Embodied Semantics 150 Years After Broca: Context-Dependent Negation in Novelistic Storytelling

Anatole Pierre Fuksas


Abstract: The present study capitalizes on recent advances in neurophysiology concerning the involvement of the sensory-motor system in language recognition and understanding during reading and listening so as to explain the various roles played by negation in novelistic descriptions since the medieval origins of the genre. Textual evidence from a famous medieval verse novel, Chrétien de Troyes’ Chevalier de la Charrette, demonstrates that negation does not simply complicate the processing of a given description. Indeed, negative descriptions can be completely understood only if fully integrated in a complex context which entails the conceptual representation of the negated state of affairs.

Keywords: Embodied Semantics; Negation; Narrative Description; Ecology of the Novel; Medieval Verse Novel.

La semantica incarnata 150 anni dopo Broca: la negazione contesto-dipendente nella narrazione romanzesca

Riassunto: Questo studio approfitta delle ultime scoperte nel campo della neurofisiologia circa il coinvolgimento del sistema senso-motorio nel riconoscimento e nella comprensione del linguaggio durante l’ascolto e nel corso della lettura silenziosa per spiegare il senso variabile e articolato della negazione nella narrazione romanzesca fin dalle origini medievali del genere. Evidenze testuali estratte da un famoso romanzo medievale in versi, il Chevalier de la Charrette di Chrétien de Troyes, consentono di illustrare come la negazione non si limiti a complicare il processo di comprensione di una data descrizione. Infatti, il senso delle descrizioni negative può essere compreso nella sua complessità soltanto se completamente integrato in un contesto che implica di necessità la rappresentazione concettuale dei fatti e delle circostanze negate.

Parole chiave: Semantica incarnata; Negazione; Descrizione narrativa; Ecologia del racconto; Romanzo medievale in versi.

Parole chiave

Embodied Semantics; Negation; Narrative Description; Ecology of the Novel; Medieval Verse Novel.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2013.0016

Copyright (c) 2013 Anatole Pierre Fuksas

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