LINGUIST List 23.2904

Mon Jul 02 2012

Diss: Disc Analysis/Pragmatics/Socioling/Writing Systems: Watanabe: 'Character Introduction and Establishment in Japanese Narratives'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <>

Date: 02-Jul-2012
From: Noriko Watanabe <>
Subject: Character Introduction and Establishment in Japanese Narratives
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Institution: University at Buffalo Program: Department of Linguistics Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 1998

Author: Noriko Watanabe

Dissertation Title: Character Introduction and Establishment in Japanese Narratives

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis                             Pragmatics                             Sociolinguistics                             Writing Systems
Subject Language(s): English (eng)                             Japanese (jpn)
Dissertation Director:
Dennis Tedlock Madelaine Mathiot David A. Zubi
Dissertation Abstract:

The present thesis investigates linguistic patterns that serve thefunctional goals of introducing and establishing characters in Japanesenarrative. It also discusses the pragmatic processes that are involvedin the interpretation of the linguistic forms as character introductionsand establishments. Examples are drawn from a spoken genre,rakugo, as well as from several written narrative genres. Linguisticpatterns identified in this study show that both in spoken and writtennarrative there are several forms that serve the functional goals ofcharacter introduction and establishment. The linguistic patterns arefound in two different discourse types, i.e., narration and directdiscourse of characters. Previous linguistic studies of characterestablishment, or participant tracking, paid attention mostly to only onetype of discourse, i.e., narration. The present study documents thatdirect discourse also carries a significant functional load in fulfilling themajor functions in narrative, especially in spoken narrative. The widerange of linguistic patterns thus found are then analyzed according totwo different modes of presentation, which are termed the descriptivemode and the dramatistic modes.

This thesis uncovered new patterns, including the ga-cleft construction,use of wa-marked nominals in the first mention, use of address termsand the first part of adjacency pair. Linguistic patterns of characterestablishment show that the referential progression pattern discussedin Hinds & Hinds (1979) is rare both in well-rehearsed spokenstorytelling and in written stories. Characters can be establishedthrough direct discourse without any narration, especially in the genreof rakugo.

This dissertation examines the concept of introduction further byanalyzing the role of pre-narrative discourse in contexualization ofnarrative. Rakugo storytelling performances shed light on theimportance of overall framing of a story in character introduction. Theprelude to rakugo storytelling performance, i.e., makura, functions tomake a transition into a displaced spatio-temporal deictic center of astory. Makura is compared to prefacing in casual conversationalnarrative in Japanese, and also it is cross-linguistically compared topre-narrative framing in storytelling practices in other cultures.

Page Updated: 02-Jul-2012