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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Character Introduction and Establishment in Japanese Narratives Add Dissertation
Author: Noriko Watanabe Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University at Buffalo, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics; Writing Systems;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Madeleine Mathiot
David Zubi
Dennis Tedlock

Abstract: The present thesis investigates linguistic patterns that serve the
functional goals of introducing and establishing characters in Japanese
narrative. It also discusses the pragmatic processes that are involved
in the interpretation of the linguistic forms as character introductions
and establishments. Examples are drawn from a spoken genre,
rakugo, as well as from several written narrative genres. Linguistic
patterns identified in this study show that both in spoken and written
narrative there are several forms that serve the functional goals of
character introduction and establishment. The linguistic patterns are
found in two different discourse types, i.e., narration and direct
discourse of characters. Previous linguistic studies of character
establishment, or participant tracking, paid attention mostly to only one
type of discourse, i.e., narration. The present study documents that
direct discourse also carries a significant functional load in fulfilling the
major functions in narrative, especially in spoken narrative. The wide
range of linguistic patterns thus found are then analyzed according to
two different modes of presentation, which are termed the descriptive
mode 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 terms
and the first part of adjacency pair. Linguistic patterns of character
establishment show that the referential progression pattern discussed
in Hinds & Hinds (1979) is rare both in well-rehearsed spoken
storytelling and in written stories. Characters can be established
through direct discourse without any narration, especially in the genre
of rakugo.

This dissertation examines the concept of introduction further by
analyzing the role of pre-narrative discourse in contexualization of
narrative. Rakugo storytelling performances shed light on the
importance of overall framing of a story in character introduction. The
prelude to rakugo storytelling performance, i.e., makura, functions to
make a transition into a displaced spatio-temporal deictic center of a
story. Makura is compared to prefacing in casual conversational
narrative in Japanese, and also it is cross-linguistically compared to
pre-narrative framing in storytelling practices in other cultures.