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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

boundaries: scenarios and stories

A scenario[1] is prototypical semantic situation, e.g., taking a meal, going fishing, travel by boat, a storm at sea. A script[1] is a prototypical sequence of events that are identified with a particular scenario. The boundaries for a story episode are often not identical with the boundaries of a scenario. To illustrate, we will look at the transition between two episodes; the "Storm on the Lake" (Mk 4:35-41) and the "Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac" (Mk 5:1-20).

An episode in a story prototypically begins with a statement about time, location, setting.

Mark 4:35 Καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὀψίας γενομένης· διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πέραν. 36 καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν ὄχλον παραλαμβάνουσιν αὐτὸν ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ, καὶ ἄλλα πλοῖα ἦν μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ.

What follows is a travel by boat scenario with an embedded storm at sea scenario. A travel scenario is bounded by a start location and a destination. In this travel scenario the destination is reached in Mark 5:1.

Mark 5:1 Καὶ ἦλθον εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν. 2 καὶ ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου εὐθὺς ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν μνημείων ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ,

In regard to the travel boat scenario Mark 5:2a καὶ ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου is the end point. Someone might argue that 5:1 is the end. But that doesn't matter. The next episode, Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac. begins at 5:1-5:2a with location and temporal information. The healing scenario begins with Mk 5:2b.

The semantic situation (scenario) "healing a demoniac" does not include arrival by boat as the first item in the script. Arrival by boat, belongs to a script for a travel scenario. Arrival by boat is the end of one episode and beginning of another. It is semantically related to a travel scenario and not a healing scenario.

One might argue that a more abstract "narrative episode" scenario could be used with a script the includes arrival at some point and time where the episode begins. This would make the story episode boundaries identical with the scenario boundaries by definition. I don't think that would be a very useful procedure. For the purpose of semantic analysis and the identification of inferential associations we would still need to identify a travel by boat scenario, a storm scenario, a healing of demoniac (exorcism) scenario.

[1] I am reading a paper by R.A. Hoyle on Scenarios, Discourse and Translation which is available from SIL as a PDF . In the following posts on this subject I will assume some familiarity with the framework used in this paper.

Hoyle, Richard A. 2008. Scenarios, discourse, and translation: the scenario theory of Cognitive Linguistics, its relevance for analysing New Testament Greek and modern Parkari texts, and its implications for translation theory. SIL e-Books, 10. [Dallas]: SIL International. xi, 835 p. PDF

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