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By Barbara Dancygier

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An example of compression could be a very simple expression, such as the generations of tomorrow, where the deictic form referring to the day following the current one (from the point of view of the speaker) is used to refer to all such days in our future. The compression of all specific ‘tomorrows’ into one downplays their temporal or deictic location, and highlights the speaker’s generic intent. In the stories under discussion here, various potentially factual events are compressed into the one the story actually tells, moving again from the specific to the generic.

Or are these stories the products of generations of inventive storytellers who made the stories more and more vivid to make their messages more memorable? Have children actually been abducted and devoured when they left the safety of the settlement, or did they need to be discouraged in exaggerated ways from leaving the safety of the group? From the point of view of Tomasello’s account the question is as interesting as it is unanswerable, since it is impossible in these cases to separate the account of events which occurred in the past from the narrative selection and presentation of events which play the normative cultural role better.

Returning now to the concept of ‘narrative,’ we might say that in the context of the discussion above, it is not substantially different from any other form of conceptualization in that it relies on the dynamic emergence of representations prompted by the text (in terms of both the events portrayed and the emotional response to those events), and that it relies on embodied cognition. The specificity of how narrative chains of events are held together has much to do with the processes identified by Herman (2003a), but these processes are also essentially supported by experiential concepts.

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