|Author(s)||Mark Dingemanse, Giovanni Rossi, Simeon Floyd|
|Title||Place reference in story beginnings: A cross-linguistic study of narrative and interactional affordances|
|Tag(s)||Storytelling, place, narrative, Conversation Analysis, Interactional linguistics|
|Journal||Language in Society|
People often begin stories in conversation by referring to person, time, and place. We study story beginnings in three societies and find place reference is recurrently used to (i) set the stage, foreshadowing the type of story and the kind of response due, and to (ii) make the story cohere, anchoring ele- ments of the developing story. Recipients orient to these interactional affor- dances of place reference by responding in ways that attend to the relevance of place for the story and by requesting clarification when references are incon- gruent or noticeably absent. The findings are based on 108 story beginnings in three unrelated languages: Cha’palaa, a Barbacoan language of Ecuador; Northern Italian, a Romance language of Italy; and Siwu, a Kwa language of Ghana. The commonalities suggest we have identified generic affordances of place reference, and that storytelling in conversation offers a robust se- quential environment for systematic comparative research.