Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session




From the introduction: "The limitations of a purely linguistic description of an oral performance [...] do not deny the fact that careful linguistic studies can perform a valuable service in the exposition of both the form and meaning of the total communicative complex. It is the purpose of this paper, then, to substantiate that claim by applying a number of the insights and techniques of discourse analysis procedures [...] to a selected group of Chewa narratives. Each of these stories features an organizational model which is quite common among the Bantu-speaking peoples of Central and South Africa. Essentially, this model consists of the ordered repetition or 'recycling' of a basic core of significant actions, each set being grouped around a nuclear song and allowing for the inclusion of a limited amount of new, plot-related information. The successive repetitions of these event-sets, or narrative cycles, functions as an indispensable element in the artistic unfolding of a story's plot, and correspondingly, in the dramatic effect that this has on the audience."

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