In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK NOTICES 735 This book has two themes; the 'linguistic and social constraints on telling stories in American conversational interaction, and the cultural presuppositions which, taken together, constitute what can be thought of as the "American world view".' The themes Eire connected by the data—stories taken from recorded conversations of American speakers, which are used in the analysis of story-telling and also provide the beginning point for description ofAmerican culture . Polanyi's assumption is that people talk about things that matter to them, and that from such talk one can deduce the underlying cultural base of a language community. In Ch. 1, P points out that stories are cultural texts, and that an understanding of the underlying cultural assumptions of a language community is necessary foran adequate understanding of texts in that language. In the next two chapters, the structures of the stories are described , interactionally and linguistically. They adhere very consistently, P says, to narrative conventions in English. The linguistic analysis selects from story-world clauses (both event and durative/descriptive clauses) those propositions which are most highly 'evaluated' by the use of linguistic devices such as repetition, adjectival or adverbial modifiers, stress, or iconicity in telling. The propositions are then put together in an 'adequate paraphrase' of the story, which is used as a basis for deriving the cultural constructs in the remainder of the book. In Ch. 4, P presents a thorough cultural analysis of American values; starting from the selected propositions, she adds new propositions by inference, by paraphrasing, and by including what she associates with them that is interesting , obvious, and automatic—drawing on her knowledge as a cultural initiate. P cites popular psychology and sociology texts on how to be successful in our society as indications that her introspection is not at variance with the values of others in the society. Ch. 5 presents a distillation ofCh. 4—a compendium of cultural constructs—in the form of lists ofpropositions about the world and human nature as Americans view them; e.g., the physical world is always changing, people have needs, pain hurts, and courage is good. In Ch. 6, these propositions are put together into a text expressing facts about different classes of people —adults, children, the sick, criminals, 'proper people' etc.—and their needs and wants and duties. P makes no claim to completeness, since the extent ofthe description is limited by the extent ofher observations; rather, she presents a methodology as a basis for cultural analysis. This book is a revision of P's 1978 dissertation . It is, she says, a project she would not undertake now, because it is 'too naive an undertaking and too ambitious a task'. It is a very personal book, since P participates in some of the conversational data and contributes her values to the cultural analysis. While it certainly describes an American story, it might also be called, as in the afterword, 'An American's story'. [Marian Shapley, UCLA.] Historic structures: The Prague School Project, 1928-1946. By Frantisek W. Galan. (Slavic series, 7.) Austin : University of Texas Press, 1985. Pp. xvi, 250. Centuries from now, the Prague Linguistics Circle or School will be remembered not only for its ideas on and contributions to functionalism , structuralism, phonology, morphophonemics , synchrony and diachrony, semiotics, stylistics and poetics, but also for the dozens of articles, anthologies, and book-length studies which have elaborately documented and painstakingly evaluated the Pragueans. Happily, Galan's book breaks new ground: his primary focus is literature, not linguistics. His principal aim is to trace the evolution of Czech structuralists ' theories of literary history; a secondary goal is the delimitation of key points of divergence with Russian formalism. In Ch. 1 , G briefly characterizes the difficulties of elaborating a theory of literary evolution or development. Ch. 2, of greatest interest to linguists, takes as a point of departure certain Russian formalist views (as expressed primarily by R. Jakobson and J. Tynjanov) and their conflict with such Saussurean concepts as the relationships between synchrony and diachrony, or langue and parole. Having established 'how the Prague Circle linguists succeeded for the first time in defining the laws of language evolution ' (17), G devotes the following...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 735-736
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.