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Chaucer’s Choices

Through the looking-glass of medieval imagery

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Katarzyna Stadnik

The monograph discusses the relation between language and visual culture, focusing on two Chaucerian narratives, «Knight’s Tale» and «Troilus and Criseyde». The study highlights the significance of the continuity of imagery in language and material culture for cultural transmission, providing insights into the relation between Chaucer’s linguistic usage and the late medieval symbolic tradition. Undertaken within the Cognitive Linguistic framework, the research indicates the usefulness of adopting a panchronic perspective on the development of language and culture.

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4. Language as a memory medium

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81 4. Language as a memory medium We have argued that language may aid cultural transmission by storing human knowledge that accumulates across generations of cultural community members. Since language is seen as a repository of the community’s cumulative knowledge, the issue of human memory comes to the fore. Hence, while it is argued that language may act as one type of memory carrier, it is also claimed that literature may be seen as memory medium conveying visions of the past, values, norms, and conceptions of identity (cf. Pakier and Saryusz-Wolska 2014). If so, such human-made mediators of the past are instrumental in shaping the community’s knowledge. For this reason, it seems reasonable to explore the question of whose mem- ory, whether individual or collective, is conveyed via such linguistic usage. We have pointed out that the term linguistic subjectivity is construed too narrowly to account for the interplay of idiosyncrasy and sociocultural situatedness in lin- guistic usage. Humans may manipulate language, as shown, for instance, in our account of ironic utterances. This means that information channelled through language may be purposefully distorted, but conveyed in ways that can effectively conceal vested interests on the part of the speaker. The approach that recognises inherent limitations of human cognition poses a challenge to linguistic accounts of the locutionary subjectivity, an issue to be addressed in this section. Specifi- cally, it seems that linguistic theorising fails to include the question of implicit/ explicit knowledge representation, favouring instead the study of markers of...

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