2. Is "remember" a universal human concept? "Memory" and culture

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Speaking of “elementary notions, common to everyone in the human race, that can be expressed in all languages”, Umberto Eco (2000: 87–88) states: “Most certainly, every man has a notion of what it means to (. . .) to remember”. This paper argues that Eco is mistaken and that ‘remembering’ is not a universal human concept but a cultural construct, shared by some languages but not others. It also shows that culture-specifi c concepts like ‘remember’ and ‘memory’ can be explained and compared through genuinely elementary and universal notions such as <i>know</i>, <i>think</i> and <i>before</i> (that is, through ‘ <i>nsm</i>’). To illustrate these general themes, the paper offers a detailed analysis of the Polish fi eld of ‘memory’, linking Polish semantics with Polish history and culture.


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