Vol. 9 No. 5 (2020): Narrative Structures in Cross-Linguistic Perspective: English, Hobongan, and Daqan

Marla Perkins, Ph.D. (Independent Scholar)

Four main informational elements have been suggested and studied as central aspects of narrative discourse: causality, character, location, time. The research that scholars have previously undertaken on these aspects has been primarily on Indo-European languages, and more specifically on the European side of that language family. The linguistic limitations have indicated that character is the aspect of narrative that readers/listeners attend to most closely. However, in examining narrative discourses from non-Indo-European languages, challenges to the presumed primacy of character emerge. In a partial report on field work conducted in Borneo in 2012-2015, I compare and contrast patterns in the rankings of the four main aspects of narrative in three languages, English, Hobongan and Daqan. I also note the strategies by which the languages make their respective rankings clear, including focus particles (Hobongan), specificity of description (each), and amount of information provided about the aspects (each). I suggest that analyses of the patterns and rankings of information in narrative be included in typological categorizations and linguistic descriptions of languages.

Published: 2020-09-25