Semino, Elena (2011) Deixis and fictional minds. Style, 45 (3). pp. 418-440. ISSN 0039-4238
In this essay I show how marked patterns in the use of deictic expressions in literary texts can contribute to the projection of fictional minds that appear to work in “nonstandard” or “unorthodox” ways. More specifically, I suggest that the inherent “egocentricity” of deictic expressions can be exploited to represent strikingly “egocentric” fictional minds. I discuss in detail two examples from different genres: the poetic persona in Ted Hughes’s poem “Wodwo”, and the first-person narrator in Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In each case, I point out the presence of patterns in the use of deictic expressions that can be described as idiosyncratic, and I argue that these patterns interact with other textual phenomena to contribute to the impression of a fictional mind that works in a striking and distinctive way. My claims about the idiosyncratic use of certain types of deictic expressions in the two texts are supported by automatic quantitative comparisons with relevant larger corpora.
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