Fishers narrative paradigm Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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One could argue, for instance, that the narrative of Translators without Borders ultimately sustains and justifies an ethics of consumerism through the commoditization of human grief. By blurring the boundaries between commercial and humanitarian agendas, the narrative accommodates itself to the established cosmetic use of good causes by big business to improve its image and deflect attention from its less savory practices.

Finally, the Translators Without Borders story feeds into hegemonic cultural narratives of social responsibility that are ultimately designed to make the donors feel good about themselves rather than directly address the needs of the recipients. This is evident in Lori Thicke s article, published in Multilingual Computing and Technology, where she explains the attraction of the humanitarian exercise as follows: Giving away translations for а worthy cause is а win-win scenario. Eurotexte feels good about it. The translators feel good about it, and they see Eurotexte as an agency that really cares which we do.

And last but not least, our customers consider this to be а point of distinction. (2oo3:4) In the final analysis, as Hinchman and Hinchman point out, we extend or withhold allegiance to communities depending on our rational judgments concerning the narratives on which they are based (1997:238) Fishers narrative paradigm, as І have tried to demonstrate with the narrative of Translators Without Borders, offers us а framework not only for making rational judgments but also for assessing narratives in terms of fidelity and, thus, their ethical import.

Gumperz (1982) demonstrated that speakers in а conversation are engaged in an ongoing and immediate process of assessing others intentions and producing responses based on the assessment of those intentions. He calls this situated or context-bound process of interpreting meaning conversational inference and the meanings themselves are flexible and evolve as conversations proceed (Gumperz 1977). To talk back and forth-to speak as well as listen-entails both sending and receiving multiple levels of meaning.

In numerous examples, he illustrates how meanings are conveyed from multiple levels of language consisting of, but not limited to, lexical or phonological choice, syntactic patterns, use of formulaic expressions, code-switching, prosodic cues (intonation and stress), and paralinguistic (e. g. , pitch, register, rhythm, and volume). Meaning is not only determined by features of language, but also, as Gumperz demonstrates, by background expectations, prior knowledge or relationships, roles, cultural knowledge, and other social knowledge.

According to Gumperz, interpreting meaning is а process of contextualization in which а listener associates certain kinds of cues within the language, called contextualization cues, with information content on the one hand and with background expectations, or social knowledge, on the other ( Gumperz 1978; 1982). Contextualization cues refer to any aspect of the surface form of utterances that, when attached to message content, function as а way of signaling how to understand what is said.

These cues signal to listeners when speakers have made their points, which information is foreground and which is background, what the relationship is between comments, how what is said should be heard (whether anger or joking is meant), and many other kinds of information. Adopting а cross-cultural perspective, Gumperz developed а method for investigating the process of contextualization cues by examining situations where they fail to work. When speakers share similar cultural backgrounds, then contextualization cues are also shared and speakers rarely misunderstand.

However, when cues are not shared, misunderstandings prevail. Schiffrin ( 1994) interprets his main contribution as emanating from his studies of the way people within а larger culture, who are members of smaller, distinct cultures, may share grammatical knowledge of а common language (such as English) but may also contextualize what is said differently than а member of the larger culture. In this way, messages are produced that are understood perhaps partially, but not completely, such that people take away different interpretations of what was said and done.

The following is а well known example from Gumperz (1982: 3o) cited by Schiffrin (1994: 7): Following an informal graduate seminar at а major university, а black student approached the instructor, who was about to leave the room accompanied by several other black and white students, and said: Could І talk to you for а minute? І am gonna apply for а fellowship and І was wondering if І could get а recommendation? The instructor replied: oK. Come along to the office and tell me what you want to do. As the instructor and the rest of the group left the room, the black student said, turning his head ever so slightly to the other students:

Ahma git me а gig! (Rough gloss: І am going to get myself some support. ) Before exploring how different interpretations were made by listeners, this example can serve to illustrate what interactional sociolinguistic data is and how its analysis proceeds. First, а sociolinguist analyzes actual utterances that have been written down immediately or recorded on tape by an investigator. Significant to sociolinguistics is that these are not data generated from the analysts mind or experience but rather have been actually uttered by а human being in а natural context.

Second, examples from data are always accompanied by а brief explanation of the contextthe physical setting, social roles, relationships of other participants, and other information. Any utterance can be the focus of analysis by asking, how was this utterance understood by the people who heard it, and how did these participants arrive at their interpretation? For the sociolinguist, this entails describing the grammatical knowledge of participants and the socio-cultural knowledge that listeners rely on to understand the messages conveyed.

Specifically, such an analysis accounts for the way explicit linguistic signs, such as word choice, intonation, rhythm, stress, and lexical and phonetic choices indicate speaker intent and also how social knowledge influenced а listeners interpretation. When these cues are tacitly shared by speakers, interpretive processes tend to go un-remarked. However, when а listener does not react to а cue or is unaware of its function, interpretations vary, misunderstandings occur, and judgments are made.

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