Memory and Utterance Temporality

Keywords: memory, mnemonic processes, mnemonic utterance, time, temporality, tense forms.


Objective. The paper presents a psycholinguistic perspective of the memory-time linkage problem extensively discussed by cognitive psychologists. Accepting the concept of personal memory as a linguocognitive system including the processes of encoding, storing, retrieval, and forgetting, the authors aim to examine how these processes are verbalized in regard to their temporal orientation. The present study is specifically focused on analyzing the morphological component of the verbal code (namely, tense forms) used by English speakers to represent their mnemonic experiences at each stage of cognitive processing.

Methods. Research procedures consisted in content analysis of each empirical item, distribution of sample fragments in accordance with the mnemonic situation type, structural and morphological analysis of mnemonic utterances and finding correlation between the type of a mnemonic utterance and the organization of its temporal structure.

Materials. The empirical database used in the research counts 7.500 communicative contexts selected from publicly available English sources and contains fragments of fiction, mass media and computer-mediated communication. The primary selection principle required that each research item should meet the criteria of the mnemonic situation, that is, include 1) the subject of the mnemonic experience, 2) the memory process being verbalized, 3) the mnemonic utterance as a verbal representation of the mnemonic content.

Results. The yielded results demonstrate the role of present, past and future tense forms in shaping the temporal structure of mnemonic utterances in English, suggest correlations between the temporal type of a mnemonic utterance and the cognitive-communicative conditions under which it was produced, which allows concluding that memory association with the past is an empirically ungrounded stereotype while the temporal structure of a mnemonic utterance is a heterogeneous one.


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Oschepkova , V., & Tivyaeva , I. (2019). Memory and Utterance Temporality. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 26(2), 296-320.