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Extraordinary from the Ordinary

Personal Experience Narratives in American Sign Language

Kristin Jean Mulrooney

Publication Year: 2009

Personal narratives are one way people code their experiences and convey them to others. Given that speakers can simultaneously express information and define a social situation, analyzing how and why people structure the telling of personal narratives can provide insight into the social dimensions of language use. In Extraordinary from the Ordinary: Personal Experience Narratives in American Sign Language, Kristin Jean Mulrooney shows that accounts by Deaf persons expressed in ASL possess the same characteristics and perform the same function as oral personal narratives. Mulrooney analyzes 12 personal narratives by ASL signers to determine how they “tell” their stories. She examines the ASL form of textual narration to see how signers use lexical signs to grammatically encode information, and how they also convey perceived narration. In perceived narration, the presenter depicts a past occurrence in the immediate environment that allows the audience to partially witness and interpret the event. Mulrooney determined that ASL narratives reveal a patterned structure consisting of an introduction, a main events section for identifying and describing past occurrences, and a conclusion. They also can include background information, an explication section in which the presenter expands or clarifies an event, and a section that allows the presenter to explain his or her feelings about what happened. Liberally illustrated with photographs from videotaped narratives, Extraordinary from the Ordinary offers an engrossing, expansive view of personal narratives embodying the unique linguistic elements of ASL.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Contents

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pp. v-

Editorial Advisory Board

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

I cannot compose a sentence that will adequately express the gratitude I feel toward the individuals who contributed to the completion of this book. I will make an attempt and hope you can feel my appreciation.Thank you to the six narrators that produced these delightful tales that I had the privilege of analyzing. Your stories provided me the opportunity...

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Chapter 1. Narrative Analysis

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pp. 1-21

Personal narratives are one way people code their experiences and convey these experiences to others. Given that narratives simultaneously express information and define a social situation, analyzing how and why people structure the telling of personal narratives provides insight into the social dimensions of language...

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Chapter 2. Theoretical Background

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pp. 22-39

Fauconnier (1985, 1997) developed his theory of “mental spaces” to account for how we use language to construct and process meanings that go beyond what is encoded by the grammatical system. Fauconnier proposes that when we engage in any kind of discourse, we create and make use of mental spaces. These mental spaces are “constructs distinct from linguistic...

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Chapter 3. Analyzing Narratives

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pp. 40-52

Narratives lend themselves to analysis because they provide a “bound” unit of discourse to study. They have an identified beginning and end that mark them as separate from the surrounding discourse (Jefferson 1979; Polanyi 1985). If a narrative is told in conversation, the participants understand that the narrator will have an extended turn...

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Chapter 4. A Prototypical Narrative

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pp. 53-69

Each of the narratives I examined can each be divided into six sections: introduction, background, main event, explication, reflection, and conclusion. The main events section is comprised of a series of events plus elaborations. The elaborations provide additional detail to the story. The remainder of this chapter uses the narrative “Moment of Silence” to...

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Chapter 5. The Structure of Introduction and Background Sections in ASL Narratives

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pp. 70-94

All of the narratives in this study contain at least an introduction, a main event, and a conclusion. Some also contain background information, explanation, or elaboration of the main event, or reflections on the main event. Therefore, I have divided the narratives into two parts, which I have labeled introduction and background. These two sections are grouped...

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Chapter 6. The Structure of Main-Event Sections in ASL Narratives

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pp. 95-128

Telling a narrative is a means of recapitulating personal experiences to others. As I previously argued, these narratives not only grammatically encode aspects of what took place (T narration), but, at times, they also partially recreate the past experience (P narration). T narration provides grammatically encoded information about what happened. However, P...

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Chapter 7. The Structure of Explication, Reflection, and Conclusion Sections in ASL Narratives

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pp. 129-144

Narratives do not end with the main events section. Rather, they continue with up to three more sections, explication, reflection and conclusion. The explication section elaborates on one aspect of the main-events section. In the reflection section the narrator comments on how he or she feels about what happened in the main events section. The conclusion...

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Chapter 8. Conclusion

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pp. 145-159

The goal of this research was to describe how ASL users package experiences and convey them to others in the form of personal narrative. Signers and speakers select among different possible grammatical structures to convey their experiences. These structures can simultaneously express “what happened” along with the narrator’s perspective on this...

References

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pp. 161-167

Appendix

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pp. 169-170

Index

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pp. 171-174


E-ISBN-13: 9781563684388
E-ISBN-10: 1563684381
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684166
Print-ISBN-10: 1563684160

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 19 tables, 117 figures including706 photographs
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communties Series
Series Editor Byline: Ceil Lucas

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