Events and Narratives in Language

by Janusz Badio (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 239 Pages
Series: Lodz Studies in Language, Volume 52


This book analyzes events and narratives from the points of view of literature, grammar, discourse, and semantics. The contributors explore the issues related to the ways of portraying stories and their events within a cultural and literary framework. They also examine the role of prefixes in construing events and asymmetries that exist in time-creating event markers from a contrastive perspective. The contributions focus on narrativity as a semantic category, and on how events are described in signed languages. They place the event and narrative categories at the center of interest and their specific goals are pursued by applying different, both qualitative and quantitative, research methods.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Part One: Events and Narratives in Literature and Culture
  • Storytelling, Legal Procedure, and Narrative Construction in Spanish Inquisitorial Records (Ted L. L. Bergman)
  • Spoken and Written Narratives in the Tenth- and Eleventh-Century Latin Documents from the Dalmatian City of Zadar (Ankica Bralić)
  • Performing (Hi)Stories: Narrative Elements in Faroese Balladry and Ring Dance (Annika Christensen)
  • Cognitive-cultural Aspects of Narrative Empathy (Katarzyna Stadnik)
  • Part Two: Grammar, Events and Narratives
  • Prefixes and Events: on the Structure of Events (Adam Biały)
  • Asymmetries in Time-Creating Event Markers in a Contrastive Perspective (Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk)
  • Part Three: Meaning, Events and Narratives
  • Narrativity as a Semantic Category (Dorota Filar)
  • Metaphorical and Metonymic Representations of the Concept of Time in Signed Languages (Krzysztof Kosecki)
  • Frame Activation as a Form of Meaning Creation in Languages of the Deaf (Krzysztof Kosecki)
  • Part Four: Discourse, Events and Narratives
  • A Narrative-discursive Approach to Life Stories: Towards Transdisciplinarity (Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak)
  • Fictional Narrative as a Window to Discourse Development: A Psycholinguistic Approach (Aleksandr N. Kornev / Ingrida Balčiūnienė)
  • Embodied Representation of Events in Modern English Newspaper Discourse (Anna Kryshtaliuk)
  • “I hope you don’t mind me quoting you”: Narrative Reports in the Service of (De)legitimisation (Anna Ewa Wieczorek)
  • Sporting Events in American Politics: A Metaphostructional Analysis (Jarosław Wiliński)

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The present volume contains papers divided into four sections. The first section concentrates on events and narratives in literature and culture, and the four papers explore the issues related to the ways of portraying stories and their events within a cultural and literary framework. The next section deals with grammar, events and narratives, with two papers looking at the role of prefixes in construing events and assymetries that exist in time-creating event markers from a contrastive perspective. The third section focuses on meaning as it is constructed when events and narratives are discussed, with focus on narrativity as a semantic category, and how events are described in signed langauges. The last section five assumes a discourse perspective on events and narratives. The editor hopes that the volume will be of interest and use to a wide spectrum of readers, including students and teachers of language, linguists, translators, and researchers studying language and cognition, more specifically those with an interest on events and narratives.

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Part One:
Events and Narratives in Literature and Culture

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Ted L. L. Bergman

University of St Andrews, Scotland

Storytelling, Legal Procedure, and Narrative Construction in Spanish Inquisitorial Records

Abstract: This article will look at two specific cases from the Spanish National Historical Archives and examine how narratives are constructed within the framework of the Inquisition’s religious and legal interrogation techniques. The first example deals with witness accounts of a dentist charged with blasphemy and how these build a story around the exact event of the crime in question. In the overall narrative, control is transferred from the accused to the institution by a movement away from personal and professional discourse into the religious and legal discourses dominated by the Inquisition. The second focuses on testimony from an investigation provoked by the use of opium by an Inquisitorial prisoner, in an effort to resist pain under torture. As an event, the opium use spawns narratives that exceed the bounds of ordinary questioning in terms of religious and legal subject matter. In the exchanges examined for this second case, one form of discourse (medical) displaces the others (religious and legal), and spawn narrative digressions that create forays into others discourses, whether military or centred on geopolitics.

Keywords: story, event, narrative, Inquisition, medicine, opium, denstist, Spain

1. Introduction

This investigation is part of continuing research that explores the relationship between storytelling and specialized discourses related to medicine and criminality as they appear in early-modern Spanish texts, both literary and non-literary. It is therefore important to note that this study is written from the perspective of a literature researcher whose expertise in narrative technique, for the most part, has been derived from studying examples of prose fiction from sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain. Comparative analyses of prose fiction can be used to reach broad conclusions about the narrative techniques therein, but such conclusions often require numerous examples for support, as well as the study of intertextual relationships. In contrast, this particular study will look at two cases that encompass a number of texts that are factual accounts, not intended or understood – by us or contemporary readers – as fiction. Those whose narrative voices appear in these texts do not consciously see themselves as authors. At the same time, they produce narratives that can be subjected to a literary analysis that identifies and ← 11 | 12 → tracks 1) the discourses employed, 2) who controls these discourses, and 3) how knowledge of subject matter and its limits dictate the level of control over a given narrative. Instead of using a broad survey of Inquisition interrogations or an intertextual approach, this study will place select narratives extracted from the two cases in a broader socio-historical context as a means of drawing its conclusions.

2. A preliminary note on the Spanish Inquisition and narrative

Historians are aware of the Spanish Inquisition as a rich source of personal stories recorded in a careful fashion, thanks to the thoroughly bureaucratic nature of this institution. These narratives are personal and focus on very particular events because they consist of stories told within the legal framework of a particular form of interrogation: questions directed towards obtaining a confession for a religious crime.

Historians and literary scholars with a historical focus tend to ground their views on the Inquisition in the historical record. Unfortunately, among non-specialists, awareness of the Spanish Inquisition’s place in history has been heavily shaped by representations in movies and television, well-known sources being the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ sketch from the comedy group Monty Python’s Flying Circus, or a ‘song-and-dance sendup’ in comedian Mel Brooks’s film History of the World: Part I (Manning 2009, p. 1). To sweep aside any lingering misconceptions, or simply supply essential missing information, it is important to include context that does not wholly focus on torture and fanaticism, and examples separate from the comic exaggeration that often accompanies representation of those elements. The Inquisition existed as a medieval institution in Europe for centuries before it gained fame as the ‘Spanish Inquisition’. Its official presence in Spain was announced through a papal bull issued by Pope Sixtus VI in 1478, a foundational document requested by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. The express purpose of the Spanish Inquisition was to prosecute heresy, but its other uses and ulterior motives have been heavily debated by historians. Henry Kamen (1998), in his The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision addresses a political climate and actions that are difficult to separate from what was ostensibly a purely religious organization.

This current study does not intend to enter the debate about the exact multiple motives behind the formation of the Spanish Inquisition, and certainly it should not be read as an apology for a ‘peacekeeping effort’ that would cause so much pain, distress, and death over the following centuries. Instead, the quotation above has been provided to demonstrate that, when looking at the institution, we must consider narrative structures of one sort of another, beginning with the narrative of a developing national identity. For more than seven hundred years, the Iberian Peninsula was home to three major religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Over time, the Christian-dominated kingdoms came to occupy more and more territory. With a royal edict issued in 1492, all of what we call ‘Spain’ today – at the time, an amalgam of recently joined kingdoms – was officially Christian. This national historical narrative is populated by many powerful Christian leaders who feared that recent converts to Christianity might be heretics in disguise. This public fear of pervasive heresy in Spain, whatever its underlying motives may have been, made the Inquisition a lasting and powerful institution, surviving into the nineteenth century. Within that broader national narrative are situated thousands of personal stories that are a reflection of that greater context, and themselves cannot always be explained purely in terms of a religious-legal prosecution. Depending upon how much the discourses contained within each narrative aligned with the Spanish Inquisition’s express purpose of prosecuting religious crimes, the degree to which these separate narratives are controlled by the story-tellers and interrogators can vary. The following contrasting cases have been chosen to demonstrate this variance.

3. The Case of the Blaspheming Dentist

The first narrative to be examined in this study involves a specific event of blasphemy. As Javier Villa-Flores (2006) writes,


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (June)
Narrative Cognitive grammar Linguistics Culture Language Events
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 239 pp., 14 b/w ill., 15 b/w tab.

Biographical notes

Janusz Badio (Volume editor)

Janusz Badio is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and General Linguistics, University of Łódź, Poland. He is author and co-editor of several publications in the field of Language Studies. His research concentrates on various aspects of cognitive linguistics, narration, events and the dynamic character of meaning construal. He is also interested in empirical, especially experimental, methods in language studies.


Title: Events and Narratives in Language
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