Małgorzata Niziołek

Lexical and syntactic matrix of a crime novel – a scene of a crime

In my speech, I will present a view that a novel consists of a specific set of words found in constructions that constitute the basis of the work and are repeated in different variants in each novel. They form a skeleton / schematic of the genre which makes for its recognition.
The experience of our research (formed on the analysis of Polish-French corpus of crime novels) allows us to believe that modern technologies and related language description methodologies will allow us to unravel the structure of a criminal novel precisely by analyzing the language: selection of lexis, lexical-syntactic constructs, sequences of these structures in a specific thematic component, etc. Each criminal novel can be divided thematically into normative scenes, necessary and extractable by means of key words.
These words form sequences of mandatory concepts, thanks to which a given fragment of the text is identified as a description of a scene of a crime. At the same time, they form a “semantic theme”, which, however, takes various forms in the text, e.g. a body can be described by means of a detailed description of its parts, their state, arrangement etc. (e.g. “The girl had her eyes closed and her lips were blue. Her face was not massacred, but it was already set. The mouth parted in an unnatural grimace, resembling a ghostly smile. Despite the visible raindrops, it was easy to recognize her, although the body did not look like a sweet girl from search posters. The head was slightly turned to one side, hands unnaturally entwined … ” (K. Bonda, Florystka, 2015: 217) unofficial translation)
Simplifying: shifting the weight of the novel to one of the co-existing concepts gives variants of the novel known as, for example, psychological (developed theme of the character), detective (investigation) or thriller (crime) novel. The absence of some themes or disruption of the linearity triggers the process of inference, i.e. bringing to reconstruction of the semantic scheme of the novel.