Construing Confrontation

Construing confrontation: Grammar in the construction of a key historical narrative in Umpithamu


JEAN-CHRISTOPHE  VERSTRAETE  a1 and BARBARA  DE COCK  a2
a1 Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders and, Department of Linguistics, University of Leuven, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, 3000 Leuven, Belgium, jean-christophe.verstraete@arts.kuleuven.be
a2 Department of Linguistics, University of Leuven, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, 3000 Leuven, Belgium, barbara.decock@arts.kuleuven.be

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verstraete j   PubMedGoogle Scholar

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Abstract

This study provides a linguistic perspective on the structure and the interpretation of a key historical narrative in Umpithamu (a Pama-Nyungan language of Cape York Peninsula, Australia), against the background of a larger corpus of narrative texts in Umpithamu. The analysis focuses on the role of participant tracking devices in the macro-structure of the narrative, and the role of case marking in the build-up of narrative motifs. It is argued not only that marked types of participant tracking serve to mark the boundaries of episodes, as often noted in the literature, but also that some types have additional functions within episodes, which leads to a proposal for refinement of Fox’s (1987) Principle of Morphosyntactic Markedness. On a micro-structural level, it is shown how a rare system of case marking is used by the narrator to construe white–Aboriginal interactions as events in which the Aboriginal participants experience an extreme lack of control. a

(Received October 10 2006)
(Revised April 20 2007)
(Accepted March 12 2007)
Key Words: episode structure; participant tracking; information structure; case marking; Australian Aboriginal narrative; Umpithamu.

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