Beyond Chronicity: Evaluation and Temporality in Spanish-Speaking Children’s Personal Narratives
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CitationUccelli, P. (2008). Beyond chronicity: Evaluation and temporality in Spanish-speaking children¹s personal narratives. In A. McCabe, A. Bailey, G. Melzi (Eds.), Spanish language narration and literacy development (pp. 175-212). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
AbstractThis chapter focuses on Spanish-speaking children’s evaluation and temporality
in the construction of personal narratives. The study analyzes 32 personal narratives
produced by 8 Andean Spanish-speaking children from the Andean city
of Cusco in Peru All children were monolingual speakers of the Andean Spanish
variety and came from lower-middle-class families. Half the children were
preschoolers (4;9 to 5;5 years) and the other half were first-graders (6;6 to 7;8
years). Both age groups were balanced in terms of gender. Children were interviewed
and tape-recorded by the author using the ConversationalMap of Narratives
of Real Experiences (McCabe & Rollins, 1994) as the elicitation procedure.
Narratives were transcribed using CHAT conventions (MacWhinney, 2000) and
were subsequently coded for narrative components (Peterson &McCabe, 1983)
and temporal organization (Genette, 1980). Results indicated that contrary to
the sequentiality and single-story structure reported as characteristic of U.S.
European American English-speaking children, these Andean Spanish-speaking
children’s narratives present a distinctive feature labeled herein as structural evaluation.
Structural evaluation takes two forms, either (1) a functional deviation
from the timeline of real events; or (2) a chain of independent stories connected
within the boundaries of a single narrative. These young narrators used these
strategies to evaluate a specific point in the narrative, consequently affecting both
the temporal organization of events and the episodic complexity of the narratives.
Deviations from the timeline are usually identified as indicators of language
pathology or immaturity for U.S. European American English-speaking
children. In these Andean children’s narratives, conversely, departures from the
timeline served a rhetorical function that reflected a sophisticated discourse
skill. Results highlight the need of data-driven interpretative approaches of Spanish-speakers’ narratives in a field increasingly focused on cultural/linguistic
diversity but still dominated by Anglo-centric views of development.
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