Intelligent agents, for example, need to be able to use sequences of referring expressions as cues for making inferences about agents, places, and objects and about the dynamic relations between them. Based on a Orpheus of seventeen North Carolina ghost stories, this paper argues that studying processes of spatial reference in natural-language narratives can yield important insights into some of the principles and parameters of narrative Intelligence.
Data and Methodology My paper derives from work done as part of two research initiatives at North Carolina State University: the Liquid Narrative Group spearheaded by Michael Young, and the North Carolina Language and Life Project, which Is directed by the sociolinguists Walt Wolfram, and which studies linguistic, ethnographic, and international dimensions of speech communities across he state of North Carolina. Thus, in general terms, my work draws on linguistics (especially discourse analysis), cognitive science, and the interdisciplinary field of narrator in an effort to accomplish two broad goals.
The first Is to help Illuminate the nature and scope of narrative Itself; the second Is to highlight how theoretical approaches to narrative have important applications for those working on computational models for human reasoning and cognition, as well as those in More the field of human-computer Interaction. L specifically, my paper for the Symposium on Narrative project on the role of spatial cognition in narrative recessing.
Arguably, any system designed to model or simulate narrative intelligence will have to take into account how stories encode mental representations not just of things-in-space, but also of emergent spatial relationships between these located things. Intelligent agents, for example, need to be able to use sequences of See Herman (1997), (AAA), (Bibb), forthcoming(a), and forthcoming(b) for examples of previous and ongoing work. A transcription of most of the ghost stories in the narrative corpus discussed in this paper can be found in Herman, forthcoming(a). Offering expressions as cues for making inferences bout agents, places, and objects and about the dynamic relations between them. Hence, studying spatial parameters of narrative intelligence. Based on a corpus of seventeen ghost stories told by residents of Robertson and Graham Counties, North Carolina, during sociolinguistic interviews designed to gather information about their dialects, my paper focuses on how tales of the supernatural provide an ideal laboratory for cardiopulmonary investigation of referential processes in narrative.
Like other storytellers, narrators of ghost stories have to furnish cues that enable their listeners to identify referents over time–to track agents and objects as they move from one state of affairs to the next in the storyboard (Emmett 1997). More than this, however, tellers of supernatural tales must also help their listeners interpret otherwise inexplicable events as paranormal actions. Such actions are performed by agents that can sometimes be quite difficult to detect, describe, and monitor.
The challenge of tracking the movements of ghostly agents through space is no less demanding than establishing reference to such agents to begin with. Thus, not Just quaint tales about rural areas with a haunted past, the stories in my corpus provide an important test-case for studying how irritates enable “cognitive mapping” (Downs and the process by which things and events are mentally modeled as being located somewhere in the world.
Note that in much early research on narrative, if space was discussed at all it was used negatively, to mark off setting from story, orientation from complicating action (Labor 1972; Labor and Wallet’s 1967), description from narration proper (Genet 1982). 2 The tendency to make temporarily the hallmark of narrative, and space a more or less optional accompaniment, is evident in some of the early documents of the neurological tradition (e. G. , Breathes 1977).
Already in the late sass and the sass, however, Grammas and his associates (Grammas 1988; Grammas and Courts 1983) began developing an 2 Koran (1984) usefully draws together, and extends, neurological approaches to space in narrative. Approach that anticipated more recent work on language and narrative–work suggesting that spatial reference in fact plays a crucial, not a weak or derivative, role in stories. Prefiguring later work based on the concept of deictic shift (Dachas et al. 995), Grammas and Courts (1983) argued that narratives, among other types of discourse, are made possible by what they called piscatorial disengagement, I. E. A “split which creates, on the one hand, the subject, the place, and the time of the enunciation and, on the other, the… Spatial and temporal representation of the utterance” (88). 3 Grammas and Courts (1983: 180-81) also discussed what they called spatial localization in narrative, whereby storytellers distribute storyboards into spaces that they represent as being inhabited by particular characters.
Building on Enlistments (1970) distinction between familiar and alien spaces in Russian folktales, Grammas (1988: 76-100) created a taxonomy that distinguished between topical (or relatively proximal) ND heterocyclic (or relatively distal) narrative spaces, further subdividing topical space into utopian and practical spaces that he associated with action and setting, respectively.
Analogously, studying ways in which spatial localization is accomplished in oral narratives, my that stories should be viewed not Just as temporallystructured communicative acts, but also as sets of verbal or visual cues anchored in mental models Monsoons-Laird 1983) having a particular spatial structure. More exactly, stories encode mental representations according to which the world being told about has a particular spatial structure.
Thus, although it is true that narratives display a double temporarily, being sequentially organized accounts of sequences of events (Chatham 1990), stories can also be thought of as specializing storyboards into evolving configurations of agents, objects, and places. Recent work in narrative theory incorporating discourse-analytic and gentrification’s ideas confirms that grasping the when, what, who, and where of events being recounted is a matter of actively building and updating mental representations of storyboards.
Emmett (1997), for example, has developed the notion of contextual frames to discuss owe readers of written narratives supplement text-based or propositional information with situation-based information (CB. Spaceman and Kisser 1990). When people read they do not automatically and iteratively 3 Well before Grammas developed the notion of disengagement, Bubbler (1965) had discussed the phenomenon of Despise am Phantasms, whereby entities not present in the immediate deictic field of a current communicative act are treated as if they were, as when a speaker makes an apostrophe to an absent (or even dead) interlocutor. Sign referents to third-person pronouns, for instance, y attaching them to entities previously mentioned in the discourse. Rather, reference assignment is made possible when narrative texts cue readers to activate contextual frames, I. E. , knowledge representations that store specific configurations of characters located at specific capacities coordinates in the storyboard.
Referring expressions thus evoke not Just fictional individuals but whole contextual frames, and discourse anaphora, anchored not so much in particular entities as in the spermatozoa contexts of those entities, starts to reveal properties normally associated with despise. More nearly, Motet’s model, like Fluffiness (1996) cognitive parameters for telling and interpreting stories, suggests that framing representations of the where in a story is a major dimension of narrative processing, not a matter of filtering out descriptive detail to form interpretations of core narrative elements (e. . Who did what to whom and why). My paper surveys six key ideas growing out of such recent narrative-theoretical work and sketches their applications for the study of spatial cognition in oral narratives. The theories throw light on stories taken from my corpus, while conversely the stories reveal he importance of incorporating natural-language data into research on language, narrative, and space. The final part of my paper focuses in on a single story, showing how the research tools I discuss can be used in concert to expose a very rich structure of spatial reference in narrative domains.
Spatial Reference and Cognition in a Narrative Corpus Following are the six key ideas I use to study processes of spatial reference;and, by extension, spatial cognition;in the North Carolina ghost stories. ; The notion of deictic shift, whereby a storyteller prompts his or her interlocutors to relocate from the ere and now of the current interaction to the alternative capacities coordinates of the storyboard (I.. E. The world being told about) (Gerri 1993; Ryan 1991; Tally 1995; Yuan and Shapiro 1995; Cabin and Hewitt 1995); ; the distinction between figure and ground, alternatively described as located object versus reference object (Faraway 1992; Heritors 1986; Landau and Jackknifed 1993: 217-12); ; the notions of regions, landmarks, and paths, as developed by Landau and Jackknifed (1993); ; the distinction between topological (or inherent) and projective (or viewer-relative) locations (Faraway 1992; Hanks 1990: 293-351; Elevations 996); ; the deictic functions of motion verbs located on a semantic continuum whose poles, in English, are come and go (Brown 1995: 108-24; 188-91; Landau ; and the distinction between the what and where systems of spatial cognition, proposed by Landau and Jackknifed (1993; see also Landau 1994, 1996). The what system is postulated to be the richer of the two; it is encoded via many thousands of count nouns, while the where system concerns chiefly directions of movement and objects’ axial structure, being encoded mainly via prepositions and spatial adverbs. After showing how a number of the stories in my Orpheus rely on (and linguistically encode) these mechanisms of spatial cognition, I provide an integrative analysis of one narrative whose teller resorts to several of the mechanisms in combination.
For instance, at the opening of her tale the storyteller alternates between was and is, shifting from the deictic center of past events to the center of the present act of storytelling, then shifting back again with the nonstandard past tense form I seen him. Accomplished narcissistically, these cues enable the narrator’s interlocutors to transpose spatial parameters of the current interaction back onto the sat, when the events at issue happened. In particular, the teller refers to the two double windows of her bedroom, both gutturally and linguistically, with an emphatically loud production of the spatial deictic there. Thus marked as salient, the windows serve as a reference object for the narrator’s bedroom in two different time-frames.
By using the windows to help her present interlocutors grasp the spatial layout of her house, the storyteller reduces the processing effort required for cognitive mapping of past events. Likewise, the narrator uses motion verbs to indicate both her perspective on events and the trace of her dead brother’s movements through regions located by way of two landmarks or reference objects, her bedroom windows and the little sidewalk that leads up to them. The ghost comes to the window; he then turns or goes away from it; then, in an effort to see him go/turn down the sidewalk, the storyteller gets up off of her bed;using, in this last utterance, a compound form that functions as a morphologically complex variant of go.
This sequence of verbs not only charts the comings and goings of the ghost, but Indeed, the point of this story depends in large part on the path taken by the ghost toward and then away from the region from which the narrator looks on, as well as the path taken by the teller herself as she gets out of bed and moves toward the sidewalk region in attempts to keep on observing the departing ghost. By encoding paths taken through these protectively located regions, the story reveals that the spaces of life and death ultimately cannot intersect–even though the narrator’s dead brother presses close to the boundary of the living. Furthermore, by tracing movements of entities on paths towards and away from a particular appointment, the narrator’s account recruits a where system of the sort specified by Landau and Jackknifed (1993).
The storyteller’s heavy reliance on verbs of motion sets up a distal-proximal axis, with things successively moving closer or getting farther away from the vantage-point of her narration. The story thus models the where in a manner that preserves only very coarse geometric properties of the what. That is, in representing place, the narrative expresses mainly the axial structure of objects, and more specifically the direction in which they are pointed along the paths that lead to and away from the narrator’s bedroom windows, hither and thither along the little sidewalk. The analysis sketched here is of course far from Ewing an exhaustive account of how spatial reference functions in the stories in my corpus;let alone in narrative as such.