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“How old am I?”

Forgetting Facts About Oneself
  • Heidi E. Hamilton
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, we explore key discursive patterns that underlie interactions that contain evidence of problems with memory about the self and closely related domains. Toward this end, we first situate the examination of autobiographical facts within what has been termed ‘semantic memory’ (Eichenbaum, The cognitive neuroscience of memory (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012; Tulving, Episodic and semantic memory. In E. Tulving & W. Donaldson (Eds.), Organization of memory. Oxford: Academic, 1972) and link it to an alternative perspective that looks beyond such facts to focus instead on “the moral points of a lived life” (Hydén and Örulv, Journal of Aging Studies, 23, 205–214, 2009). In subsequent sections, we examine the resourcefulness displayed by individuals with dementia as they work their way toward the autobiographical facts in questions; characterize strategies used by conversational partners as they propose candidate answers (Pomerantz, Communication Monographs, 55, 360–373, 1988) or ‘speak for’ (Schiffrin, ‘Speaking for another’ in sociolinguistic interviews. In D. Tannen (Ed.), Framing in discourse (pp. 231–259). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) the person with dementia; explore the accounts and evaluations given by individuals with dementia when they are unable to come up with the autobiographical fact for which they have been searching; and close with a focus on face-saving strategies used by conversational partners in response to instances of forgetting, as they offer accounts, dismiss the need for the fact in question, normalize the instance of forgetting, or affirm and build on the instance of forgetting.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi E. Hamilton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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