LINGUIST List 33.2401

Wed Aug 03 2022

Calls: Writing Systems/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 20-Jul-2022
From: Neal Norrick <>
Subject: (A)typicality in narrative forms and practices
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: (A)typicality in narrative forms and practices

Date: 09-Jul-2023 - 14-Jul-2023
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Contact Person: Neal Norrick
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Writing Systems

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2022

Meeting Description:

The announced theme of the conference “The shape of interaction: the pragmatics of (a)typicality” provides the impetus for this panel inviting contributors to develop their own various perspectives on (a)typicality in narrative forms and practices: Atypicality as tellability in narrative, (re)telling typical stories, (a)typicality in narrative identity construction, formulaic narrative structures, the evolution of typical narrative practices in new interfaces, and diverse approaches to describing typicality such as quantification via corpus linguistic methods.

Certain features are typical of narrative at the macro-level: recurrent story types, stories as anticipated responses and characteristic speech acts such as confessions. On the micro-level, narration typically unfolds sequentially in past tense clauses, while breaks in sequential order, tense shifts, and negation are atypical structures generating inferences. Typical phrases or formulas occur at characteristic junctures such as prefaces and closings; especially in recurrent “typical” stories, one finds formulaic moves like the climax phrase: “and I said ‘this is it’” in near-death stories (Labov), while atypical wordings can achieve novel results.

From an epistemic perspective, the teller typically has knowledge of an event to impart to listeners and bears responsibility for clear, concise telling, but less typically the teller cannot completely reconstruct an event, and seeks to rationalize the performance saying “I don’t remember exactly” and the like; less typically listeners ask questions, express doubts and fill in blanks to ensure uptake according to the principle of “epistemic vigilance” (Sperber et al.).

Typically, tellability is determined by newsworthiness or reportability, but there’s a “dark side of tellability” (Norrick), where the determining factors are taste, tact and social distance. In some (atypical?) contexts, like children recounting their daily experiences at the dinner table and the retelling of family stories, newsworthiness typically fades, replaced by interest in a child’s developing narrative competence and the rapport of co-narration respectively.

Typical is a single focalization (Genette), namely internal on the teller-protagonist in personal experience narratives, but a switch to an external (omniscient) perspective can produce comments about unrealized trajectories and future outcomes; in narratives of vicarious experience focalization is typically omniscient, but it can narrow to detail perceptions and feelings of the protagonist and even include play-acting on the part of the teller.

The notion of a typical story from the perspective of face-to-face interaction is now evolving along with the dynamic interplay of affordances offered by varying platforms, as genres and practices develop through story sharing, recontextualization and resemiotization on social media (de Fina). Recently the pandemic has further disrupted traditional production formats for narratives, moving them to online interfaces, which has in turn affected typical narrative practices and reactions to stories; finally, narrative formats are being used atypically to envision future developments, as in narratives conceptualizing cell-based and lab-grown foods.

These themes and related issues will be addressed in the contributions to this panel.

Call for Papers:

submissions to panel ''(A)typicality in narrative forms and practices''
20-minute presentation, 10 minute discussion

18th International Pragmatics Conference
Brussels, Belgium
9-14 July 2023

Page Updated: 03-Aug-2022