The space between forgetting and remembering

An investigation of the use of ‘negation+forget’ in personal stories of Rwandan orphans


  • Hagit Evan-Rifinski Bar-Ilan University



personal stories, Rwanda, Genocide, orphans, negation forget, Appraisal, quantifiers of time, dialogism


This article examines the reoccurring dialogic structure ‘negation+forget’ in stories written by adolescent orphans living in the shadow of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. The employment of Appraisal, a detailed systematic framework of evaluative language has provided insights into their memories. The analysis identifies two major targets the narrators cannot, or will not forget: (a) distant memories of their parents, and (b) specific memories of growing up as orphans. The dialogic resources in the construction demonstrate that the writers clearly reject any form of putting aside their painful memories, despite public voices which call for doing so in the spirit of national reconciliation. The significance of the appearance of ‘negation+forget’, mainly in specific story stages, is also discussed. Finally, the analysis distinguishes between the use of ‘negation+forget’ and remember, and contends that the former is used to refer to deep emotional memories. The article suggests that ‘negation+forget’+quantifiers of time (never, all my life) may signal emotional hotspots in personal accounts.

Author Biography

  • Hagit Evan-Rifinski, Bar-Ilan University

    Hagit Evan-Rifinski holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Bar-Ilan University where she heads the TESOL Certification Program.


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How to Cite

Evan-Rifinski, H. (2021). The space between forgetting and remembering: An investigation of the use of ‘negation+forget’ in personal stories of Rwandan orphans. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 14(3), 298-318.