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Journal Article

The language of an inanimate narrator


Trompenaars,  Thijs
Center for Language Studies , External Organizations;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Trompenaars, T., Hogeweg, L., Stoop, W., & De Hoop, H. (2018). The language of an inanimate narrator. Open Linguistics, 4, 707-721. doi:10.1515/opli-2018-0034.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-6494-F
We show by means of a corpus study that the language used by the inanimate first person narrator in the novel Specht en zoon deviates from what we would expect on the basis of the fact that the narrator is inanimate, but at the same time also differsfrom the language of a human narrator in the novel De wijde blik on several linguistic dimensions. Whereas the human narrator is associated strongly with action verbs, preferring the Agent role, the inanimate narrator is much more limited to the Experiencer role, predominantly associated with cognition and sensory verbs. Our results show that animacy as a linguistic concept may be refined by taking into account the myriad ways in which an entity’s conceptual animacy may be expressed: we accept the conceptual animacy of the inanimate narrator despite its inability to act on its environment, showing this need not be a requirement for animacy