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Language and Narrative Pa

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Aleksandra Serwotka

on 19 April 2017

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Transcript of Language and Narrative Pa

Language and Narrative Patterns
in Selected Creepypastas

Anna Stwora
Institute of English
University of Silesia

Outline of the presentation
1. Introduction.
1.1 Creepypasta - definition.
1.2 Language of the Internet.
1.3 Narrative patterns.
2. Analysis.
2.1 Creepypasta - categories.
2.2 Tales of experiments (English).
2.3 Ghastly files (French).
3. Conclusions.
3.1 Comparison.
3.2 Conclusions concerning the language of the Internet.
3.3 Foreign language learning/teaching.
Tales of experiments - creepypastas in English
written in such a way so as to resemble an unbiased, scientific article of varied length (ca. 500 - 2000 words)
Ghastly files - creepypastas in French
Aleksandra Serwotka
Institute of Romance Languages
and Translation Studies
University of Silesia

urban legends - horror folktales
impossible to trace the origin
contemporary horror fiction
emotional response from the reader: fear, anxiety
Language of the Internet
negative and positive aspects (grammatical rules vs. creativity)
computer-mediated communication
influence of English
Narrative pattern
structural framework: general, well-established rules of writing a story
characters, plot, setting,
(Propp 1968)
"Horror, as a genre, is particularly well established and robust.”
(Chess, Newsom 2015)
distinctive discourse features
, i.e. “the structural organization of a text, defined in terms of such factors as coherence, relevance, paragraph structure, and the logical progression of ideas.” (Crystal 2006)
Creepypastas: typology
(main categories)
1. Instructions/rituals.
2. Supernatural beings.
3. Tales of experiments.
4. Ghastly files.
Different categories can merge/hybridize.
General narrative pattern
1. Research idea.
2. Choosing a subject/subjects.
3. Performing an experiment/operation/providing
the subject(s) with a substance. Suffering.
4. Strange behaviour of the subject(s).
5. Supernatural occurrence.
6. Death or disappearance (of the scientist(s)
or the subject(s)).

The order may differ slightly.
non-personal lens
pseudoscientific language, objectivity, and impersonal account
Blood Freezing Experiment
-> “Other things that have to happen in order for the blood to solidify include increasing the amount of blood plasma from 55% to 59%. Modified blood cells when oxygenated constitute percentages of 96%, therefore the subject has to breathe deeper or more often.”
1st person narrative also possible - the style becomes more colloquial
-> “I know that sounds strange, but it was fun. (…) He was, in short, fucking terrifying.”
1st person narrative - "interactivity" between the narrator and the reader (colloquial language and questions posed by the narrator)
3rd person narrative - distance
Gateway of the Mind
-> “Although the test subject retained full muscular function, he could not see” / “to elicit a pain response” / “his vital signs stopped”

Tenses applied
Past Simple and Past Continuous
Present Perfect applied only several times
widespread passive constructions
Present Simple, Perfect or Continuous being used in the 1st person narrative
Gateway of the Mind
-> “I have spoken with God, and He has abandoned us.”
Figurative language
hardly any metaphorical expressions
few examples
Gateway of the Mind
-> “They believed that the five senses
our awareness of eternity” / “his consciousness was
by hundreds of voices”
The Russian Sleep Experiment
-> “
We are the madness
that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind.”
Mistakes concerning grammar, style, punctuation etc.
grammar mistakes - rare
The ‘Giver’ Experiment
-> “Everybody
whom of which
has read the classic novel The Giver wonders the same thing: What if this was real?”
frequent punctuation mistakes
-> “I woke up from my stupor back in the room, strapped into the bed, music blaring, with my doppelganger standing over me
The Russian Sleep Experiment
-> “His vocal cords destroyed
he was unable to beg or object to surgery, and he only reacted by shaking his head violently in disapproval”
Stylistic peculiarities
(Farhad 2014; Chess, Newsom 2015; Brzostek 2016)
(Crystal 2006)
relative shortness of sentences
graphic descriptions (adjectives, adverbs)
Happy Puppet Syndrome
-> “To look at a child and to see it twitch sporadically and laugh excessively is a haunting thing. Two of my colleagues had already quit because they could not stand it. I never heard from them afterwards. They are most likely dead.”
lexical items pertaining to violence, bodily organs or tissues, and self-inclined wounds
(despite the impersonal mode)
occasional swear words
varied length (300 - 4000 words), and quality
several translations from English
English-sounding titles with file extensions (e.g.

General narrative pattern
1. Finding the file (video, game, website).
2. Opening the file.
3. Warning.
4. Disbelief.
5. Negative consequences (based on some kind of interaction between the virtual world and reality).
6. (Images of) suicide/death.

The order may also differ slightly.
subjective: 1st person narrative
the narrator is usually autodiegetic
-> “Un soir,je rentrais du collège.J'étais épuisé!”

(“One evening I was going back from school. I was exhausted!”)
male narrators more frequent than female ones
personal experiences:
colloquial language, descriptions of feelings, swear words, exclamations
numerous references to the reader:
"vous" more frequent than "tu"
*original spelling maintained in all quotations
Some stories break the creepypasta convention
-> “P.S.: Cette creepypasta n'est en aucun cas faite pour insulter ou changer l'image de The Rev. Il est l'un de mes idoles et je sentais que quelqu'un devait faire une creepy sur lui. Après tout, l'un de ces surnoms est Fiction, n'est-ce pas?”
(“P.S. By no means does this creepypasta aim at insulting or changing the image of The Rev. He is one of my idols and I felt like someone had to create a creepypasta about him. After all, one of his nicknames was Fiction, wasn’t it?”)
Tenses applied
inconsistency (Passé Composé and Passé Simple in one phrase)
Squiward’s Suicide
-> “Bob l'éponge dit "OK" puis s'en alla . Après les bulles de transition, nous nous sommes retrouvés à la fin du concert de Carlos. C'est là que les choses ont commencé à mal tourner.”
(“Sponge Bob said ‘OK’ and went away. After the transition bubbles, we found ourselves at the end of Carlos’s concert. It was then that the things started to go wrong.”)
a whole range of grammatical tenses (oralization?)
Samuel Cut Throat : Second fantôme Du GTA
-> “Je reculait de quelques pas, le garçon s'avance vers moi d'un regard menaçant, il sortis un couteau de sa poche de short, il va me trancher la gorge .”
(Literally: “I was retreating a few steps, the boy approaches me with a threatening look, he took out a knife from the pocket of his shorts, he’s going to cut my throat.”)
Neologisms and borrowings
titles in English
Mario curse of death
Life is short.avi
borrowings from English, and/or instances of ‘francisation” of English words
Troll Nightmare.zip
– “hacker” – to hack, “freezer” – to freeze, and the like)
English words or phrases, sometimes written in an incorrect manner
-> “We have all types of victims : children, yound ladys and gentlemen, pregnant women, old people.”
English-sounding names
(e.g. Eva, Chris, Ariel)
Mistakes concerning grammar,
style, punctuation etc.
tense use
incorrect verb forms
- “apparu” instead of “apparut”, where the final consonant is not pronounced;
- “voulu” instead of “voulut”
- “retrouver” instead of “retrouvé”
numerous spelling mistakes
, usually consisting in skipping the final letter “e”
punctuation far from correct
(e.g. spaces before commas, inconsistency)
SpinDash Pro - 141.687.066.45
1 -> "La douleur est pas connue»
(“The pain isn’t known”)
Stylistic peculiarities
graphic descriptions of violence
Squivard’s suicide
-> “Ce qu'il vit était horrible. C'était une image d'un enfant mort qui ne devait avoir pas plus de 6 ans. Le visage était ensanglanté et un œil était exorbité. Il était en sous-vêtements, éventré, avec ses entrailles à côté de lui. Il était sur une sorte de pavement qui était probablement une route.”
(“What he saw was horrible. It was an image of a dead child who couldn’t be older than 6 years. His face was covered in blood and one of his eyes was gouged. He was in underwear, disembowelled, with his guts beside him. He was lying on some kind of pavement, which was probably a road.”)
Internet language features
the accumulation of punctuation marks
-> “Oh mon dieu...Maintenant,je vus la tête d'une personne en train de découper en morceaux ... .... ... ... ... ...”
(“Oh my god… Now, I saw the head of a person cutting into pieces…”)
capitalization of items
->“(...) il était en train de VOLER !”
(“ (...) he was FLYING!”)
graphic elements
-> “+/-” instead of “plus ou moins”
("more or less")
- the already mentioned
incorporation of English vocabulary
and its modification to suit national language standards

Thank you for you attention!
1. Comparison
2.Conclusions concerning the language
of the Internet
large diversity
creativity (creative identities)
two approaches: grammatical, sociological
3.Foreign language learning/teaching
creepypasta as a language learning/teaching tool (education + entertainment)
creative writing, vocabulary
certain modifications for teaching purposes are necessary (grammatical correctness, language level)
teaching multilingual students
Barthes Roland. Introduction à l'analyse structurale des récits. In: Communications, 8, 1966. Recherches sémiologiques : l'analyse structurale du récit. pp. 1-27.
Chess, S., Newsom, E. Folklore, Horror Stories, and the Slender Man. The Development of an Internet Mythology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan2015
accessed March 10, 2017 https://books.google.pl/books?id=xuGvBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT73&hl=pl&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false
Crystal, David - Language and the Internet Cambridge, New York, etc.: Cambridge University Press 2006.
Manjoo, Farhad (July 10, 2014). "Urban Legends Told Online". Section B; Column 0; Business/Financial Desk; Pg. 1: The New York Times.
Panek, A.nna„ Język w przestrzeni Internetu”.accessed March 10, 2017 http://socialspacejournal.eu/11%20numer/Panek%20-%20J%C4%99zyk%20w%20przestrzeni%20internetu.pdf
Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. 1928. 2nd ed. Trans. Lawrence Scott.
Selden, Raman; Widdowson, Peter Brooker. A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. 2004. Published by London: Prentice Hall.
What is Narrative Structure? In Point - the on-line production resource at Pacific Cinémathèque. Accessed March 11, 2017 from the website:

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