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Thumbnails Document Outline <> <http://www.hum.> <> <> <> <> <> <> No Outline Available Find: Previous Next Highlight all Match case Toggle Slider Find Previous Next Page: of 8 Presentation Mode Open Print Download Current View <,0,849> Zoom Out Zoom In Narrative Ontologies Henrik Schärfe Department of Communication, Aalborg University Kroghstrade 3, 9220 Aalborg East, Denmark E-mail: Abstract This paper addressed the question of how collection s of theoretical terms from a field of study can be organized in an ontology. I t is suggested here that such endeavors may benefit from a meta-model used to str ucture the ontology, and the prerequisites of such a meta-model are discussed. A collection of more than 600 theoretical concepts from the field of narratology is examined and the results reported. There are two predominant aspects of buil ding narrative ontologies: one is the modeling of the narrative domains, e.g. story w orlds. The other is modeling of the theoretical bases for interacting with that dom ain, e.g. text theories. This paper deals with both. Key words: ontology building, narratology, taxonomi es, knowledge design 1 Introduction Among the modes of human communication, narrative t akes an important place. The ability to mix different kinds of argument types makes narrative a n attractive choice in conveying many different kin ds of messages, ranging from journalism (public) to pe rsonal experience (private), from the doings of everyday life (personal identity) to questions of p hilosophy and religion (cultural identity).

The academic study of narratives has a long traditi on of classifying theoretical elements and building taxonomies of these findings. Indeed, many narratologies intrinsically consists of such taxonomies. Especially the last century in European and American thinking has been greatly influenced by studies of narrative phenomena. As a result of t hese efforts, we now have a growing vocabulary, accumulated over many decades of critical studies, and drawing on epistemological bases from different paradigms such as formalism, structuralism, post-st ructuralism and post-modernity. The history of narratology is by no means a secluded path of think ing, but rather an expanding network of thoughts an d ideas brought together from different traditions an d from a variety of research communities. Narrative analysis and narrative understanding are today hous ehold words (though not necessarily well-defined) i n research done in the departments of sociology, medi cine, business, and law; as well as in the departme nts of language and communication studies. The theoretical lineage of the arts and humanities in many ways contrasts that of natural science (the so-called exact sciences), in that they invest igate different kinds of objects. The main object o f investigation in the humanities is the human though t, and especially how thinking is expressed though text. This implies a focus on open-ended interpreta tion and perspective, rather than on proof in the mathematical sense. In many cases this is of little consequence, because the scholarly communities hav e developed the necessary codes of communication to c ope with that. But in the interesting cases where theories and concepts from the humanities are to be formalized, e.g. for computational purposes, a number of problems seem to arise. Interestingly, narratology seems to possess certain qualities that are helpful in bridging this divide . Evidence of this is found in research projects from many different areas where strategies and viewpoin ts from various narratologies have been adopted and ap plied to areas such as narrative aspects of summarization [5], [8], interactive storytelling [1 9], and multimedia management [10], [14]. While the se areas may be somewhat close to traditional studies in the humanities (they often take competing perspectives into account) they are at the same tim e subject to formal description. But even though 2 narratological concepts are frequently used in form al ontologies for various purposes, the constructio n of

narratological ontologies is seldom addressed as a problem in its own rights [11]. Common to most of the efforts mentioned above, as w ell as many others, is that a restricted set of concepts or a single theory is selected and incorpo rated into ontological descriptions used for a wide r purpose. These approaches, however, normally does n ot reflect the richness of theories and concepts commonly used in narrative analysis, nor do they no rmally offer any hints as to how the chosen concept s are related to similar concepts. An example will il lustrate the problem: Suppose we have a method for representing the content of narrative communication, such as the impressive work done in NKRL (Narrative Knowledge R epresentation Language), where hierarchies of `narrative predicates ́ are used to account for diff erent kinds of interaction [23]. The pretext of suc h analyses invokes genre-definitions and pragmatic co ncerns, e.g. that narrative in this specialized cas e denotes ªnon-preedited, Natural Language text of an industrial and economic interestº [21]. And elsewhere it is said that NKRL is ª... expressly desig ned for representing, in a standardized way (`metadata'), the `meaning' of complex multimedia d ocumentsº [22: 648]. These are important issues, carefully addressed in scientific papers of the pro ject, but these concerns are not accounted for in t he ontology, precisely because these considerations pe rtain to a different level of communication than th e one for which the ontology was build. On the same g rounds, such a framework does not facilitate theoretical distinctions between types of narrators , because this issue deals with yet another level o f communication. It is very likely that many of these matters are be tter left out of specific applications designed to investigate specific problems. But it is also very likely that studies in related areas, as suggested above, could be beneficial to the privileged analysis, e.g . taking into account different kinds of narrators in evaluating collections of texts. In order to achieve such a framework, an ontology o f narratological terms and concepts is needed. 2. The general structure of the ontology As the interest in formal description of communicat ion grows, it is natural to look for ways to formally describe the important features of narrati ve communication, simply because narrative is an intrinsic form of human knowing.

Building ontologies of narratives and narrative und erstanding also points to an interesting research problem of a higher order, namely the interaction b etween the modeling of domains and the modeling of the theoretical stances that allows us to interact with such domains. Clarifying the scope and intenti on behind given ontologies is an obvious prerequisite for extending the ontological description to other domains than the ones it was originally conceived f or. This important issue, in turn, raises the quest ion of enabling different ontological descriptions to work together, either by merging existent ontologies in to new ones [18] or by providing mappings between exis ting ontologies [7]. Making different descriptions work together is not merely a matter of aligning hi erarchies of concepts (which in itself is difficult enough), but it is a matter of aligning intentions behind the descriptions. However, this aspect of o ntology building is often neglected. The argument here is t hat a domain ± such as narrative analysis ± that is at the same time highly specialized and extremely diverse, may benefit from a meta-model that takes the overa ll structure of the domain, as well as the preferred w ays of interacting with that domain, into account. And that such a meta-model can be used as a general fra me by means of which an ontology can be organized. In this case an ontology of narratological terms. It has elsewhere been suggested that different onto logies may be formally related and compared by means of a meta-ontology, provided that the primiti ves of the ontologies in question can be derived fr om the primitives in that meta-ontology [24]. In the i nquiry before us, this approach is extended to incl ude the question of how a domain consisting of a large numb er of theoretical concepts can be organized. A suitable meta-model must, I believe, meet three c riteria: in the first place, the model must be general enough to subsume a significant portion of the theories in question. In the second place, the model must be specialized enough to account for character istic features of the domain, and thirdly, the mode l must contain stable categories that allows for stab le methods in deciding how the concepts of the doma in should be organized. An appropriate candidate for the position of meta-m odel is the theory of narrative levels

. This theory can be found in some variation and is someti mes extended with more layers than the one presente d here. See [15: 1-12] for an overview. For the prese nt purposes, however, the model in its basic form i s 3 preferred because it is more general. This version of the model is adapted from [12: N1.7]. The model consists of three layers: 1. a level of nonfictional communication comprising the actual (physical) sender and receiv er of the communication and thereby suitable to accoun t for matters of authorship and interpretation. 2. a level of fictional mediation and discourse comprising matters relating to the text and the way in which information is organized in the text. This includes matters of the narrator and the entities narrated to (the narratee). 3. a level of action comprising the world in which the reported action takes place. author reader level of nonfictional communication narrator narratee level of fictional mediation and discourse character character level of action Fig. 1. Levels of narrative communication This framework has a high degree of generality in t hat the constitutive elements of the model are the same as constitutive elements of well-establish ed communication theories: sender ± text ± receiver . Furthermore, different schools and tradition in nar rative analysis have emphasized different aspects o f analysis and these perspectives can be seen as corr elating with the layers of the model. Thus, many formalist and structuralist theories are mainly con cerned with the text itself; many pragmatic theorie s with the intention of the text and the relation between text and context in that respect; and many postmode rn theories are primarily concerned with matters of co ntext with respect to interpretation. The high degree of generality is balanced by the fa ct that this model also represents specific features common only

to narrative texts. The tension between that which is told (the level of action) and the way in which this is told (the level of discour se) is a prominent aspect of narrative analysis ref lected in numerous books, beginning with the Aristotelian distinction between mythos and logos [2]. See the influential work of Chatman for a contemporary acco unt of this matter [4]. This distinction is importa nt to narratologists not only with respect to discerning narratives from non-narratives, but also with respe ct to accounting for different (and sometimes competing) perspectives conveyed through the text. Thus, this model captures essential aspects of narrative texts that models of other discourse genres would not. Finally, the model can be operationalized by for ea ch concept to ask the question: which level does this concept shed light on? The model describes thr ee layers or dimensions of communication involving narrative texts. Because of this, many theoretical concepts are defined by referring to two, or to all three of the layers. This is not surprising, and in gener al, it does not prevent a domain expert from decidi ng at which level a concept should be placed. Consider th e following examples: Flashback: Going back to the past with respect to t he present moment. This concept is used to explain in what order thing s are presented rather than focusing on the content of these things. It is an anachrony between that which is told and the order in which this is told. Therefore, it should be considered as pertain ing to the level of discourse. Dianoia: (thought) is an agent's conception of thin gs, revealed by emotions, beliefs, statements, and reasonings. In Aristotelic terms, a long with character (ethos) the fundamental qualities of an agent. Obviously, the choice of employing thoughts and act ions of an agent as 4 narrative devices belongs to the sphere of the auth or, but the concept itself describes issues within the sphere of action. Adaptation: the transmutation of a narrative, usual ly from one medium to another. This concept explains matters of non-fictional comm unication as it deals with considerations regarding the medium through which the fictional co mmunication is to take place, e.g. as when a book is adopted for television. 3. The material In determining which concepts the ontology should c ontain, I have used the well-known work of Gerald Prince from 1987 [16], a dictionary containi ng approximately 600 concepts

1 . In addition, I have chosen to include the glossaries of two recent text books: ªThe Cambridge Introduction to Narrativeº by H. Porter Abbott [1], and ªThe Narrative Readerº by Ma rtin McQuillan [13]. The glossaries from these two books contain 92 and 146 concepts respectively. This collection of concepts can be said to cover a large portion of concepts in narratology; certainly it is enough to evaluate the suitability of the met a-model. The resulting ontology may consequently be extended to include other theories. Given the nature of these lists of words, it is not surprising to find some overlaps. The concept lattice below shows the distribution between the th ree sources. The numbers attached to the formal concepts show the size of unique contribution. The concept lattice in Fig 2 shows that there is a significant larger overlap between Prince and McQui llan than between Prince and Porter Abbott. Fig. 2. Concept lattice representing the overlaps of sourc es for the domain Thus, 440 terms are exclusively found in Prince, 92 terms are found in Prince and McQuillan (but not in Abbott), and 46 terms are found in all three books. In total the domain of interest contains 63 1 theoretical concepts, all of which are accounted fo r in the resulting ontology [17]. An introduction t o concept lattices is found in [9]. 4. Structuring the domain In structuring the collection of theoretical concep ts as described above, a number of concerns have been brought to attention. The following is a list of the most pertinent: Imported theories . Some theoretical constructions may be valuable to ols in analyzing the field, but foreign to the domain in the sense that the theorie s stem from other areas and deserve ontologies of t heir own. Such groups of concepts can be placed in branc hes of their own in the ontology, and does not need 1 Some entries in the dictionary are left out of thi s analysis; primarily concepts in German and French . In these cases the semantic content of the terms is ot herwise accounted for. 5 to effect the organization of the remaining concept s. In the present case, examples include terminolog y from (general) linguistics, (general) semiotics, sp eech act theory, and Jacobson's model of language functions. Meta-analytical concepts

. Other concepts are specifically coined to descri be matters of narratology at a meta-level. Here we find names of models (e.g. the actantial model, Freytag's pyramid), and names of the field itself (e.g. narratology, narrativics) . In the overall model, both `imported theories' an d `metaanalytical concepts' pertain to the level of nonfic tional communication, but in the specialized case w here the receiver of the communication is an analyst. Synonyms . As time goes by, theories are refined and taxonom ies revised and extended, and academic terms are given new names. Even though dif ferent terminology may cover the same conditions in the world, they should be kept in mind (and in f ormal descriptions) because they embody different traditions and epistemologies. An example of this i s a part of the plot that, if left out, would disru pt the coherence of the narrative. Such a part was named a bound motiv by Tomashevsky [20], a narreme by Dorfman [6], a nucleus by Barthes [3], and a kernel by Chatman [4]. Clusters of concepts . Several concepts are organized in clusters, emph asizing different aspects of the same phenomenon. This is especially true of com pound concepts. A particularly interesting example of this is the complex interrelations between point of view, type of narrator, and type of narration. A common way of classifying narratives (the level o f nonfictional communication) is based on the type of narrator (level of fictional communication) . The narrator, in terms, is classified based on hi s relations to a) the narrated world, and b) in case the narrator is a part of the narrated world, to hi s relation to the characters in that world (level of action). The following subtype hierarchy of narrators can be extracted: Omniscient narrator Character based narrator Non-cha racter based narrator Author-observer fixed Multiple Variable ºIº as protagonist ºIº as witness Narrator Heterodiegetic narrator ( situated at the level of action )

Homodiegetic narrator ( situated outside the level of action ) Non-fixed Editorial omniscience Neutral omniscience Fig. 3. Taxonomy of narrator types By definition, the narrator pertains to the level o f fictional communication, but the classification i s contingent upon the point of view obtained by the n arrator. In the cases of homodiegetic narrators, th e point of view positions occur at the level of actio n. The hierarchy below shows that the extracted poi nt of view types (P O W) represent a structure that is ho momorphic with the taxonomy of narrators. Again, th is is a subtype hierarchy. Based on such analyses, a formal description of the concepts can be reached. This not only serves to remedy the fact that the dictionaries were intended for other use than formal ontology, but it draws attention to the fact that the domain contains stru ctures that can be formalized with relative ease. Interestingly, this form of analysis can also be us ed to discover concepts that are implicitly present in the dictionaries, but not explicitly defined. 6 Internal POW External POW Single character POW Consecutive POW Alternate POW Central character POW Non-central character POW Point of view Heterodiegetic POW Homodiegetic POW Different character POW Fig. 4. Taxonomy of viewpoint types 5. Structuring story worlds The modeling of narrative domains, or story worlds, is notoriously difficult because the set of texts that we collectively name `narratives' can take pla ce in every thinkable setting and unfold with any thinkable arrangement of agents. Story worlds may b e inhabited by thinking stones, talking trees and animals, aliens, all sorts of fantastic creatures, and divine entities; and equally common: story worl ds may lack all of these things and be inhabited by fairly ordinary people. In addition, the laws of nature a s we know them, may not apply to story worlds: there may be magical agents (animate and inanimate), people may be able to fly or travel at light speed, have e xtraordinary powers of any conceivable kind, and so on.

In fact the only limitation in the construction of story worlds is the borders of human creativity. No tably, human beings have no problem `adjusting' to story w orlds even if these are radically different from th e reality we know. Obviously, local ontologies are ne eded in order to account for things present in stor y worlds, as no standard ontology can be expected to accommodate all these occurrences. But this is difficult. While the themes and premises of the sto ries we find interesting way be quite similar (e.g friendship and betrayal), the setting and everythin g in it may vary from a Hollywood-style cyber-futur e, to ancient China; from Nordic mythology to African legend. In terms of ontology engineering, the consequences are profound, and can be reformulated in the position that every narration in effect may have its own ontology, not characterized by its interoperability or mergeabil ity with a common sense view of the world, but characterized by mimetic tra nsformations of it. The function of mimesis is complicated, and subject to issues not easily accou nted for. Thus, the presence of fantastic life form s (dragons, unicorns, and centaurs) is readily accept ed, as are the magical aids in tales and fables, bu t other constructions are not acceptable, such as spending the same gold twice. In this respect, the innermost layer of the model i s the most sensitive to other descriptions because it is this layer that typically will interface with lo cal ontologies. The structuring of this layer there fore must have a double objective: 1) to account for structur al relations between theoretical elements, and 2) t o provide a sound construction that may function as a n upper ontology for local descriptions of text. The extreme variety in the nature of story worlds i s, however, balanced by comparatively strict rules and structures, not sustained by the inner wo rkings of the particular worlds, but by the pragmat ic conditions under which they are constructed. Story worlds are all created with the intent to communica te something in narrative form, and hence, they all sh are similarities. Similarities in story worlds have historically been described at different levels: by physical attributes such as space and time, by distinctions between events (actions and happenings) and descrip tion

(setting and characters), and by role types such as hero and villain. But normally, these distinctions are not integrated into a larger whole. In a larger ont ology that accommodates these various distinctions it becomes possible to refine and compare results deri ved from one set of analytical premises with those of another. 7 6. Evaluation and future directions In the final ontology, the top of which can be seen in a reduced form in fig 5, the concepts are not distributed evenly over the three top-level categor ies. This is due to the fact that the material refl ects a significant focus on matters relating to the level of discourse. Approximately half the concepts deal with the level of mediation and discourse, one-fourth wi th the level of action, and one-fourth with the lev el of nonfictional communication. This result can be seen as a validation of the use of the model in the sen se that the top-level distinctions are suitable instru ments in accounting for the concepts in the domain, and that the meta-model is of such qualities that the d istinctions made here actually reflect the nature o f the domain. The analysis of theoretical concepts have s hown that structures in definitions may be used as the foundation in formalizing complex and interrelated terms. It has also shown that a large body of conce pts can be represented in a consistent and coherent fra mework. The ontology is available from [17]. Events Focus of narration Plot Voice Character T Level of action Level of discourse Point of view Existents Level of nonfictional communication Imported theories Interpretation Meta-analytical concepts Genre Order Duration Narrative devices Role Speech act theory Semiotics Narrator

Acts Happenings Foregrounding Suspence Setting Fig. 5. Structure of the upper part of the ontology The ontology presented here contains a significant number of key notions used in narratology, and cover many basic notions as well as their derived f orms. However, many other theories and taxonomies are also available, and may benefit from this frame work, or from similar investigations. As the number of efforts involving narrative terms and concepts grow , the need for formal methods to relate these also increases. Narrative ontologies seem to provide the means to do so. 7. References 1. Abbot, H.P., The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative . 2002: Cambridge University Press. 2. Aristotle, Poetics. Translated by S.H. Butcher , University of Washington . 3. Barthes, R., Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrativ es , in Image - Music - Text . 1977, Hill and Wang. p. 79-124. 4. Chatman, S., Story and Discourse . 1980: Cornell University Press. 5. Crampes, M., J.P. Veuillez, and S. Ranwez. Adaptive Narrative Abstraction . in HyperText 98 . 1998. Pittsburgh, PA USA. 6. Dorfman, E., The Narrame in the Midieval Romance Epic . 1969: University of Toronto Press. 7. Dou, D., D. McDermott, and P. Qi, Ontology Translation on the Semantic Web , in Proc. Int l Conf. on Ontologies, Databases and Applications of Semantics , R. Meersman, Z. Tari, and D.C. Schmidt, Editors. 2003, Springer-Verlag LNCS 2888. p. 952-969. 8 8. Figa, E. and P. Tarau. Story Traces and Projections: Exploring the Pattern s of Storytelling . in Conference Proceedings. Technologies for Interactiv

e Digital Storytelling and Entertainment . 2003. Darmstadt, Germany: Fraunhofer IRB Verlag. 9. Ganter, B. and R. Wille, Applied Lattice Theory: Formal Concept Analysis . 1997: Available at: 10. Geurts, J., et al., Towards Ontology-driven Discourse: From Semantic Gr aphs to Multimedia Presentations , in Second Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2003), Sanibel Island, Florida, USA . 2003. 11. Green, N.L., Designing an Ontology for Artificial Intelligence i n the Narrative Arts , in Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Entertainment Papers f rom 2002 AAAI Spring Symposium , K. Forbus and M.S. El-Nasr, Editors. 2002, AAAI Press. p. 39-40. 12. Jahn, M., Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. Pa rt III of Poems, Plays, and Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. 2003: English Department, University of Cologne 13. McQuillan, M., ed. The Narrative Reader . 2000, Routledge. 14. Millard, D., et al., Hyperdoc: An Adaptive Narrative System for Dynamic Multimedia Presentations . 2003, Technical Report ECSTR-IAM02-006 Electronic s and Computer Science, University of Southampton. 15. Onega, S. and J.Á.G. Landa, eds. Narratology: An Introduction . 1996, Longman. 16. Prince, G., A Dictionary of Narratology . 1987: University of Nebraska Press. 17. Schärfe, H., Ontology of Narratological Terms . 2004, 18. Stumme, G. and A. Mädche, FCA-Merge: Bottum-Up Merging of Ontologies , in Proc. 17th Intl. Conf. on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 01), Seattl e, USA , B. Nebel, Editor. 2001. p. 225-230.

19. Szilas, N., Interactive Drama on Computer: Beyond Linear Narrat ive , in Narrative Intelligence. Papers from the 1999 AAAI Fall Symposium , M. Mateas and P. Sengers, Editors. 1999, AAAI Press. 20. Tomashevsky, B., Thematics , in Russian Formalist Criticism , L.T. Lemon and M.J. Reis, Editors. 1965, University of Nebraska Press. p. 61-95. 21. Zarri, G.P., NKRL, a knowledge representation tool for encoding the  meaning  of complex narrative texts , in rs.Nkrl/Nkrl.1997.pdf . 1997. 22. Zarri, G.P., Metadata, a  Semantic  Approach , in DEXA 99, LNCS 1699 , T. Bench-Capon, G. Soda, and A.M. Tjoa, Editors. 1999, Springer-Verlag . p. 646-655. 23. Zarri, G.P., A Conceptual Model for Representing Narratives , in df . 2002. 24. Øhrstrøm, P. and H. Schärfe, A Priorean Approach to Time Ontologies , in Conceptual Structures at Work: 12th International Conference o n Conceptual Structures, ICCS 2004 , K.E. Wolff, H.D. Pfeiffer, and H.S. Delugach, Editors. 2 004, LNAI 3127, Springer Verlag. p. 388401. More Information Less Information Close