This paper reviews Louw’s (1993 and subsequent publications) deployment of reference corpora in the light of existing philosophical and linguistic milestones when it comes to the notion of the truthfulness of a proposition. Louw (William Ernest. 1993. Irony in the text or insincerity in the writer? The diagnostic potential of semantic prosodies. In Mona Baker, Gill Francis & Elena Tognini-Bonelli (eds.), Text and technology: In honour of John Sinclair, 152–176. Amsterdam: John Benjamins) resorts to reference corpora in order either to explicate a rhetorical device (in Louw 1993, that of irony) or to attempt to reveal the true attitude of the speaker to his/her own proposition (including instances of insincerity). Using two methods (co-selection and wildcarding), an author’s collocational patterns in context are checked against those in the reference corpus, also in context. The frequent lexical variables of grammar strings are taken to represent that string’s corpus-derived subtext. Recently, Louw’s Contextual Prosodic Theory (CPT) has revealed the mechanism of prospection, whereby the grammatical pattern in the first line of a poem anticipates by its most frequent lexical collocates the themes in the remainder of the poem (Louw, Bill & Milojkovic, Marija. 2016. Corpus stylistics as contextual prosodic theory and subtext, 176–183. Amsterdam: John Benjamins). The philosophical background of Louw’s CPT is the works of Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein (Louw, William Ernest. 2010a. Collocation as instrumentation for meaning: A scientific fact. In Willie van Peer, Vander Viana & Sonia Zyngier (eds.), Literary education and digital learning: methods and technologies for humanities studies, 79–101. Hershey, PA: IGI Global and subsequent works) and could be said to be in need of further explanation and illustration. The paper discusses Louw’s take on insincerity (1993) as the speaker’s attitude to the truthfulness of her own statement from the point of view of Frege’s Sinn/Bedeutung distinction, Russell’s logical language, and Wittgenstein’s attitude to the relationship between language and reality. Since prospection may be considered objective proof of the effectiveness of Louw’s approach, an instance of prospection from a poem by Brodsky is used to show that Wittgenstein’s concern for the truthfulness of propositions may be viewed as both the guarantor and the beneficiary of Louw’s views. Additionally, the paper presents an example of prospection in the first line of a novel, Don DeLillo’s White Noise. However, other grammatical patterns in the passage studied in this paper do not contain deviations from the corpus norm, which conforms to the existing commentary on DeLillo in the field of literary criticism. The paper concludes by stating that reference corpora used inductively (Louw, William Ernest. 2017. Uneasy humour as discovery: Collocation and empathy as Whewellian consilience. Studying Humour: International Journal 4) may shed light on the speaker’s attitude to the truthfulness of their own statement.
This article establishes the theoretical bases for a more direct and detailed exploration of fictional minds in cognitive stylistics. This discipline usually analyzes narrative discourse in terms of how readers process language and conceptualize narrative meaning, treating literary language more or less explicitly as a window into readers’ mental experiences. However, it is also possible to treat literary language as a window into characters’ minds, which, in spite of their obvious fictionality, could enhance the potential for cognitive linguistic analysis to inform our understanding of the human mind and consciousness more generally. This article explores the nature of linguistic meaning in different speech and thought presentation techniques primarily through the lens of Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar, ultimately prioritizing the representational semantics of Free Indirect Thought. It proposes a more precise understanding of the concept of ‘conceptualizer’ which would validate a type of mind style analysis that is more narrowly focused on illuminating the underlying mental activity of fictional characters instead of readers. It demonstrates this type of focus with a brief analysis of a passage from Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend.
A fundamental assumption in relevance theory is that human cognition has evolved in the direction of increased efficiency and, as such, tends, as Sperber and Wilson (Relevance: Communication and cognition, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995: 38–46, 260–66) put it in their cognitive principle, to be naturally geared towards the maximisation of relevance. The cognitive principle inter alia explains the selectivity of human agency and attention: for an input to merit the attention of the human cognitive system, it must seem relevant enough to be worth attending to. But what makes an input relevant? The relevance-theoretic account proposes that relevance for an individual organism at any specific time involves a balancing of mental effort and a particular type of worthwhile modifications, cognitive effects, that are representational in nature and amount to improvements in knowledge. The type of relevance yielded by such effects could be described as a cognitive type of relevance. However, inputs such as artistic stimuli – including literary ones – invite us to widen the scope of the causal engineering behind the selective directedness of our mental lives. Artistic stimuli merit the attention of the human cognitive system at various time-scales (momentary, developmental, and evolutionary). Following Kolaiti (The limits of expression: Language, literature, mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019: 76–94) and drawing on neuroscientific evidence from the last 25 years, I will make tentative suggestions that artistic stimuli may also yield non-representational worthwhile modifications or effects. My discussion focuses on one such type of effects involving the human perceptual system: perceptual effects. Being partly or wholly embodied, perceptual effects could extend the machinery of relevance theory in an embodied direction and widen its interdisciplinary implications.
This article explores hitherto unexplored complexities in the positioning of the Modernist narrator. Taking as a starting point Banfield’s ‘empty centre’ technique, the article re-evaluates the difficulties posed by this phenomenon and develops a more thorough and a sounder understanding of ‘the empty centre’. Some of the evidence for a new theory of ‘empty centre’ passages comes from pragmatics and naturally occurring discourse data. In particular, an investigation of the impersonal uses of generic pronouns, which Monika Fludernik (1993. The fictions of language and the languages of fiction: The linguistic representation of speech and consciousness. London: Routledge; 1996. Towards a natural narratology. London: Routledge) had established as key to our understanding of the technique, sheds new light on the nature of the ‘empty centre’ technique and leads to a new understanding of the status of the Modernist narrator. I propose that it is most plausible that the reader will naturalise examples of ‘the empty centre’ as stemming from the narrator. I also argue that we need to construct a new understanding of the status of the Modernist narrator which takes into account some of the central tenets of the Modernist aesthetic, those concerning subjectivity and the possibility of objectivity. Thus, what emerges from the analysis is that the self, and the narratorial figure by extension, can no longer be endowed with the power of omniscience. I will develop my theoretical explanation of ‘the empty centre’ and the positioning of the narrator in Modernist fiction with reference to a variety of examples, mainly drawn from Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf.
This paper examines the tragic sense permeating ancient Greek drama as a product of a special type of conceptual integration between two antithetic mental spaces, which prompts the simultaneous generation of two mutually exclusive emergent structures. The special tragic sense generated carries along the inferences of two equally impossible situations. The key-difference between this type of blend and other counterfactuals is argued to be found in the lack of reference scenario in the blend. In the context of theatrical enactment, the realisation of this special type of antithetic blend is based on the frame-clash between conceived and enacted space, matched by the emotions of pity and fear, respectively. The feeling of catharsis that follows the end of the play is analysed as a second level blend within the emergent structure that leads to the restoration of a single common space of cognitive compatibility between actors and audience.