no guarantee that individual CMF (Cognitive Mental Functioning) as portrayed in a given fictional narrative will possess any psychological reality, nor is it required to do so. Nonetheless, cognitive-science concepts and categories, including the overall scheme of the basic areas of information processing and their sequence, will in all probability be applicable to the fictional individuals portrayed in literary narratives.’ (Margolin 2003: 274)
‘What is probably even more significant is the preference of much literature for nonstandard forms of cognitive functioning, be they rare or marginal, deviant, or involving a failure, breakdown, or lack of standard patterns.’
‘But standard case or deviation according to whom? As it turns out, (almost) all writers of fiction base their portrayal of mental functioning on one version or another of what cognitivists term ‘folk psychology’, that is a socially constructed and shared common-sense set of general views […].’
‘It is a shared model of this kind that enables the artist to portray the mental functioning of a character in a way which would make that character be considered standard or exceptional by a readership. (Margolin 2003: 287)
‘The fictional presentation of cognitive mechanisms in action, especially of their own breakdown and failure, is itself a powerful cognitive tool which may make us aware of actual cognitive mechanisms, and, more specifically, of our own mental functioning.’ (Margolin 2003: 278)
The dead tree by Lok’s ear acquired a voice.
His ears twitched and he turned to the tree. By his face there had grown a twig: a twig that smelt of other, and of goose, and of the bitter berries that Lok’s stomach told him he must not eat. The twig had a white bone at the end. There were hooks in the bone and sticky brown stuff hung in the crooks. His nose examined this stuff and did not like it.
(see also Bockting 1994 for an analysis)
The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange items into different groups. Of course one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step; otherwise, you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do few things at once than too many. In the short run it may not seem important but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first, the whole procedure may seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity of this task in the near future, but then, one can never tell. After the procedure is completed one arranges the material into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will have to be repeated. However, that is part of life.
(Bransford and Johnson 1972: 722)
(see Semino and Swindlehurst 1996)
‘Bitzer,’ said Mr Gradgrind, broken down, and miserably submissive to him, ‘have you a heart?’
‘The circulation, sir,’ returned Bitzer, smiling at the oddity of the question, ‘couldn’t be carried on without one. No man, sir, acquainted with the facts established by Harvey relating to the circulation of the blood, can doubt that I have a heart.’
‘Lappin, Lappin, King Lappin,’ she repeated. It seemed to suit him exactly; he was not Ernest, he was King Lappin. Why? She did not know.
‘A woman hare,’ he added.
‘Ah, Lapinova,’ Rosalind murmured.
‘Is that what she’s called?’ said Ernest—‘the real Rosalind?’ He looked at her. He felt very much in love with her.
‘Well, what’s up now?’ he asked briskly, warming his hands at the fire.
‘It’s Lapinova . . .’ she faltered, glancing wildly at him out of her great startled eyes. ‘She’s gone, Ernest. I’ve lost her!’
Ernest frowned. He pressed his lips tight together. […] ‘Yes,’ he said at length. ‘Poor Lapinova. . .’ He straightened his tie at the looking–glass over the mantelpiece.
‘Caught in a trap,’ he said, ‘killed,’ and sat down and read the newspaper.
So that was the end of that marriage.
(see Semino 2006)
The policewoman put her arms round Mrs Shears and led her back towards the house.
I lifted my head off the grass.
The policeman squatted down beside me and said, ‘Would you like to tell me what’s going on here, young man?’
I sat up and said, ‘The dog is dead.’
‘I’d got that far,’ he said.
I said, ‘I think someone killed the dog.’
‘How old are you?’ he asked.
I replied, ‘I am 15 years and 3 months and 2 days.
‘A speaker who, with no intention of generating an implicature and with no intention of deceiving, fails to observe a maxim is said to “infringe” the maxim. […] This type of non-observance could occur because the speaker has an imperfect command of the language (a young child or a foreign learner), because the speaker’s performance is impaired in some way (nervousness, drunkenness, excitement), because of some cognitive impairment, or simply because the speaker is constitutionally incapable of speaking clearly, to the point, etc.’ (Thomas 1995: 74)
Study of (the textual projection of) fictional minds, including: