Language as Literature: Action, Character, and Plot in Conversation
Cognition and Poetics series, OUP (ed. Marla Perkins), Forthcoming
52 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2015 Last revised: 25 Sep 2019
Date Written: November 23, 2015
Works of fiction have characters, who perform actions, which make up the plot of the story. In this chapter, following some recent work in cognitive linguistics, I develop a tentative qualitative analytical framework for using the categories of action, character, and plot to analyze the meaning of ordinary language utterances. I propose a preliminary list of action levels, character types, and plot functions, which can be used in analyzing discourse using this framework, and apply this apparatus to the analysis of two conversation transcripts. Examining ordinary talk in the terms proposed here helps substantiate a radically enactivist and dialogic conception of linguistic meaning by extending an action-based account of the meaning of full linguistic utterances to also cover utterances’ content.
Keywords: action, character, enactivism, fictive interaction, meaning, plot
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