jueves, 26 de octubre de 2017

Frames in Narrative Pragmatics

(From Suzanne Fleischman's Tense and Narrativity (U of Texas P / Routledge, 1990; p. 3):

Pragmatics is understood as referring to all types of meaning dependent on context. Of primary concern here are, on the one hand, discourse context—the portion of discourse or text that surrounds a given sentence or sequence of sentences—as well as the nature of the text as a whole (narration, conversation, oratory), and, on the other, situation context—the communicative context or setting in which the text as a speech-act occurs. The pragmatics of discourse is concerned in large part with the organization of texts as coherent hwoles; this includes strategies for packaging the information in sentences as either topic or focus, signaling the relative saliency of different pieces of information, establishing intersentential cohesion, and other linguistically describable aspects of text structure. Situational pragmatics refers to aspects of the extratextual setting of the discourse, including its relationship to speech-act participants, the relationship of these participants—notably speaker and hearer(s)—to one another, and any other relevant features of the context of communication, linguistic or nonlinguistic.

Also relevant to this inquiry, and within the domain of pragmatics, are meanings and presuppositions that derive from our familiarity as members of a culture or subculture with certain culture-specific "frames"—a term coined by cognitive psychologists to refer to clusters of interrelated expectations associated with prototypical experiences or situation contexts. Though the frame concept was conceived with reference to real-world situations (e.g., a visit to the doctor, a Ph.D.  exam), it is easily extended to textual worlds, which also fall into recognizable types—genres—to which similar sets of expectations attach. To the extent that all forms of discourse entail "horizons of expectations"—reader-response theorists' umbrella term for the shared knowledge, assumptions, and values that writers/speakers tacitly draw on in constructing texts and that initiated readers/listeners draw on in decoding them—these must also figure into any analysis of narrative language that claims a pragmatic orientation.


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