Article published in:The Language of Memory in a Crosslinguistic Perspective
Edited by Mengistu Amberber
[Human Cognitive Processing 21] 2007
► pp. 13–39
2. Is "remember" a universal human concept? "Memory" and culture
Speaking of “elementary notions, common to everyone in the human race, that can be expressed in all languages”, Umberto Eco (2000: 87–88) states: “Most certainly, every man has a notion of what it means to (. . .) to remember”. This paper argues that Eco is mistaken and that ‘remembering’ is not a universal human concept but a cultural construct, shared by some languages but not others. It also shows that culture-specifi c concepts like ‘remember’ and ‘memory’ can be explained and compared through genuinely elementary and universal notions such as know, think and before (that is, through ‘ nsm’). To illustrate these general themes, the paper offers a detailed analysis of the Polish fi eld of ‘memory’, linking Polish semantics with Polish history and culture.
Published online: 14 November 2007
Cited by 6 other publications
Goddard, Cliff & Anna Wierzbicka
Tivyaeva, Irina & Olga Syomina
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