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Mlčet, smlčet, odmlčet se – Sprechen über das Schweigen

Katrin Unrath-Scharpenack

This article deals with the question, in which cases silence is regarded as a really self-evident part of communication and in which cases it is felt as embarrassing and painful. In this context it is looked into, how narrators, authors and fictitious characters are talking about silence in literary texts. First it can be found out, that silence is regulated by cultural and social rules. Furthermore, silence is connected with the frame of action in which it takes place. Moreover, silence can be conventional within groups on the basis of a great intimacy. In a large number of these cases silence is self-evident, which means, that it is not ambiguous and is not felt as embarrassing. If silence is not self-explaining, based on norms and conventions, it is ambiguous. It can stand for a positive or a negative meaning. Very often this ambiguous silence is felt as painful, because it shows that communication is not free of troubles. In such cases silence is a sign of communicative failure.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik. VIII. JungslavistInnen-Treffen München 1999. Hg. Florence Maurice und Imke Mendoza. München: Sagner 2000 (= Specimina Philologiae Slavicae 131), 197–215.