Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 27, 2015

Moving on and off the timeline in narratives of personal experience written in three languages: A form-function developmental study

  • Judy R. Kupersmitt EMAIL logo
From the journal Linguistics

Abstract

This paper explores the construal of temporality in personal narratives written in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, three languages that differ in their morphological marking of tense-aspect. Participants were native speakers of each language in four different age groups from middle childhood across adolescence into adulthood, so taking into account developmental facets of narrative temporality in each language. Focus is on distribution of situations on and off the timeline of the story from the point of view of the linguistic configurations employed by narrators to express the temporal domains of tense and aspect in the three languages at both the intra-clausal and inter-clausal levels. Hebrew was found to differ from Spanish and English, both of which have more enriched system of grammaticized aspect, in the distribution of situations on and off the timeline both developmentally across age groups and in the linguistic means conflated in expression of temporality. The more impoverished system of grammatical aspect in Hebrew led narrators writing in Hebrew to prefer a more linear temporal organization than their counterparts in Spanish and English. The study distinguishes between shared versus language-particular patterns of narrative-embedded temporality from the point of view of linguistic forms and their temporal functions in the context of extended discourse. Results of the study shed light on the interrelations between local linguistic means and the discourse-embedded expression of temporality in narrative development.

Acknowlegments

I am deeply indebted to Ruth A. Berman for access to the data in the three languages analyzed here – English, Spanish, and Hebrew – and for steering me into the topic of text-embedded temporality. I owe to her for her knowledge, her invaluable insights and for her patience when revising previous versions of this article.

References

Aisenman, Ravit & Nurit Assayag. 1999. Fact and fiction in evaluating narrative evaluation. In Ravit Aisenman (ed.), Developing literacy across genres, modalities, and languages, vol. 1, 38–57. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Aksu-Koç, Ayhan A. & Christiane von Stutterheim. 1994. Temporal relations in narrative: Simultaneity. In Ruth A. Berman & Dan I. Slobin (eds.), Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study, 393–455. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Bamberg, Michael & Virginia Marchman. 1994. Foreshadowing and wrapping up in narrative. In Ruth A. Berman & Dan I. Slobin (eds.), Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study, 555–592. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 1978. Modern Hebrew structure. Tel Aviv: Universities publishing.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 1995. Narrative competence and storytelling performance: How children tell stories in different contexts. Journal of Narrative and Life History 5. 285–313.10.1075/jnlh.5.4.01narSearch in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 1997. Narrative theory and narrative development: The Labovian impact. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7. 235–244.10.1075/jnlh.7.29narSearch in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 1998. Typological perspectives on connectivity. In Norbert Dittmar & Zvi Penner (eds.), Issues in the theory of language acquisition, 203–224. Bern: Peter Lang.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 2001. Setting the narrative scene: How children begin to tell a story. In Ayhan A. Aksu-Koç, Carolyn E. Johnson & Keith E. Nelson (eds.), Children’s language, vol. 10, 1–31. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 2004. Between emergence and mastery: The long developmental route of language acquisition. In Ruth A. Berman (ed.), Language development across childhood and adolescence: Trends in language acquisition research, vol. 3, 9–34. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/tilar.3.05berSearch in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. 2008. The psycholinguistics of developing text construction. Journal of Child Language 35. 735–771.10.1017/S0305000908008787Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Irit Katzenberger. 2004. Form and function in introducing narrative and expository texts: A developmental perspective. Discourse Processes 38. 57–94.10.1207/s15326950dp3801_3Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Yonni Neeman. 1994. Development of linguistic forms: Hebrew. In Ruth A. Berman & Dan I. Slobin (eds.), Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study, 285–328. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Bracha Nir-Sagiv. 2004. Linguistic indicators of inter-genre differentiation in later language development. Journal of Child Language 31. 339–380.10.1017/S0305000904006038Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Bracha Nir-Sagiv. 2009. Clause packaging in narratives: A crosslinguistic developmental study. In Jiansheng Guo, Elena Lieven, Nancy Budwig, Susan Ervin-Tripp, Kaiko Nakamura & Şeyda Özҫalişkan (eds.), Crosslinguistic approaches to the psychology of language: Research in the tradition of Dan Isaac Slobin, 149–162. New York & London: Psychology Press.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Dan I. Slobin. 1994. Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Berman, Ruth A. & Ludo Verhoeven. 2002. Crosslinguistic perspectives on the development of text-production abilities. Written Language and Literacy 5(1). 1–43.10.1075/wll.5.1.02berSearch in Google Scholar

Bocaz, Aura. 1987. La expresión de la simultaneidad en la producción de discurso narrativo infantil. Lenguas Modernas 14. 69–86.Search in Google Scholar

Bosque, Ignacio & Violeta Demonte. 1999. Gramática descriptiva de la Lengua Española, vol. 2. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, S.A.Search in Google Scholar

Bybee, Joan L. 2002. Main clauses are innovative, subordinate clauses are conservative: Consequences for the nature of constructions. In Joan L. Bybee & Michael Noonan (eds.), Complex sentences in grammar and discourse: Essays in honor of Sandra A. Thompson, 1–17. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/z.110Search in Google Scholar

Bybee, Joan L. & Dan I. Slobin. 1982. Rules and schemas in the development and use of the English past tense. Language 58. 265–289.10.1353/lan.1982.0021Search in Google Scholar

Caenepeel, Mimo & Mark Moens. 1994. Temporal structure and discourse structure. In Co Vet & Carl Vetters (eds.), Tense and aspect in discourse, 5–20. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Caenepeel, Mimo & Görel Sandström. 1992. A discourse-level approach to the past perfect in narrative. In Michel Aurnague (ed.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on the Semantics of Time, Space, Movement and Spatio-Temporal Reasoning. Toulouse: Université Paul Sabatier.Search in Google Scholar

Chafe, Wallace. 1980. The pear stories: Cognitive, cultural and linguistic aspects of narrative production. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Search in Google Scholar

Chafe, Wallace. 1984. How people use adverbial clauses. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.10.3765/bls.v10i0.1936Search in Google Scholar

Chen, Liang & Jiansheng Guo. 2009. Motion events in Chinese novels: Evidence for an equipollently-framed language. Journal of Pragmatics 41. 1749–1766.10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.015Search in Google Scholar

Chvany, Catherine V. 1985. Backgrounded perfectives and plot line imperfectives: Toward a theory of grounding in text. In Michael S. Flier & Alan Timberlake (eds.), The scope of Slavic aspect, 247–273. Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers.Search in Google Scholar

Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect: An introduction to the study of verbal aspect and related problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Comrie, Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781139165815Search in Google Scholar

Comrie, Bernard. 1986. Tense and time reference: From meaning to interpretation in the chronological structure of a text. Journal of Literary Semantics 15. 12–22.10.1515/jlse.1986.15.1.12Search in Google Scholar

Dahl, Östen. 1985. Tense and aspect systems. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Dasinger, Lisa & Cecile Toupin. 1994. The development of relative clause functions in narrative. In Ruth A. Berman & Dan I. Slobin (eds.), Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study, 457–514. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

DeClerck, Renaat. 1994. On so-called “tense simplification” in English. In Co Vet & Carl Vetters (eds.), Tense and aspect in discourse, 77–98. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Dowty, David R. 1979. Word meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel.10.1007/978-94-009-9473-7Search in Google Scholar

Dowty, David R. 1982. Tense, time adverbials and compositional semantic theory. Linguistics and Philosophy 5. 23–55.10.1007/BF00390692Search in Google Scholar

Dry, Helen A. 1981. Sentence aspect and the movement of narrative time. Text 1. 233–240.10.1515/text.1.1981.1.3.233Search in Google Scholar

Dry, Helen A. 1983. The movement of narrative time. Journal of Literary Semantics 12.19–53.10.1515/jlse.1983.12.2.19Search in Google Scholar

Fleischman, Suzanne. 1990. Tense and narrativity: From medieval performance to modern fiction. Austin: University of Texas press.10.7560/780903Search in Google Scholar

Fludernik, Monika. 2003. Chronology, time, tense, and experientiality in narrative. Language and Literature 12(2). 117–134.10.1177/0963947003012002295Search in Google Scholar

Goldfajn, Tal. 1998. Word order and time in Biblical Hebrew narrative. Clarendon Press: Oxford.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198269533.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Gordon, Amon. 1982. The development of the participle in Biblical, Mishnaic, and Modern Hebrew. Afroasiatic Linguistics 8(3). 121–179.Search in Google Scholar

Green, John N. 1982. The status of Romance auxiliaries of voice. In Nigel Vincent & Martin Harris (eds.), Studies in the romance verb, 97–138. London: Croom Helm.Search in Google Scholar

Hatav, Galia. 1997. The semantics of aspect and modality: Evidence from English and Biblical Hebrew. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.10.1075/slcs.34Search in Google Scholar

Hickmann, Maya. 1995. Discourse organization and the development of reference to person, space, and time. In Paul Fletcher & Brian MacWhinney (eds.), The handbook of child language, 194–218. Oxford: Blackwell.10.1111/b.9780631203124.1996.00008.xSearch in Google Scholar

Hickmann, Maya. 2003. Children’s discourse: Person, space and time across languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511486784Search in Google Scholar

Hopper, Paul J. 1979. Aspect and foregrounding in discourse. In Talmy Givon (ed.), Syntax and semantics: Discourse and syntax, 213–242. New York: Academic Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hopper, Paul J. 1982. Tense-aspect: Between semantics and pragmatics. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/tsl.1Search in Google Scholar

Hopper, Paul J. & Sandra A. Thompson. 1980. Transitivity in syntax and discourse. Language 56(2). 251–299.10.1353/lan.1980.0017Search in Google Scholar

Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Iraide. 2004. Linguistic typologies in our language use: The case of Basque motion events in adult oral narratives. Cognitive Linguistics 15(3). 317–349.10.1515/cogl.2004.012Search in Google Scholar

Jisa, Harriet, Judy Reilly, Ludo Verhoeven, Elisheva Baruch & Elisa Rosado. 2002. Passive voice constructions in written texts: A cross-linguistic developmental study. Written Language and Literacy 5(2). 163–182.10.1075/wll.5.2.03jisSearch in Google Scholar

Kiefer, Ferenc. 1995. Lexical information and the temporal interpretation of discourse. In Masayoshi Shibatani & Sandra A. Thompson (eds.), Essays in semantics and pragmatics in honor of Charles J. Fillmore, 111–132. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/pbns.32.07kieSearch in Google Scholar

Labov, William. 1972. Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Search in Google Scholar

Labov, William. 1997. Some further steps in narrative analysis. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7. 395–415.10.1075/jnlh.7.49somSearch in Google Scholar

Labov, William & Joshua Waletzky. 1967. Narrative analysis: Oral versions of personal experience. In June Helm (ed.), Essays on the verbal and visual arts, 12–44. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lascarides, Alex & Nicholas Asher. 1993. Temporal interpretation, discourse relations and commonsense entailment. Linguistics and Philosophy 15(5). 437–496.10.1007/BF00986208Search in Google Scholar

MacWhinney, Brian. 2000. The CHILDES project: Tools for analyzing talk. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Matthiessen, Christian & Sandra A. Thompson. 1988. The structure of discourse and ‘subordination’. In John Haiman & Sandra A. Thompson (eds.), Clause combining in grammar and discourse, 275–329. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/tsl.18.12matSearch in Google Scholar

McCabe, Allyssa & Lynn Bliss. 2003. Patterns of narrative discourse. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Search in Google Scholar

Muñoz, Carmen. 2012. A cross-linguistic study of narratives with special attention to the progressive: A contrast between English, Spanish and Catalan. In Marzena Watorek, Sandra Benazzo & Maya Hickmann (eds.), Comparative perspectives on language acquisition: A tribute to Clive Perdue, 502–519. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.10.21832/9781847696045-027Search in Google Scholar

Nippold, Marylin A. 1998. Later language development: The school-age and adolescent years. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Search in Google Scholar

Nir, Bracha & Ruth A. Berman. 2010. Complex syntax as a window on contrastive rhetoric. Journal of Pragmatics 42.744–765.10.1016/j.pragma.2009.07.006Search in Google Scholar

Olbertz, Hella. 1998. Verbal periphrases in a functional grammar of Spanish. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyer.10.1515/9783110820881Search in Google Scholar

Peterson, Carole & Allyssa McCabe. 1983. Developmental psycholinguistics: Three ways of looking at a child’s narrative. New York: Plenum Press.10.1007/978-1-4757-0608-6Search in Google Scholar

Ragnarsdóttir, Hrafnhildur, Melina Aparici, Dalia Cahana-Amitay, Janet Van Hell & Anne Viguié. 2002. Verbal structure and content. Written Language and Literacy 5(1). 95–126.10.1075/wll.5.1.05ragSearch in Google Scholar

Ravid, Dorit & Avraham Avidor. 1998. Acquisition of derived nominals in Hebrew: Developmental and linguistic principles. Journal of Child Language 25. 229–266.10.1017/S0305000998003419Search in Google Scholar

Reilly, Judy, Elisheva Baruch, Harriet Jisa & Ruth A. Berman. 2002. Propositional attitudes. Written Language and Literacy 5(2).183–218.10.1075/wll.5.2.04reiSearch in Google Scholar

Reinhart, Tanya. 1984. Principles of gestalt perception in the temporal organization of narrative texts. Linguistics 22. 779–809.10.1515/ling.1984.22.6.779Search in Google Scholar

Sandbank, Ana. 2004. Writing narrative texts: A developmental and crosslinguistic study. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Schiffrin, Deborah. 1981. Tense variation in narratives. Language 57. 45–62.10.1353/lan.1981.0011Search in Google Scholar

Schmiedtová, Barbara. 2004. At the same time…The expression of simultaneity in learner varieties. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110197488Search in Google Scholar

Silva-Corvalán, Carmen. 1991. Invariant meanings and context-bound functions of tense in Spanish. In Jadranka Gvozdanovic & Theodorus A. J. M. Janssen (eds.), The function of tense in texts, 255–270. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Search in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan I. 1987. Thinking for speaking. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society 13. 435–444.10.3765/bls.v13i0.1826Search in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan I. 1991. Learning to think for speaking: Native language, cognition, and rhetorical style. Pragmatics 1. 7–26.10.1075/prag.1.1.01sloSearch in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan, I. 1996. From “thought and language” to “thinking for speaking”. In John Gumperz & Stephen Levinson (eds.), Rethinking linguistic relativity (Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Language 17), 70–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan I. 1997. The universal, the typological and particular in acquisition. In Dan I. Slobin (ed.), The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition, vol. 5: Expanding the contexts, 1–39. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan I. 2003. Language and thought online: Cognitive consequences of linguistic relativity. In Dedre Gentner & Susan Goldin-Meadow (eds.), Language in mind: Advances in the investigation of language and thought, 157–191. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Slobin, Dan I. 2004. The many ways to search for a frog. In Sven Strömqvist & Ludo Verhoeven (eds.), Relating events in narrative: Typological and contextual perspectives, 219–258. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Carlota S. 1991. The parameter of aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer.10.1007/978-94-015-7911-7Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Carlota S. 2004. The domain of tense. In Jacqueline Gueron & Jacqueline Lecarme (eds.), The syntax of time, 597–619. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Carlota S. 2007. Tense and temporal interpretation. Lingua 117(2). 419–436.10.1016/j.lingua.2004.10.005Search in Google Scholar

Thompson, Sandra, A. 1987. “Subordination” and narrative event structure. In Russell S. Tomlin (ed.), Coherence and grounding in discourse, 435–454. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/tsl.11.19thoSearch in Google Scholar

Tolchinsky, Liliana & Elisa Rosado. 2005. The effect of literacy, text type, and modality on the use of grammatical means for agency alternation in Spanish. Journal of Pragmatics 37(2). 209–237.10.1016/S0378-2166(04)00195-XSearch in Google Scholar

Tomlin, Russell S. 1985. Foreground-background information and the syntax of subordination. Text 5. 85–122.10.1515/text.1.1985.5.1-2.85Search in Google Scholar

van Dijk, Teun A. 1975. Pragmatics of language and literature. Amsterdam: North Holland.Search in Google Scholar

Vendler, Zeno. 1967. Linguistics in philosophy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.10.7591/9781501743726Search in Google Scholar

von Stutterheim, Christiane & Monique Lambert. 2005. Cross-linguistic analysis of temporal perspectives in text production. In Henriette Hendriks (ed.), The structure of learner varieties, 203–230. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110909593.203Search in Google Scholar

von Stutterheim, Christiane & Ralf Nüse. 2003. Processes of conceptualization in language production: language-specific perspectives and event construal. Linguistics 41(5). 851–881.10.1515/ling.2003.028Search in Google Scholar

Wiemer, Björn. 1997. Narrative units and the temporal organization of ordinary discourse. Journal of Narrative and Life History 7. 245–250.10.1075/jnlh.7.30narSearch in Google Scholar

Winskel, Heather. 2007. The expression of temporal relations in Thai children’s narratives. First Language 27(2).133–158.10.1177/0142723706074794Search in Google Scholar

Ziv, Yael. 2001. Discourse markers in colloquial Hebrew: The case of pashut. Hebrew Linguistics 48. 17–29.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2015-10-27
Published in Print: 2015-11-1

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton

Downloaded on 5.2.2023 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/ling-2015-0033/html
Scroll Up Arrow