Presentation on theme: "Egocentricals: dialogical and narrative register of interpretation Elena PADUCHEVA Russian Acedemy of Sciences, Moscow Helsinki."— Presentation transcript:
Egocentricals: dialogical and narrative register of interpretation Elena PADUCHEVA Russian Acedemy of Sciences, Moscow Helsinki
1. Egocentricals As is said in Lyons 1978: 637, "there is much in the structure of languages that can only be explained on the assumption that they have developed for communication in face-to-face interaction". In fact, language abounds in egocentric elements (= egocentricals), i.e. words and categories whose meaning implies the speaker. I mean not only such words as I, you, here, now, which are called deictic, but also such words as perhaps, unfortunately; and such grammatical categories as tense and mood (for example, he loved, past tense, implies he doesnt love now).
But the full-fledged speaker is present only in the context of a canonical communicative situation – in a dialogue, for instance. While language is also used in non-canonical communicative situations. An example of a radically non-canonical communicative situation is narrative. No speaker, no addressee, no common field of vision – no opportunity for here or now, for they presuppose the common place and time for the speaker and the addressee.
2. Registers of interpretation: dialogue and narrative Still egocentricals ARE used in narrative, but with a different interpretation: each type of communicative situation has its own register of interpretation corresponding to it. I want to attract attention to the difference between dialogical (or speech) register and narrative register of interpretation.
It is Emile Benveniste (Benveniste 1971) who stands at the origin of this area of investigation in linguistics. Benveniste introduced the distinction between plan de discours and plan de récit. For example, he identified the French verbal form passé simple as belonging exclusively to the narrative discourse. On the contrary, passé composé is used primarily in dialogical discourse and has predominantly deictic semantics.
Russian has no special tenses for different registers. But Russian grammatical tense has radically different interpretations in different registers. (1) a. Kto sidel na moem malenkom stulchike i slomal ego? (Tolstoy. Three bears) who has been sitting on my little chair and broke it right through? [dialogue; precedence] b. Staraja grafinja sidela v svoej ubornoj pered zerkalom; tri devuški okruzhali ee. (Pushkin. The queen of spades) the old countess was sitting in her room before the mirror; three young girls surrounded her [narrative; synchronicity]
Sentence (1a) is interpreted in the dialogical register – in fact, it is a question; the form of the past tense expresses precedence (to the moment of speech). While in (1b), in a narrative, the same form expresses synchronicity (with the current moment of the text).
Benveniste says: «Language is designed in such a way that it allows each speaker to appropriate the language as a whole». In fact, in a dialogical discourse every utterance has the speaker. The speaker takes part in interpretation of all egocentric words and categories: they are oriented towards the speaker. But in a narrative there is no speaker. The role of the speaker is performed partly by a character, partly by the narrator. This corresponds to the difference between internal vs. external point of view of Uspenskij 1970.
Examples from a narrative (M.Bulgakov. Master and Margarita) (2) a. Let me have a look.' Woland stretched out his hand palm uppermost. 'Unfortunately I cannot show it to you, ' replied the master, 'because I burned it in my stove.' [the speaker is the subject of regret] b. She must either forget him or die herself. Her present existence was intolerable. She had to forget him at all costs. But unfortunately he was not a man one could forget. [Margarita is the subject of regret]
I prefer the term register of interpretation to Benvenistes term type of discourse (or type of text). In fact, register can change in the course of one and the same text. Take Pasternaks Marburg. It begins in the narrative register; but the word sejchas now can have the meaning a moment ago only in the dialogical register. Я вздрагивал [nr]. Я загорался и гас [nr]. Я трясся [nr]. Я сделал сейчас предложенье [dr], Но поздно. Я сдрейфил, и вот мне отказ.
3. Hypotactic register The third important type of non-canonical communicative situation is hypotaxis. In a syntactically subordinate clause, be it even a speech discourse, it is not the speaker who is the point of orientation for egocentricals. Hypotactic projection takes place – the role of the speaker is performed by the subject of the matrix sentence. (2c) 'THEY have read your novel, ' said Woland, turning to the master, ' and THEY can only say that unfortunately it is not finished.
Egocentricals can be treated as words with an implicit argument. For example, Russian edva li hardly its true has an implicit argument corresponding to the person in doubt, and in (3a) it refers to the speaker of the utterance; but in a hypotactic context it is the subject of the matrix clause who appropriats the right for the egocentrical and is thus the owner of the doubt: (3) a. John will hardly return = the speaker doubts that John will return. b. Zina believes that John will hardly return = Zina doubts that John will return.
The main linguistic classes of egocentricals: deictic words (such as I, you, here. now, this, that; Russian von, vot), deictic grammatical categories (such as tense); markers of indefiniteness (some song ); markers of modality (in particular, parenthetical words, such as unfortunately, certainly); evaluation words and expressives (tasty, awful) ; illocutive and metatextual markers (Ona taki blondinka), razve and neuzheli; to say the truth; dialogical reactions (Yes, No, v samom dele = indeed, = I agree with you), etc.
4. Primary and secondary egocentricals in traditional narrative Egocentricals are divided into primary and secondary ones (Paducheva 1996: 265). Primary egocentricals can convey their meaning only in the context of a canonical communicative situation; they can only have the speaker as their point of orientation. In narrative (more precisely, in traditional narrative) they are either avoided or used with a different meaning, as in example (1b) with the old countess.
For secondary egocentricals the speaker is not the unique possible point of orientation; they can be interpreted both in dialogical and narrative /hypotactical register and, thus, oriented towards subjects other than the speaker. (4) a. Masha wants to sing kakuju-to song = I dont know, which [kakuju-to is oriented towards the speaker: the speaker is the subject of ignorance, Masha should know what she wants]; b. Masha says that she saw kakuju-to note on the table [the subject of ignorance is Masha].
As for primary egocentricals, an impeccable example was discovered, at the dawn of the modern theory of narrative, by V.V.Vinogradov in Pushkins The queen of spades. At the end of the first chapter, the character, Tomskij, says: (5a) It's bed-time, though; its already a quarter to six. And the next sentence of the narrative is: (5b) V samom dele, it was already beginning to dawn. [v samom dele = I agree with you]
Vinogradovs comment to this passage: «At the end of the first chapter a barefaced descent of the author into the portrayed world takes place». (Vinogradovs term was the author, because the term narrator was not yet invented at the time.) In fact, this fragment looks like a dialogue of the narrator with the character. Still the narrator is a legal owner of primary egocentricals, so The Queen of spades is a traditional narrative.
One example of how secondary egocenricals can be exploited in traditional narrative. Special effect in Chekhovs story «Teacher of literature » (1889). The first sentence of the story sounds like this: (6) Poslyshalsja stuk loshadinyx kopyt o brevenchatyj pol; literally, there was heard the rattle of horses' hooves on the logs of the floor Vse eto byli prevosxodnye i dorogie loshadi these were excellent and expensive horses.
The beginning prepares us to the presence of some consciousness off stage, and it is only later that this subject of consciousness (e.g. of perception, evaluation, etc.) is presented to the reader: (7) Nikitin zametil. Chto, kogda sadilis na loshadej I potom vyexali na ulicu, Manjusja pochemu-to obrashchala vnimanie tolko na nego odnogo. In this example secondary egocentricals are interpreted in the narrative register, i.e. they are oriented towards the character, and this is an accepted norm in traditional narrative.
5. Free indirect discourse as a special register of interpretation for egocentricals Now we can approach non-traditional narrative, namely, free indirect discourse (FID). As is rightly said in Tammi 2003, FID cannot be defined on the syntactic level, as was suggested earlier in Banfield 1982; in fact, sentence (8) is almost ungrammatical: (8) Where were her drawings now? But sentences in a FID-type narrative can be grammatically flawless.
The definition that seems to be appropriate is: FID is a type of discourse where primary egocentricals can be oriented towards the character – instead of being oriented towards the narrator, who is the legal representative of the speaker in narrative. Some examples of how primary egocentricals are used in FID.
Example 1. Grammatical tense Grammatical tense is traditionally oriented towards the narrator, who is the witness of the events but presents them to the reader as if they took place in the past. FID makes it possible to, temporarily, transfer the category of tense into the ownership of the character, so that present tense would mark the present moment of the character. In the following fragment I marked in bold those verbs that in Russian have the form of the present tense – in English translation Tolstoys artistic device was neglected.
(9) she felt with joy that in the plight in which she found herself she has a support, quite apart from her relation to her husband or to Vronsky. This support was her son. In whatever position she might be placed, she can not lose her son. she can not leave her son. She has an aim in life. And she must act; act to secure this relation to her son, so that he might not be taken from her. She must take her son and go away. Here is the one thing she has to do now. (Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. Part 3, Ch. 15)
This is the present of the character. Grammatical tense, which is a primary egocentric, has personal interpretation. Present tense denotes the present moment, as in the dialogical register. But in a true dialogue the form of the present tense denotes the present moment of the speaker, i.e. of the first person, while in FID it denotes the present moment of the third person. Thus, FID presents a special register of interpretation of egocentricals, different both from dialogue and from traditional narrative.
Example 2. Indicative modality I consider it to be a discovery in the theory of narrative that indicative modality (= indicative mood) may also have personal interpretation in FID. In fact, modality is a primary egocentrical and in a canonic communicative situation it requires a full- fledged speaker as its point of orientation.
The very fact that indicative mood has an implied subject until recently remained unnoticed. That an oblique mood has an implied subject is obvious; e.g., optative presupposes the subject of will: Byl by sejchas zhiv Saxarov If only Saxarov would have been alive. Now, indicative modality also has its subject: the speaker bears responsibility for his/her statement – it is called epistemic obligation. Cf. an example that demonstrates Moores paradox: *Mary is pretty but I dont believe it.
Indicative mood is a primary egocentrical, and in traditional narrative the narrator is the subject of epistemic obligation: he bears responsibility for what is said. Now, in FID indicative mood, as well as other primary egocentricals, may be appropriated by the character – who has the right to make mistakes.
(10) Never before had a day been passed in quarrel. Today was the first time. And this was not a quarrel. It was the open acknowledgment of complete coldness. Was it possible to glance at her as he had glanced when he came into the room for the guarantee? to look at her, see her heart was breaking with despair, and go out without a word with that face of callous composure? He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because he loved another woman that was clear. (Tolstoy. Anna Karenina. Part 3, Ch. 26)
Sentence He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because he loved another woman could have made the reader think that Vronsky had another woman. In fact, the reader might have forgotten that the whole paragraph is the description of Annas state of consciousness, not of the real state of affairs. By some other author it might have been used as a device. But not by Tolstoy. The paragraph ends with the phrase it was clear. Now, clear implies the subject of consciousness – clear to whom? And this subject is, definitely, Anna. Thus, we understand that Vronskys another woman is not a fact but Annas imagination.
Example 3 (from Tammi 2003) Indicative mood appropriated by the character in FID can be a device used in order to mislead the reader. (11) He [Frank Churchill] stopped again, rose again, and seemed quite embarrassed. – He was more in love with her than Emma had supposed. (Jane Austin. Emma) The second sentence conveys the impression of Emma – and for a while the reader doesnt realize that it doesnt correspond to reality. The implied subject of the indicative mood, and the subject of epistemic obligation, is not the speaker-narrator but the character – who has the right to make mistakes.
Example 4 (also from Tammi 2003) Nabokovs short story An affair of honor can be treated as exploiting the same effect as in example from Jane Austin: the border is not clear between events that go on in reality and in the consciousness of the character.
6. Beyond the limits of linguistics Roman Jakobson believed that poetics is just a part of linguistics. What I tried to demonstrate is that FID is not as enigmatic and indescribable as it seemed, and the notion register of interpretation constitutes the core of the theoretical apparatus we are in need of. FID requires a register of interpretation different from that of traditional narrative, and the difference lies primarily in the fact that in FID not only secondary but also primary egocentricals can be appropriated by a character.
The next step is modernism, which blurs the difference between diegetic and exegetic world (= between the world of the characters and the world of the author). The difference between traditional narrative and FID was determined by division of ownership between the character and the narrator. Modernism consists, in particular, in that the author as a creator of a fictional world is identified with the God that created the real world: the author creates his fictional world before the readers eyes.
Nabokov gives a perfect example of this type of discourse in a short story «A busy person». But this is where linguistics ends. Identification of the creator of a fictional world with the Creator (with the capital letter) is for Nabokov the object of mockery. On the other hand, this idea serves as a basis for the fascinating novel by Ian McEwan. Atonement (NB the film of the same name with Keira Knightly in the lead role).
References Banfield 1982 Banfield A. Unspeakable sentences: narration and representation in the language of fiction. Boston etc.: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Benveniste 1971 – E.Benveniste. Problems in general linguistics. Maiami, Fla: Univ. of Maiami press, Lyons 1977 – Lyons J. Semantics. Vol. 1–2. L. etc.: Cambridge Univ. Press, Paducheva 1996 – Paducheva E. Semanticheskie issledovanija. Moscow: JaRK, sl1996.pdf. sl1996.pdf
Tammi P. Risky business: probing the borderlines of FID. Nabokovs An affair of honor (Podlec) as a test case. //Linguistic and literary aspects of free indirect discourse from a typological perspective. Tampere, Tamperen yliopisto taideaineiden laitos, 2003, Uspenskij 1970 – Uspenskij B.A. Poetika kompozicii. M