Cotextual Cues for the Annotation of Perspective in Livy’s Ab Urbe condita

The current paper examines the statistical correlation between a number of cotextual cues and the latent variable of perspective in a corpus of episodes taken from Livy’s narrative. The possible perspectives (external, internal, scenic camera-eye, immersive eyewitness and distanced eyewitness; cf. “focalization” in narratological studies) featured in Latin historiographical narratives are introduced and hypothesized to co-occur with a number of lexical (e.g. evaluative, descriptive), deictic (e.g. proximal, distal) and grammatical (e.g. voice) elements in the cotext of events and situations occurring in the main narrative tenses (especially the perfect, imperfect, and present indicative). During the analysis, statistical tests are used to ascertain the combined impact of these cues on (a) Livy’s choice of verb tense and (b) the linguist’s annotation of perspective. While the former is objectively observable, the latter relies on the functional linguist’s interpretation as a non-native speaker. Therefore, an additional test is used to show the correlations between the different narrative tenses and the perspectives to corroborate the results. This paper’s findings pave the way for a more systematic and objective annotation method for the latent variable of perspective in Latin narratives. Its argumentation is built on the statistical tests performed on the data gathered in close readings on a larger scale. From those close readings, some examples are provided in the current paper to illustrate specific or challenging concepts.

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