Monday, May 04, 2015

Short-term memory and antecedents

The relevant aspect of Kintsch’s theory for present purposes is the concept of working memory, which includes short-term memory as well as a section of long-term memory. Long-term memory, storing knowledge, beliefs, and experience, is a network of propositions, a large and intricately interconnected structure. Short-term working memory, in contrast, is an extremely small buffer containing up to four or perhaps seven “chunks” of information—about the amount of information contained in a single sentence (Kintsch 1998: 217, 411). Strictly speaking, the only information that is activated is the proposition currently in short-term working memory. This is not the only memory available to the reader, however. The reader also has near-instant access to all of the propositions in long-term memory that are directly linked to the proposition in the short-term memory. These easily retrievable propositions constitute the long-term working memory. Propositions in long-term working memory can be easily activated and placed in short-term memory and are known as accessible propositions.— Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew Finite Clause, page 95

<idle musing>
Not to play the devil's advocate—I really do agree with what she's saying here—but what about the Greek tendency to let the antecedents of pronouns be pages away? When I first started reading Greek (30+ years ago now!), that was the thing that tripped me up more than anything else. The antecedent could be way back when and we were supposed to catch it?

I got used to it, and it actually bled into my English writing. I would repeatedly get comments on my papers saying, "Antecedent unclear." Yep. It was. Blame it on the Greek : ) Even now, I have to watch carefully or I allow antecedents to wallow in unclarity...
</idle musing>

No comments: