What is it like to "hear" a hand?: Deaf Narratives from the New Zealand Deaf Community
There now exists a body of literature describing the phonology, morphology and syntax of NZSL, but to date there has been no published work on NZSL narrative discourse structure. This study is the first linguistic exploration of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) beyond the level of the sentence. The thesis begins by providing background into the NZSL speech community, and suggests historical and contextual features of the New Zealand Deaf community that influence the structure of the narratives found within it. The thesis reviews and assesses the applicability of research into discourse structures in American Sign Language (ASL) with a view to using this established body of research to guide the development of research strategies for the study of NZSL narratives. It then investigates the narrative structure of two NZSL narratives. The structural analysis is based on two different methodological approaches. The first approach is Labov’s narrative taxonomy based on oral narratives (Labov & Waletzky, 1967). The second approach amalgamates Gee’s units of narrative production (1986) with Gee’s analysis of narrative story structure and pausing analysis of an ASL narrative (1983). The study will then test the congruence of the two approaches when applied to the same data. The two narratives highlight the diversity in NZSL narrative production found within the South Island Deaf community. The main finding of this preliminary examination of NZSL narrative structure is that they illustrate basic compliance with the taxonomies proposed by Labov and Gee. Similarity between the narrative structure and features of ASL stories and an NZSL narrative also emerged. However, the linguistic resources of a visual non-verbal narrative, particularly the aspects of simultaneity and whole body involvement, require a modified approach to explore and subsequently explain NZSL narrative structure and the dynamics of narrative presentation.
Advisor: Feryok, Anne
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: English
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand Sign Language; Storytelling
Research Type: Thesis