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LINGUIST List 19.3824

Sat Dec 13 2008

Diss: Anthro Ling: Harrison: 'Directives in Lingala: Participation ...'

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        1.    Annette Harrison, Directives in Lingala: Participation and subjectivity in a Congolese women's church group

Message 1: Directives in Lingala: Participation and subjectivity in a Congolese women's church group
Date: 12-Dec-2008
From: Annette Harrison <annette_harrisonsil.org>
Subject: Directives in Lingala: Participation and subjectivity in a Congolese women's church group
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Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Annette R. Harrison

Dissertation Title: Directives in Lingala: Participation and subjectivity in a Congolese women's church group

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Lingala (lin)

Dissertation Director:
Mary Bucholtz
John E. Stark
Marianne Mithun
John W. Du Bois

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation explores directives in Lingala as expressions of
subjectivity during participation in social activities. The linguistic
forms of directives and their distribution in interaction reflect the group
members' concerns for how an activity is to proceed and how each one will
participate. Directives are subjective in that they reflect participants'
perceptions and judgments (cf. C. Goodwin 2007; M.H. Goodwin 1990, 2006a,
2006b). Speaker subjectivity affects the distribution and function of three
verbal suffixes in Lingala; these reflect the speaker's degree of certainty
concerning the management of participation in an activity. Finally, this
study examines the cumulative effects of the use of directives on the
social organization of a Congolese women's church group.

Lingala is a Bantu contact language spoken by over ten million first- and
second-language speakers in the Congo basin of western central Africa. The
data were gathered from a multilingual, multiethnic group of women who are
members of an African Indigenous Church in the Republic of Congo.
Ethnographic methods governed how the data were collected; the
transcription of conversations and meetings served as a first step in
analysis. I relied on principles of conversation analysis, discourse
analysis and the analysis of the frequencies and distributions of types of
utterances to determine the grammatical forms of directives and the
patterns of their use in three interactional contexts.

The study begins with a description of the ethnographic context, including
the region's history, the languages and gender of the participants and the
religious context of their interactions. The analysis focuses on three
directive forms: rhetorical questions, coordinating commands and ritual
language used in prayer. For each type of directive I discuss the
relationship between the form and its interactional context and provide
examples that illustrate its structural features and how participants
recognize them as directives, as well as discussing the source of their
directive force. The use of these directives requires experience in the
church context, knowledge of the interactional practices of the group and
accompanying linguistic skills, which are unequally distributed among the
group's members and produce a social organization dominated by the most
knowledgeable and experienced members.

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