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The Story Of Computational Narratology

Authors

 

SHARATH SRIVATSA, SHYAM KUMAR V N

International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore

SRINATH SRINIVASA

International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore

1 INTRODUCTION

 
In recent times, computational modeling of narratives has gained enormous interest in fields like Natural Language Understanding (NLU), Natural Language Generation (NLG), and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). There is a growing body of literature addressing understanding of narrative structure and generation of narratives. Narrative generation is known to be a far more complex problem than narrative understanding [20].

Narratives are characteristic of human semantic communication. A narrative represents a coherent perspective about a semantic universe, like a story or a current event. The human mind is known to be much more amenable for processing narratives, rather than disjoint facts and figures [10]. Across cultures of the world, and throughout history, it is common to see narratives as the basic tool for social communication, driving the formation of collective worldviews and social cognition.

A narrative comprises of a basic structure represented by a sequence of events, and a story-line or exposition that emerges out of such sequencing [9], [16]. Formally, the sequence of events that forms the basic structure is called the fabula, and the exposition that emerges from it, is called the syuzhet. A narrative is also made up of key actors that play a role in the events. The syuzhet creates a specific story-line, by representing the evolution of attributes of actors, and relationships among the actors across the fabula.

It is important to note the difference between the “story-line” or the exposition of a narrative, and the underlying story itself. A story represents the set of all events that have happened and all the actors and all the relationships between them. The story-line of narrative on the other hand, is a specific perspective on the story. A story can be conveyed with more than one narrative, representing different perspectives. Similarly, two different stories may be narrated using very similar story-lines, showing similarity in their underlying trope or semantic structure.

Table 1 shows narrations of two popular Aesop’s fables, that brings out a common underlying trope – that of gaining something by means of deceit, which forms the underlying semantic structure of both stories.

Table 1. Two story-lines depicting a common underlying trope of gaining by means of deceit.

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