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Date: 29/05/2016
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Pseudsday Tuesday

Quinquereme is a good word.  I am pleased to be the first person to use it at this website, although I could have sworn that somebody, somewhere slipped in a quincunx.


I don’t usually like words ending in –eme. They are often unnecessary, if not meaningless, abstractions. “Phoneme”, for example, doesn’t tell us anything, in an age of literacy, that “sound” or “letter” won’t convey more accurately. “Morpheme” tells us even less. Is it a prefix, a suffix or an infix? And words – should that be lexemes? – fail me when I see the word “sememe”, supposedly a “unit of meaning”. Then there are mythemes – each more Barthesian than the last – and memes, about which I could write reams.


 I came across a new word today: narreme. That sounds a bit nautical – could it be a Narrenschiff, or Ship of Fools? Unfortunately not. It is the “basic unit of narrative structure”:


In interpretative narratology constrained in a framework of Principles and parameters, narration is the projection of a narreme N0, the abstract head of a narrative macrostructure where Nn dominates immediately Nn-1 (Wittmann 1995).


I’m just a girl who can’t say N0. Not even for a NnaN0second.


The word “narrative” is tainted by association with grievance politics. If you’ve got a narrative you’ve probably got a chip on your shoulder:

If elected to the highest office in the land, [Professor Pete Banner-Haley] says Obama would become a powerful symbol for all Americans of what is achievable and also would force major changes to what author Charles R. Johnson calls the "black American narrative."

"What will be the black narrative now? Steeped in victimization, steeped in the consequences of slavery and the stigma of racism for so long, now we have before us a man who well could be the next president," said Haley. "That narrative will have to change."

Haley, in fact, is adding a discussion about that topic to a book he has authored about black intellectuals, one of his research interests.

More on narratives in an article "authored" by Manfred Yarn – sorry, Jahn – here. Narratives in a nutshell below:

Guns, Germs and Steel in Tanzania
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