Thursday, July 16, 2009

Linguistics Recap 7/15

Welcome to the 3rd Day of Class.

David encouraged at least one of us to approach Kim Weitkamp, the teller for next week at the International Storytelling Center, and ask for permission to record. Then this solo formal performance could be transcribed for one of our papers.

David clarified that this assignment:

  • Does not have have to be transcribed in its entirety as long as we have key moments upon which to base our analysis
  • Discover the phonetic and socio-phonetics elements within the piece
  • Rely on your notes of what is happening visually in the performance, which means audio recordings could be used if you attended the event
  • Direct us to the Friday, February 20, 2009 post on the class blog for areas to explore with our paper such as: Setting and Scene; Participants; Ends; Act Sequence; Key; Instrumentalities; Norms; Genre
  • See also Storytelling Analysis by James Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal as well as "Immunological Effects of Thought Suppression" by Keith J. Petrie and Roger J. Booth
  • Tune our ears and eyes to language sensitivity
  • Interest in our original thinking so our ideas do not have to reference the textbook
We discussed involvement strategies of one of Tejumola Ologboni's sessions from the Teller-in-Residence series. In other words, how did Teju "engage the listener in the experience"?

Some of these involvement strategies used by Teju:
  • Talked with people before the performance started
  • Asked two kids for their favorite foods and connected with with his sharing of culture
  • Discovered the names of the two kids: Parker and Jacob
  • Shared statements that invited people to include themselves with his experiences like "When anybody goes anywhere, they take their culture there."
  • Presented his bit about African culture at the beginning so the listeners had a foundation as he shared his experiences and stories
  • Used "we" and "us" several times throughout the performance
  • Set-up for comedy with potential conflict of two different ideologies such as a Blues musician married to a Baptist preacher's daughter
  • Arranged information so it had more of an impact on us as listeners with a "Huh?--Ah!" surprise, which could be sometimes a "silence principal"
  • Negotiated the relationship with the audience by being cryptic or indirect at points so that the listeners have to fill in the blanks of the meaning behind the words

What is the difference between "Phone" and "Phoneme"?--

  • A "phone" is a speech sound perceived as a unique sound
  • A "phoneme" is abstract and focuses on the meaning behind the unit of sound in comparison with other phonemes
In the English language, what is with the sound from "p"?--
  • A linguist notices more of a difference of the sound from "p" due to if it is aspirated because some languages place a different meaning--or phoneme--than what we normally do in the English language. Whether a "p" is aspirated or not does not change what the word may mean to us. Thus, we do not notice how much emphasis someone places on "p" to derive meaning. For us, "p" would sound the same.
  • When there are different ways to say a phone (sound) without changing the meaning, then we have an allophone.

You mean we can go back to saying "Word Families" that we learned in 2nd grade?--

  • Linguistics prefer to use the terms "pairs" and "sets", but what we learned in 2nd grade can indeed help us again. They are the same things. For example, the "at" family can add "m" at the beginning. It does not stop here because "b", "f", "h", "c", "s", "n", "p", "r", "t", "th", and "v" could also be added in front of the "at" family.

Wait. . .what was all that again?--You know, with phones, phonemes, and morphemes, etc.?--

  • Sounds = phones
  • Sounds that affect meaning = phoneme
  • Sounds that contain meaning = morpheme
  • Can you see how each part builds onto the next part?
  • Beyond morphemes, you then build to syntax and then to semantics
  • Think of these steps and groups as the ecology of linguistics and how things build to make our ecosystems
Time to Morph. . .er. . .Morpheme:
  • Words could be one morphemes like "cat"
  • Words could have two morphemes like "cats" with "cat" as one morph and "s" as another morph
  • Words could have a ton of morphemes, but those take longer to spell
  • Prefixes and Suffixes could be morphemes but are not limited to just being prefixes and suffixes
  • Morphemes are the smallest units to contain meaning
Are you telling me that "s" could have meaning? Just little old "s"?--
  • Yes, because "s", as in the case of "cats", denotes "more than one" to make it plural
  • Now that is a small unit, right?

What about the sneaky "k"?--

  • Oh, that "k" does like to stir trouble. Of course, "k" prefers that you don't even know it is there because "knew" is pronounced the same as "new". But do not let it fool you. The silent "k" can change meaning despite having the same phone (sound).

Have you taken away a name before. . .just out of spite. . .or other reasons?--

  • Taking away a name could allow us to reengage at what it is
  • Sometimes we dismiss things too quickly when there is a name and lose our wonder and curiosity. For example, does "cat" give a cat justice to what it is?
  • Being nameless gives the opportunity to grapple with it
  • Reflect on the story "She Unnames Them" by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sometimes we re-name things--
  • This recasts or re-frames our mind
  • Mass murderer could also be "ethnic cleansing"
  • Re-naming depends on our own preferences and views
  • Sickness may become more or less powerful upon diagnosis depending on how we treat that name of "cancer" or "swine flu"
  • Victim vs. Survivor
  • Teju's story where Thief becomes Healer
  • Storyteller could have the chance to rename or re-frame a character in a story with "Narrative Re-framing" so we do not always have the clear cut good guy/bad guy but also the bad guy who may yet be good
  • Teju's experience with "cruel" teacher could also be the same teacher who "got him on the road" of being a storyteller so there could be negative and positive qualities

Then there is the power of having no name--

  • Odysseus proves being named "No Man" avoided peril by the Cyclops

Did someone say "Verbal pyrotechnics"?--
  • One word could be replaced by one or many words
  • We can still receive understanding when we switch out words
  • There must be some maintaining of words for it to have meaning
  • This is like "the original mad lib" or a linguistic novelty
  • Enjoy the English story "Master Who Gave Strange Names to Things in His House"

Prepare to play the game "Fiction-nary"--

  • Someone tosses out a made-up word
  • Another person in the group shares the story of what this word means with authority
  • More people take turns sharing the "truth"
  • The person who creates the word is the final one to share their knowledge of it
Some of our words in class--
  • Foginhimer
  • Bitubeechymama
  • Clurt
  • Jamboogies

We discussed that sometimes storytellers--

  • Start with casual orality and then move to more composed literary pieces
  • Think on the spot so that the story is discovered in the process of telling it, which could be known as "discovery composition" or "improv composition"
  • Still know the story even if it is in the stage of development

But what are you willing to reveal or disclose?--

  • Studies have shown that talk therapy helps to disclose and share stories and affects the body in both mental and physical capacities
  • If you withhold information or stories (inhibition), then someone could truly become ill
  • The listener could now suffer after hearing a traumatic event as now that person received the experience vicariously
  • The sharing does not always have to be out loud as journaling or writing on paper and then tossing the writings could be enough
  • Event itself does not traumatize us but it is the constant thinking about it that could cause strife
  • We need to make sense of events and experiences in our lives. If we do not make sense of them, then we fixate or mull over them.
  • When we finally develop a narrative, then we can assimilate the experience
  • Part of the function of narrative is to find meaning
  • Memories could be integrated
  • Experience is not linear and is around us all the time
  • We attempt to create a holistic moment of several sensations to reduce it to a narrative line

Culture can get traumatized--
  • Holocaust
  • Who killed JFK?
  • Michael Jackson just died
  • 9/11 and searching for the black box from the plane to discover the story
  • Political response to tragedy is "a full investigation will be made" so there will be a story to explain everything or enough that the culture can be at peace

Then, we divided into three small groups for recorded conversational moments with the prompt "a favorite place outdoors".

We discussed--

  • Conversation has its own rules
  • It seemed right for Debbie to talk about a tree though originally she was going to talk about the frozen pond due to everyone else talking about trees
  • We need the sense of being heard, being recognized, and finding out what we know about ourselves
  • We recover parts of ourselves that we have not engaged for a while
  • We receive glow of recognition or the glow of recovery
  • Virtual experiences come to us as we listen to others
  • There is a sense of equilibrium on the amount of time each person receives in the conversations
  • A give-and-take feel is present
  • We often give acknowledgment and affirmation as part of the "economy stroke"

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