Pragmatic Function of Semantics of Motion in Creation of Atmosphere of Horror in "Dreamcatcher" by S. King

 © The Editorial Team of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 28, 2014, pp. 132-137

Pragmatic Function of Semantics of Motion in Creation of Atmosphere of Horror in "Dreamcatcher" by S. King

Yaroslava Sazonova

Article first published online: April 03, 2014 


Additional information

 Author Information: 

Yaroslava Yu. Sazonova is Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor, Head of Department of English Grammar and Phonetics in Skovoroda Kharkiv National University. Correspondence: s-and@yandex.ru

Citation: 
Sazonova, Ya. Pragmatic Function of Semantics of Motion in Creation of Atmosphere of Horror in "Dreamcatcher" by S. King [Text] / Ya. Sazonova // Linguistic Studies collection of scientific papers / Donetsk National University Ed. by A. P. Zahnitko. – Donetsk : DonNU, 2014. – Vol. 28. – Pp. 132-137. – ISBN 966-7277-88-7

Publication History:
Volume first published online: April 03, 2014

Article received: 17 September 2013, accepted: December 26, 2013 and first published online: April 03, 2014

Annotation.

The article presents an attempt of defining pragmatic functions of the verbalized motions of subjects in the creation of the atmosphere of horror. The research is carried out within the bounds of the general problem of studying the genre text creation of horror literature and is viewed as a step of building the pragmatic model of the language means of this genre.

Keywords: pragmatics, text creation, verbalized motions, subject, horror literature.



Abstract.

PRAGMATIC FUNCTION OF SEMANTICS OF MOTION IN CREATION OF ATMOSPHERE OF HORROR IN "DREAMCATCHER" BY S. KING

Yaroslava Sazonova

Department of English Grammar and Phonetics, Skovoroda Kharkiv National University, Kharkiv, Kharkiv region, Ukraine

Available 17 September 2013.


Abstract

Relevance

The issue that is raised in this study can be formulated as the pragmatics of lingual expression of elements of fear on the text level and its impact on creating the atmosphere of horror in the text. Thus the topicality of the research is viewed in the need of studying the effect of linguistic textual elements containing the semantics of motion as a fragment of genre text creation of horror literature.

Purpose

The purpose of the article is to define pragmatic functions of the verbalization of subjects’ movement in creating the atmosphere of fear in the novel "Dreamcatcher" by S. King.

Tasks

The purpose raises the following tasks: 1) outline of the field of investigation; 2) disclosure of the key points of the senses of motion and fear; 3) classification of subject and space types encountered in the novel; 4) identification and description of pragmatic functions of motion verbs in horror texts.

Novelty

The article presents a pioneer attempt of grounding semantic and content importance of pragmatic functions of the verbalization of subjects’ motion as element of the general model of text creation of horror literature.

Theoretical value

The research is a contribution to the development of the methodology of building a pragmatic model of genre language means on the basis of text linguistics, pragmatics and cognitive linguistics.

Practical value

Practical importance of the research will contribute to further studies of text creation and text perception problem in modern theory of text as well as in sociolinguistic, cultural studies, psycholinguistic. It may be implemented in practice in teaching creative writing.

Conclusion

Case study of the verbalization of the subjects’ motion in the text of S. King’s novel "Dreamcatcher" gives grounds to conclude that the reality/unreality of subjects in horror texts and means of their nomination, combined with the reality/unreality of the space of motion, outlines a number of pragmatic functions of the verbalization of the subjects’ motion in the creation of the general atmosphere of fear: tension amplifier, marker of suspense, marker of the impending danger, indication of a miracle or unreal events, indication of fear.

Perspective

The research of the semantics of movement as a fragment of genre text creation of horror literature is one of the stages of building a pragmatic model of language means in this genre. Further investigations may be held in the field of comparative studies as well.

 

Research highlights

► The article presents an attempt of defining pragmatic functions of the verbalized motions of subjects in the creation of the atmosphere of horror. ► The research is carried out within the bounds of the general problem of studying the genre text creation of horror literature and is viewed as a step of building the pragmatic model of the language means of this genre.

Keywords: pragmatics, text creation, verbalized motions, subject, horror literature.

 

References

Borysov, O. O. (2005). Movni zasoby vyrazhennya emotsiynoho kontseptu strakh : linhvokohnityvnyy aspekt (na materiali suchasnoyi anhlomovnoyi khudozhn'oyi prozy). Avtoref. dys… kand. filol. nauk: 10.02.04. Zhytomyr: Zhytomyrs'kyy derzhavnyy un-t.

Halych, O. O. (2010). "Mistychn" v anhliys'komu hotychnomu romani. Osoblyvosti funktsionuvannya ta spetsyfika doslidzhennya. Naukovi zapysky Kirovohrads'koho derzhavnoho pedahohichnoho un-tu im. V. Vinnychenka. Seriya: filolohichni nauky, 89 (5), 81-84.

Zaykina, S. V. (2005). Strakh. Antologija konceptov, 247-268. Volgograd: "Paradigma".

Izard, K. Je. (2008). Psihologija jemocij. SPb: "Piter".

Litvak, M. E. (2006). Psihologicheskij vampirizm. Anatomija konflikta. Moskva: Studija ARDIS.

Kolesnyk, O. S. (2003). Movni zasoby vidobrazhennya mifolohichnoyi kartyny svitu : linhvokohnityvnyy aspekt (na materiali davn'oanhliys'koho eposu ta suchasnykh brytans'kykh khudozhnikh tvoriv zhanru fentezi). Avtoref. dys. … kand. filol. nauk: 10.02.04. Kyyiv: Kyyivs'kyy natsional'nyy linhvvistychnyy un-t.

Onishhuk, I. Ju. (2009). Kul'turologicheskij koncept "vampir" kak jelement konceptual'noj kartiny mira. "Mizhnarodna naukovo-praktychna konferentsiya z pytan' metodyky vykladannya inozemnoyi movy pam"yati profesora V. L. Skalkina". 19-20 lyutoho 2009 r., 499-505. Odes'kij nac. un-t іm. І. І. Mechnikova.

Turenko, O. S. (2006). Strakh. Sproba filosofs'koho usvidomlennya fenomena: Monohrafiya. Kyyiv: "Parapan".

Shherbatih, Ju. V., & Ivleva, E. I. (1998). Psihofiziologicheskie i klinicheskie aspekty straha, trevogi i fobij. Voronezh: "Istoki".

Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a Cognitive Semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

King, S. (2001). Dreamcatcher. E-portal: http://www.stephenking.com.

 

Correspondence: s-and@yandex.ru

Vitae

Yaroslava Yu. Sazonova is Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor, Head of Department of English Grammar and Phonetics in Skovoroda Kharkiv National University. Her areas of research interests include functional linguistics, cognitive linguistics, comparative linguistics, and text linguistics.


Article.

Yaroslava Sazonova

УДК 81`42

PRAGMATIC FUNCTION OF SEMANTICS OF MOTION IN CREATION OF ATMOSPHERE OF HORROR IN "DREAMCATCHER" BY S. KING

 

The article presents an attempt of defining pragmatic functions of the verbalized motions of subjects in the creation of the atmosphere of horror. The research is carried out within the bounds of the general problem of studying the genre text creation of horror literature and is viewed as a step of building the pragmatic model of the language means of this genre.

Keywords: pragmatics, text creation, verbalized motions, subject, horror literature.

 

Horror industry in modern culture holds a leading position due to its popularity and financial attractiveness. Psychological factors of this demand and means of creating the atmosphere of horror in the works of art in cinema and literature became the object of study of sociology, psychology, cultural studies [Туренко 2006] and other humanities. Psychologists [Ивлева 1998; Изард 2008; Литвак 2006; Щербатых 1998] found the problem of distinguishing fear and other emotions of particular interest, as well as fears classification, psychological and physiological effects of experiencing this emotion; linguists [Борисов 2005; Галич 2010; Колесник 2003; Оніщук 2009; Зайкина 2005] investigated the concept FEAR and means of its verbalization in different languages; literary studies paid special attention to the diversity of horror literature as genre. In general, the issue that is raised in this study can be formulated as the pragmatics of lingual expression of elements of fear on the text level and its impact on creating the atmosphere of horror in the text. Thus, the topicality of the research is viewed in the need of studying the effect of linguistic textual elements containing the semantics of motion as a fragment of genre text creation of horror literature. The purpose of the article is to define pragmatic functions of the verbalization of subjects’ movement in creating the atmosphere of fear in the novel "Dreamcatcher" by S. King. The object of the study is text creation and text perception of horror literature. The subject of the study is the means of verbalization of subjects’ movements in the novel "Dreamcatcher" by S. King.

According to L. Talmy’s [Talmy 2000] classification, one of the key components of the meaning of verbs of motion is a subject that moves or figure. Taking it into account, we foresee the special role of the movement of subjects of different origin in creating the atmosphere of horror in corresponding texts. All subjects in the texts of horror literature can be divided into real and unreal (or supernatural); moreover, their coexistence and interaction, including movement, are impossible in the real world, which lends still greater enormity and mysticism to texts. The names of the real and unreal entities in the text may be examples of direct or secondary nomination:

1. real subjects:

-  identified by means of primary nomination: Pete, Beaver, Jonesy (before crossbreeding with Mr. Grey), Henry, McCarthy, Douglas (or Duddits), Colonel Abraham Kurtz, soldiers, the dog;

-  identified by means of secondary nomination: Jonesy (who is possessed by Mr. Grey).

2. unreal subjects:

-  identified by means of primary nomination: Bowser, byrus, Mr. Grey (not in the body of Jonesy);

-  identified by means of secondary nomination: the thing, something (wet and heavy), its tail, it, a cigar-shaped object, a phantom horse, the weasel-thing.

Defining a separate group of real subjects that have a secondary name – Jonesy who is possessed by Mr. Grey – requires explanation. According to the plot of the novel, Jonesy – one of the main characters – suffers from colonization by an alien intellect, named Mr. Gray by the author, who is gradually trying to control not only Jonesy’s physical actions, and movements in particular, but thoughts as well for the sake of carrying out his mission. Both these names are used simultaneously in the text depending on whose power wins or resists, but both entities exist in the text in two forms: independently from each other and crossbred, i.e. Jonesy as a physical entity is Mr. Gray spiritually and mentally. We believe that in this case we encounter a specific type of nomination that characterizes horror texts as a type of discourse – ex-nomination (cf. En. ex-husband, ex-president, etc.).

Movement of all real beings in the text (people, animals, birds) becomes a desperate attempt to escape from death, while personal characteristics of the main characters of this horror novel influence their actions and movements and just bring them to the wrong end. For example, Pete, drunkard, lost in the woods with a strange woman, instead of watching over her, struggled to his feet and left in search of the car where the remains of his favorite beer were. His friend Beaver, who always had a toothpick in his mouth, encountered death because he tried to reach the toothpick: at the vitally important moment when he had to restrain with his body the weight of the terrifying creature that was struggling outside, leaned forward, reaching out. His stretching fingers came up just short of the nearest clean pick. Thus, the motion of real subjects that is not aimed at implementing the basic instinct to escape from the unknown threat but at implementing their destructive habits becomes the movement toward death.

The modern reader, who shares common European cultural tradition, usually consistently associates unreal entities identified by means of direct nomination in the texts of horror literature and beyond it with a source of fear, such as Dracula, ghoul, witch, etc. An author’s newly created nominations of unreal horrific entities cannot create terrible atmosphere by themselves without proper explanations or comparisons in the text. For example, S. King describes Mr. Gray as a gray man whose image can be seen on a hundred "Weird mysteries" TV show, the byrus the author describes as the golden-red sodden mass, Bowser is the same thing but taken in a more general sense as biological supernatural force that will conquer the Earth.

But the greatest horrible effect is achieved by using indirect nomination of unreal entities that corresponds to the natural sources of fear, especially from something unknown, obscure or previously unseen: its tail or whatever it was flexing and tightening around Beaver's waist.

Analyzing the pragmatic functions of verbalization of movement in horror texts, we take into account the characteristics of the space within which the movement of subjects takes place. In the novel by S. King the space can be of two types:

- real physical space;

- fictional closed space of the human mind.

For example, the description of the motion Jonesey limped restlessly back and forth; Jonesey wheeled around is perceived by the reader as frightening because according to the plot this movement occurs in Jonesy’s mind in an enclosed space that looks like a cluttered room. This room is the last refuge of the real Jonesy, who has to move and perform actions in the real space as Mr. Gray, who took over his body, orders. All Jonesy’s movements and actions within the space of the room are focused on desperate resistance to Mr. Gray. For Jonesy this struggle is real and vital, and sometimes neither Jonesy nor the reader can assess the reality of events that certainly helps in creating a horrible atmosphere in the text of this genre.

Also the creation of terrifying atmosphere in horror texts to a certain extent is influenced by such a characteristic of movements of subjects as the degree of effort made to carry out the motion. There are three degrees of focusing effort as long as "Dreamcatcher" is concerned:

-   movements that require minimum effort : He was turning away; Jonesey led the guy toward the couch; then the thing turned back; this stuff could actually spread; half of them actually stepped forward;

-   movements that require significant effort: its tail or whatever it was flexing and tightening around Beaver's waist; Mr Gray tries to wriggle toward the other side of the bed; to heave itself up and down; the kid jerks; he slipped in the snow, tottered for a moment, then ran on again; he staggered backward, flailing for balance; Beaver shuffles forward a little bit on his knees;

-   movements the implementation of which causes physical suffering: Pete struggled to his feet again; Mr Gray flailed Jonesey's body along the path; Mr Gray could hear the wet sound <> forcing itself out.

Preliminary analysis of the verbalization of subjects’ motion in horror texts on the material of S. King’s novel "Dreamcatcher" revealed the main components of the influence of the linguistic expression of movements on the creation of the appropriate atmosphere that allows us to determine their main pragmatic function.

A supernatural phenomenon is firstly what you cannot interpret or understand, so any event that cannot be explained by the laws of logic or life experience causes the feeling of fear, or so-called supernatural thrill, awe, which can easily turn into fear. Therefore, any action or movement made by a supernatural creature (even if the movement itself does not carry potential threat), is perceived as dangerous and helps to create the atmosphere of fear (Bowser <> slithers off the pillow). Actions that are performed by real subjects require additional context for the understanding of their pragmatic load in the horror text. For example, as it was mentioned above, the degree of effort required to perform the movement may function as such marker: He (Henry) slipped in the snow, tottered for a moment, then ran on again. Or another example, Pete struggled to his feet, where the movement causes physical discomfort to the performer. These movements are made by real subjects in the real space, and therefore their use in the text of horror literature only hints at a possible threat to the health or life of characters. The more effort is required to perform movements, the greater tension is implied in the description of this atmosphere in the text. Thus, we can affirm that movements verbalized in the horror text implement the pragmatic function of tension amplifier.

If in the previous example the movements were performed by real subjects indicated by means of primary nomination, the next example presents the subjects identified by means of secondary one. Dreamcatcher, the object of an Indian pagan cult, by its motion causes the protagonists feel a vague sense of anxiety and danger, as if prophesying the future: Dreamcatcher danced and slowly turned in some breath of air; it was like walking in a nightmare. Out of context the movements of this subject cannot trouble, but its relation to the subjects of magical rituals, and comparison of its movements with movements of somnambulists make the reader share the fear. Moreover, sinister dreams and somnambulists are traditionally associated in horror literature with intangible bond with otherworldly forces. In this context, the description of movements implements the pragmatic function of suspense.

The use of the verbs of motion for the description of movement of real or unreal entities in the unreal space of human consciousness realizes the pragmatic function of a miracle or unreality of events. For example, Mr. Gray squirmed in through the window; Mr. Gray tries to wriggle toward the other side of the bed; Jonesy felt Mr. Gray reaching out, reaching back. These events take place simultaneously with real events at real time and in real space, and it affects the reader in such a way that he does not differentiate between these two dimensions and cannot predict their interaction, which in its turn increases the sense of unreality and creates an atmosphere of fear and terror.

The notion of the otherworldly or supernatural in modern culture involves the inability to explain such phenomena by tools and means of modern scientific knowledge, logic, rational thinking, and therefore movements that unreal entities perform in horror texts are perceived by readers differently. For example, the verbalization of movements made by unreal entities identified by means of primary nomination creates a sense of imminence danger that surrounds the character: Bowser <> slithers off the pillow; Bowser crawls into Jonesey's lap; the byrus continued to spread. In these examples one of the important components of the semantics of verbs of motion, “speed” implicitly emphasizes the implementation of the pragmatic function of impending danger.

In the text of the horror novel "Dreamcatcher" secondary nomination of unreal entities mentioned in the above classification is widely used. Movements of such subjects is always performed in the real space, since the unreal space of human consciousness is accessible only for one subject (Mr. Gray): the thing in the bowl leaped again; then the thing turned back, its tail or whatever it was flexing and tightening around Beaver's waist; pulling Beaver's shirt out of his overalls and then slithering inside against his bare skin, a cigar-shaped object hovering over a power line cut in the wood; a phantom horse that kidnaps travelers and carries them away on its back ; one of the hairs came sliding across the floor toward him. As psychologists who studied the emotion of fear affirm, a subject previously unknown and unfathomable by human mind causes more tension, and observing his actions, in our study – movements, causes experiencing exactly the feeling of fear. It cannot be taken for anxiety or tension, waiting for something bad, because actual observation is the sign of fear.

For example, in the sentence Something wet and heavy landed on Beaver `s back the verbalized movement to land bears no threat, but within the context fear is emphasized: firstly, the subject of fear is identified by means of secondary nomination something and points to an unknown entity, secondly, the subject has physically repulsive characteristics wet and heavy, that is unconsciously perceived as additional negative information, and finally, the destination of the motion completes the creation of the emotional picture of fear – an unknown heavy and wet creature lands on the hero’s back.

Another example: it <> chewed its way out. Gradually, with the development of the plot the reader gets used to the idea that unreal subjects can move, but their movements may be performed by real entities in the real world as well. So S. King resorted to verbalizing threatening movements that are impossible to be performed by others. A man cannot chew the way out of somewhere, because men do not use teeth as a means of movement.

The nomination of the manner of movement helps in creating the portrait of the unreal subject: it has teeth and tail; it gets out of the human belly, causing terrible suffering evoked by the reader's imagination. In the very fancy all these features add up to the image of the unreal subject: a snake with sharp teeth, heavy and wet, which can jump to the level of a man’s height and moves very fast and powerfully.

Case study of the verbalization of the subjects’ motion in the text of S. King’s novel "Dreamcatcher" gives grounds to conclude that the reality / unreality of subjects in horror texts and means of their nomination, combined with the reality / unreality of the space of motion, outline a number of pragmatic functions of the verbalization of the subjects’ motion in the creation of the general atmosphere of fear: tension amplifier, marker of suspense, marker of the impending danger, indication of a miracle or unreal events, indication of fear. The research of the semantics of movement as a fragment of genre text creation of horror literature is one of the stages of building a pragmatic model of language means in this genre.

The research of the semantics of movement as a fragment of genre text creation of horror literature is one of the stages of building a pragmatic model of language means in this genre. Further investigations may be held in the field of comparative studies as well.

References. 

References

Борисов 2005: Борисов, О.О. Мовні засоби вираження емоційного концепту страх : лінгвокогнітивний аспект (на матеріалі сучасної англомовної художньої прози) [Текст] : автореф. дис… канд. філол. наук : 10.02.04 / Житомирський державний ун-т. – Житомир, 2005. – 20 c.

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У статті репрезентована спроба окреслення прагматичних функцій вербалізації руху суб’єктів у створенні атмосфери жаху. Дослідження виконане в межах загальної проблеми вивчення жанрового текстотворення літератури жахів і є одним із етапів побудови прагматичної моделі мовних засобів цього жанру.

Ключові слова: прагматика, текстотворення, вербалізація руху, суб’єкт, тексти літератури жахів.

Available 17 September 2013.