Toward Sequencing “Narrative DNA”: Tale Types, Motif Strings and Memetic Pathways
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Toward Sequencing “Narrative DNA”: Tale Types, Motif Strings and Memetic Pathways

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The Aarne-Thompson-Uther Tale Type Catalog (ATU) is a bibliographic tool which uses metadata from tale content, called motifs, to define tale types as canonical motif sequences. The motifs themselves ...

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther Tale Type Catalog (ATU) is a bibliographic tool which uses metadata from tale content, called motifs, to define tale types as canonical motif sequences. The motifs themselves are listed in another bibliographic tool, the Aarne-Thompson Motif Index (AaTh). Tale types in ATU are defined in an abstracted fashion and can be processed like a corpus. We analyzed 219 types with 1202 motifs from the “Tales of magic” (types 300-749) segment to exemplify that motif sequences show signs of recombination in the storytelling process. Compared to chromosome mutations in genetics, we offer examples for insertion/deletion, duplication and, possibly, transposition, whereas the sample was not sufficient to find inverted motif strings as well. These initial findings encourage efforts to sequence motif strings like DNA in genetics, attempting to find for instance the longest common motif subsequences in tales. Expressing the network of motif connections by graphs suggests that tale plots as consolidated pathways of content help one memorize culturally engraved messages. We anticipate a connection between such networks and Waddington’s epigenetic landscape.

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Toward Sequencing “Narrative DNA”: Tale Types, Motif Strings and Memetic Pathways Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Toward Sequencing“Narrative DNA”: TaleTypes, Motif Stringsand Memetic Pathways Sándor Darányi, Peter Wittek & László Forró† Swedish School of Library and Information Science University of Borås 50190 Borås, Allégatan 1, Sweden †8220 Balatonalmádi, Remetevölgyi út 27, Hungary
  • 2. Acknowledgements• AMICUS project 2009-2012 (Automated Motif Discovery in Cultural Heritage and Scientific Communication Texts, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO Humanities) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 2
  • 3. Structure of presentationI. Frame of thought, concepts usedII. Experiment designIII. ResultsIV. Future research directions CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 3
  • 4. I. Frame of thought, concepts used • Examples of formulaity • Standard tools in tale research • What is a motif? • The genetic-memetic parallel CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 4
  • 5. Examples of formulaity (= structure) in narrative research• Propp (1929): Russian fairy tales have 7 actors (dramatis personae), 31 functions (types of actions) and 150 narrative elements• Lévi-Strauss (1954): both narrative segments in myths, and myth variants, manifest canonical content transformations• Harris (1998): Disciplinary scientific content can be expressed by sentences of abstract concepts CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 5
  • 6. Standard reference works for tale researchATU: Uther, H. J. 2004. The Types of International AaTh: Thompson, S. 1955-1958. Motif-Index ofFolktales. A Classification and Bibliography. Based Folk-Literature 1–6. Indiana University Press,on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson1–3 (FFC 284–286). Academia Scientiarum Fennica, Bloomington.Helsinki. • TALES OF MAGIC, SUPERNATURAL • B312. /Helpful animals obtained by purchase ADVERSARIES 300-399 or gift./ • Tale type 300: The Dragon-Slayer. “A youth • B312.1. /Helpful animals a gift./ German acquires (e.g. by exchange) three wonderful Grimm No. 60, 126; Irish myth: Cross; Spanish: dogs [B421, B312.2]. He comes to a town Boggs FFC XC 40 No. 300; Icel.: Boberg, Þiðriks where people are mourning and learns that saga I 314--18; India: Thompson-Balys; once a year a (seven-headed) dragon Japanese: Ikeda. [B11.2.3.1] demands a virgin as a sacrifice • B312.2. /Helpful animals obtained by [B11.10, S262]. In the current year, the kings exchange./ *Type 300; *Hartland Perseus III daughter has been chosen to be sacrificed, 195; De Gubernatis Zool. Myth. III 36 n.--N. A. and the king offers her as a prize to her Indian: Thompson CColl II 329ff. rescuer [T68.1]. The youth goes to the • B312.3. /Helpful animal(s) bequeathed to appointed place. While waiting to fight with hero./ Italian Novella: Rotunda; India: the dragon, he falls into a magic sleep Thompson-Balys; Africa (Hausa): Best Black [D1975], during which the princess twists a Folk Tales 71ff., Tremearne Hausa Superstitions ring (ribbons) into his hair; only one of her and Customs 374ff. No. 79; Madagascar: falling tears can awaken him [D1978. 2]. (…)” (Marofotsy) Renel Contes de Madagascar I 65ff. No. 9. (…) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 6
  • 7. What is a motif ? CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 7
  • 8. Argumentation• From ”narrative DNA” (Bruce 1996, cf. postmoderns) to ”narrative genomics ”(Malec)• Perceived formal similarities between genetic code and ”memetic code” in tale types – Memes (Dawkins 1976): • An idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture • Self-replicating unit of cultural transmission with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution – ”Memetic pathway”: memory engraving by frequency- (repetition-)- based content• If pertinent, the above make DNA sequencing techniques applicable to motif sequences• Benefits: – Memetics is short of measurable evidence – Narrative analysis is short of evolutionary modelling tools – Tale types as metadata may bridge the gap CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 8
  • 9. Ingredients: tale types as motif sequences300 The Dragon-Slayer. B421 B312.2 B11.2.3.1 B11.10 S262 T68.1 D1975 D1978.2 B11.11300A The Fight on the Bridge. T511.5.1 F601 B631 B11.2.3.2 B11.2.3.3 B11.2.3.5 B11.2.3 B11.11 B401301 The Three Stolen Princesses. H1385.1 F102.1 N773 B631 T615 F601 F451.5.2 F92 F96301D* The Princesss Ring T68.1 B11.11 K1933 C611 H94 L161302 The Ogres (Devils)Heart in the Egg. B393 B500 D1834 R11.1 D152.2 D182.2 E710 K975.2 E711.1302B Life Dependent on a Sword. T510 F601 T11.2 E711.10302C* The Magic Horse. C611303 The Twins Or Blood-Brothers. T511.5.1 T511.1.1 T512 T589.7.1 E761 R111.1.3 K1932 H83 L161303A Brothers Seek Sisters as Wives. T69.1 D231 R11.1 E715.1 R155.1304 The Dangerous Night-Watch. F666.1 K912 H83 N711.2 H81.1 H81.1.1 T475.2 Q481 H11.1.1305 The Dragons Heart-Blood as Remedy. D1500.1.7.3.3 K1935306 The Danced-out Shoes. H508.2 D1980 K625.1 D2131 F1015.1.1 H80 L161 F87307 The Princess in the Coffin. C758.1 S223 E251 N825.2 D791.1.7 L162310 The Maiden in the Tower (Petrosinella, Rapunzel). G279.2 S222.1 G204 R41.2 F848.1 F555 N455 D642.7 L162311 Rescue by the Sister. R11.1 T721.5 C611 C227 C913 C920 R157.1 G561 K525311B* The Singing Bag. K526312 Maiden-Killer (Bluebeard). S62.1 C611 C920 K551 G551.1 G652312D Rescue by the Brother. T511.3 F611.1313 The Magic Flight. B261 S222 S222 S240 G465 H1104 H1113 H1154.8 H335.0.1314 Goldener. S211 G462 B316 C611 C912 D672 B184.1.6 G461 C912314A The Shepherd and the Three Giants. D817 L113.1.4 G500 B184.1 R222 L161 CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 9
  • 10. Mutant screening in genetics: Kinds of mutation 1 (DNA) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 10
  • 11. Kinds of mutation 2 (chromosomes) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 11
  • 12. Kinds of mutation 3 (chromosomes) With tale types as motif sequences, we can answer questions like: – Are there repeated motif substrings? – Are there inverted motif substrings? – Etc. These are important for plot formation. CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 12
  • 13. The genetic-memetic parallelAlphabet Buildup Result Alphabet Buildup ResultNucleotide  Amino acid Character  Lexeme (?)sequence sequenceAmino acid  Gene Lexeme (?)  Meme/motifsequence sequenceGene  Chromosome Meme/motif  Story/talesequence sequenceChromosome  Cell Story/tale set  Corpusset (inherent (inherent but not but not sufficient) sufficient?) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 13
  • 14. II. Experiment design• Instead of natural language (original) texts, metadata used: tale types from ATU and motifs from AaTh – Zooming in = decreased content granularity• Tale types as motif strings, processed as a corpus• Binary vs. frequency-based matrix of 219 types x 1202 motifs (“Tales of magic” (types 300-749))• Block (2-mode) clustering for motif co-occurrence analysis (HCE-3)• Manual screening of motif strings for mutation types• Network analysis and visualization CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 14
  • 15. III. Results• Findings are indicative, however: – Top observation unit not motifs but collocated motif co- occurrences (multiplets) – Motif sequences show signs of recombination in the storytelling process with chromosome mutation types mostly there in a limited sample – Motif strings form highly complex networks CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 15
  • 16. Motif multiplets• Tale types are a shorthand for the originals• Motifs sometimes co-occur in tale types, i.e. motifs are not the ultimate observation units CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 16
  • 17. CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 17
  • 18. Tale type and chromosome mutations are similar• On a 219 types x 1202 motifs sample, hints found at insertion/deletion, duplication and, possibly, transposition, whereas the sample was not sufficient to find inversion as well• Screening on a larger sample is necessary CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 18
  • 19. Tale mutant screening: The needle in the haystack CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 19
  • 20. IV. Future research directions• Sequence mining is feasible - find longest common motif subsequences in motif strings as if they were DNA CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 20
  • 21. Motif network processing and visualization• Network points to fitness landscape, and to evolutionary algorithms, GA and GP• The network of motif connections by directed graphs suggests that tale plots as consolidated pathways of content help one memorize culturally engraved messages• Identifying plot direction with graph direction, we anticipate a connection between such networks and fitness landscapes (e.g. Waddington’s epigenetic landscape) CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 21
  • 22. Toward storytelling as a landscapeTranslate motif chains to a Convert the directed graph into adirected graph fitness landscape CMN-12 Istanbul -- May 26, 2012 22
  • 23. Thank you for your attention! Borås, 11.05.2012