We always take in a certain perspective when we speak. Languages have a wide variety of linguistic means to express perspective. While perspectival elements are most of the time used from the perspective of the speaker, they can also be used from the perspective of someone else, a possibility that is fully exploited in narratives. The central aim of this project is to deepen our understanding of perspective shifts. It will not only elucidate the semantic and pragmatic mechanisms underlying interpretation shifts of specific expressions, but also unite them in a general formal model of perspective shift. Moreover, these insights will be used to unravel the linguistic grounding of narrative perspective. The project will focus on Ancient Greek, a language with a particularly rich perspective system. Not only do many classes of expressions involve perspective in some way (e.g. attitudinal particles, optative mood, tense and aspect, evaluatives, participles), but authors like Thucydides are also known for their subtle manipulation of narrative perspective. It is far from clear, however, how these shifts in narrative perspective are effected by the linguistic expressions used.
This project will study (i) the relation between attitudinal particles and perspective shifts, (ii) the role of evaluative expressions, and (iii) the relation between temporal perspective and narrative perspective. State-of-the-art computational methods will be used to extract data from existing corpora, revealing patterns that have eluded traditional methods; this methodology will be a major innovation in the field of classical philology.
The present project goes beyond previous semantic studies (i) by investigating more subtle and pervasive ways of perspective creation than the free indirect discourse technique and (ii) through the development of a general formal model of perspective shift, integrating the contribution of several perspective involving expressions.
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