Jessica Sohre

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Linda Humnick


The primary focus of this paper is to examine how personal experience narratives in Romanian Sign Language (LSR) compare to previous research in structural narratology in spoken languages and in American Sign Language (ASL). One main area of comparison is the differences and similarities in the type of information found in structural narrative categories as described by Labov and Waletsky (1967), Labov (1972), Brewer (1984), Dooley and Levinsohn (2001) and Mulrooney (2009). The second main area of comparison is the grammatical devices that correlate to certain categories, in particular, using Liddell's (2003) concepts of surrogate, depicting verb and token blends.

The methodology of this study uses a combination of pause data (Gee & Kegl 1983, Wilson 1996, Mulrooney 2009) and information type within clauses to divide the text up into smaller sections and identify narrative categories. The analysis further identifies the locations of surrogate, depicting verb and token blends in relation to those narrative categories.

The findings of this analysis show that LSR narratives reflect the Labovian structural narrative categories of abstract, orientation, complicating action, evaluation, resolution, and coda. The only significant exceptions are the lack of an evaluation category and the climax in the resolution instead of the complicating action category. In terms of grammatical devices, LSR narratives reflect ASL narratives in that most blends occur in the complicating action section. In general, LSR narratives do not include blends in the abstract or the coda, only non-action blends in the orientation, action blends in the event and evaluation lines in the complicating action, and mainly surrogate blends in the event lines in the resolution.

The data supporting this thesis is publicly available at:

The data contains four short videos (3-6 minutes each) by native Romanian Sign Language signers. Each video is accompanied by an ELAN annotation file containing glosses, a literal translation, and a free translation in English. A text file provides further details concerning each video.