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So sánh đối chiếu đặc điểm chuyện kể về cá nhân trong các chương trình truyền hình talk show mỹ và việt nam

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES
*******************

LÊ THỊ KHÁNH LINH

A CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS ON PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN
AMERICAN AND VIETNAMESE TALK SHOWS
SO SÁNH ĐỐI CHIẾU ĐẶC ĐIỂM CHUYỆN KỂ VỀ CÁ NHÂN
TRONG CÁC CHƢƠNG TRÌNH TRUYỀN HÌNH TALK SHOW
MỸ VÀ VIỆT NAM

M.A. COMBINED PROGRAM THESIS

Field: English Linguistics
Code: 60220201

HANOI – 2016



VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES
*******************

LÊ THỊ KHÁNH LINH

A CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS ON PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN
AMERICAN AND VIETNAMESE TALK SHOWS
SO SÁNH ĐỐI CHIẾU ĐẶC ĐIỂM CHUYỆN KỂ VỀ CÁ NHÂN
TRONG CÁC CHƢƠNG TRÌNH TRUYỀN HÌNH TALK SHOW
MỸ VÀ VIỆT NAM

M.A. COMBINED PROGRAM THESIS

Field: English Linguistics
Code: 60220201
Supervisor: Đỗ Thị Thanh Hà, PhD

HANOI – 2016


STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP
This is to certify that the thesis entitled “A contrastive analysis on personal
narratives in American and Vietnamese TV talk shows” has been written by me and the
work in it has not previously been submitted for a degree. In addition, I also certify that all
information sources and literature have been indicated in the thesis.
Hanoi, 2016

Lê Thị Khánh Linh

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express the deepest gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Đỗ Thị Thanh Hà,
for her invaluable encouragement and useful comments and advice during the whole
process of this master thesis. Without her immense help, this study could not have been
completed.
Also, I am thankful to all my lecturers as well as staff at Faculty of Post Graduate


Studies, University of Languages and International Studies, VNU for their great support
and suggestions.
Finally, my special thanks go to my beloved family and friends for their love, care
and support during my MA course, especially on the completion of this thesis.

Hanoi, 2016

Lê Thị Khánh Linh

ii


ABSTRACT
As narratives play a principal role in human life, much research has been conducted
to enrich the insight into this subject. However, not many studies about oral narratives can
be found, especially in the realm of cross-linguistic research. This study, therefore, aims to
illuminate the similarities and differences between personal narratives in American TV talk
shows and those in Vietnamese ones in terms of their generic structures and evaluative
strategies. The study is guided by three research questions regarding these features of
narratives in the two languages. To address these questions fully, two models of narrative
structure and evaluation were adopted and developed. Fifteen extracts from five American
TV talk shows and the other fifteen from five Vietnamese ones were collected as the thesis
corpus and subsequently analyzed, through descriptive as well as contrastive methods, to
seek the answers to the research questions. The findings from the thesis illustrate how
narrative structure and evaluation in American and Vietnamese talk shows resemble each
other at the first glance, but significantly differ when it comes to interactional aspects and
expression of personal identity. These differences may be resulted from various factors,
including communicating style, history of the shows in the two countries and cultural
issues. It is hoped that the theoretical contributions and practical applications of the thesis
would be of help for linguists, teachers, learners and those who are concerned.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP......................................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................ii
ABSTRACT .........................................................................................................................iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................................................................................... iv
LIST OF TABLES .............................................................................................................. vi
LIST OF FIGURES AND CHARTS ................................................................................vii
Chapter I: INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 1
1.1. Rationale ..................................................................................................................... 1
1.2. Aims of the study ........................................................................................................ 2
1.3. Scope of the study ....................................................................................................... 2
1.4. Significance of the study............................................................................................. 2
1.5. Outline of the thesis .................................................................................................... 3
Chapter II: LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................... 4
2.1. Narratives .................................................................................................................... 4
2.1.1. Locating narratives .............................................................................................. 4
2.1.2. Conversational Personal Narratives ................................................................... 8
2.1.3. Narrative structure .............................................................................................. 9
2.1.4. Narrative evaluation .......................................................................................... 13
2.2. TV talk shows ........................................................................................................... 17
2.2.1. Defining TV talk shows ...................................................................................... 17
2.2.2 Semi – institutional feature ................................................................................. 19
2.2.3. Narratives in TV talk shows ............................................................................... 19
2.3. Related cultural concepts .......................................................................................... 20
2.4. Previous studies on Vietnamese narratives ............................................................... 22
2.5. Concluding remarks .................................................................................................. 23
Chapter III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ............................................................... 24
3.1. Research questions .................................................................................................... 24
3.2. Research methods ..................................................................................................... 24
3.3. Data collection procedure ......................................................................................... 25
3.4. Data analysis ............................................................................................................. 29

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3.4.2. Narrative evaluation .......................................................................................... 30
Chapter IV: FINDINGS AND DISCUSION ................................................................... 33
A. FEATURES OF PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN AMERICAN TALK SHOWS .... 33
4.1. Structure of personal narratives in American talk shows ......................................... 33
4.2. Evaluative strategies in American personal narratives ............................................. 46
B. FEATURES OF PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN VIETNAMESE TALK SHOWS 54
4.3. Structure of personal narratives in Vietnamese talk shows ...................................... 54
4.4. Evaluative strategies in Vietnamese personal narratives .......................................... 64
C. COMPARISON OF STRUCTURES AND EVALUATIVE STRATEGIES
BETWEEN AMERICAN AND VIETNAMESE PERSONAL NARRATIVES ............ 73
4.5. Comparison of structures between American and Vietnamese narratives................ 73
4.6. Comparison of evaluation between American and Vietnamese narratives .............. 77
4.7. Concluding remarks .................................................................................................. 80
Chapter V: CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................ 81
5.1. Summary of the thesis............................................................................................... 81
5.2. Summary of the findings........................................................................................... 81
5.2.1. Narrative structure ............................................................................................ 82
5.2.2. Narrative evaluation .......................................................................................... 82
5.3. Practical implications ................................................................................................ 83
5.4. Suggestions for further study .................................................................................... 84
REFERENCES................................................................................................................... 85
APPENDICES .......................................................................................................................I

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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: List of American TV talk shows............................................................................ 26
Table 2: List of Vietnamese TV talk shows ........................................................................ 27
Table 3: Frequency of narrating components in American talk shows ............................... 33
Table 4: Techniques of narrative ongoing responses in American talk shows .................... 42
Table 5: Distribution of evaluative strategies in personal narratives in American talk shows .. 47
Table 6: Frequency of narrating components in Vietnamese talk shows ............................ 54
Table 7: Techniques of narrative ongoing responses in Vietnamese talk shows................. 61
Table 8: Distribution of evaluative strategies in personal narratives in Vietnamese talk shows .. 65
Table 9: Ongoing responsive turns in American and Vietnamese narratives ...................... 75

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LIST OF FIGURES AND CHARTS
Chart 1: Narrative components in Vietnamese and American TV talk shows .................... 73
Chart 2: Proportion of ongoing appreciation devices in American and Vietnamese
narratives ............................................................................................................... 76
Chart 3: Distribution of evaluative strategies in personal narratives in Vietnamese and
American talk shows ............................................................................................. 78

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Names of American hosts and guests
OW:

Oprah Winfrey

JT:

Justin Timberlake

WH:

Whitney Houston

DB:

Dakota Blue

JKR:

Joanne Katherine Rowling

LK:

Larry King

RM:

Ricky Martin

JBJ:

Jon Bon Jovi

JL:

Jay Leno

GB:

Garth Brooks

EL:

Evangeline Lilly

JD:

Johnny Depp

JR:

Jason Reitman

DL:

David Letterman

MW:

Michelle Williams

MH:

Marg Helgenberger

ED:

Ellen DeGeneres

EW:

Emma Watson

CGM:

Chloe Grace Moretz

TH:

Tom Hanks

Names of Vietnamese hosts and guests
TBL:

Tạ Bích Loan

LMH:

Lương Mạnh Hải

PQ:

Phú Quang

GM:

Giáng My

NC:

Nguyễn Cường

MV:

Minh Vy

TĐK:

Trần Đăng Khoa

QL:

Quyền Linh

S:

Mr. Shoulder

PNA:

Phi Ngọc Ánh

MT:

Mỹ Tâm

PD:

Phương Dung

THT:

Thủy Tiên

CT:

Công Tố

CP:

Chi Pu

QĐ:

Quang Đăng

LQV:

Lê Quốc Vinh

TN:

Trúc Nhân

ĐT:

Đức Trí

TT:

Tiên Tiên

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Chapter I: INTRODUCTION
1.1. Rationale
Human beings are story tellers by nature; “narrative is present in every age, in
every place, in every society” and it is “international, transhistorical, transcultural; it is
simply there, like life itself” (Barthes, 1977: 79). There is no denying that narratives,
through the long history of human race, have effectively functioned as a principal and
constant means of human expression, of real or made up stories, of personal, institutional
or social matters. Storytelling not only depicts accounts of events by reporting or
recapitulating them but also conveys certain personal perspectives and attitudes towards
what happened or what would happen. Among various forms, narratives performed by
language have typical features that vary from culture to culture, resulting in its diversity all
over the world. Linguists and people interested, therefore, are highly inspired to approach
narratives from many directions at different levels.
One of the common areas employing narratives is TV talk shows. In recent years,
this programming genre has proved its attraction through increasing audience ratings; and
it is narratives that contribute to the success of these shows. Though stories can be of
numberless issues, from individual experiences and family matters to social concerns, there
exists two-way communication: stories are elicited and encouraged by hosts and shared by
guests. Directed to be broadcast, however, TV talk shows still portray people‟s
spontaneous interaction and contain interesting linguistic properties to be explored. Thus,
considerable inroads in narratives appearing in talk shows are a necessity for broadening
human knowledge and revealing the way to exploit it to the full.
Nevertheless, it is the fact that while ample papers have been conducted into the
discourse of narratives in press like news, short stories, or novels; very little has been done
involving spoken version. Insufficient consideration in how humans orally produce a story,
like in TV talk shows, has left a gap to be filled. That has driven me to carry out the
present study to analyze and compare characteristics of narratives in Vietnamese and
American TV talk shows, with the hope to provide conceptual understanding and helpful
implications in the use of the two languages. Entitled “A contrastive analysis on personal
narratives in American and Vietnamese TV talk shows”, the paper is expected to be a
beneficial reference for those who are concerned like show hosts, translators, and
especially language teachers and learners.

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1.2. Aims of the study
The fundamental purpose of the current thesis is to contribute to a comprehensive
insight into linguistic features which characterize narratives, particularly those in TV talk
shows. To realize this, generic structure and evaluative elements of narratives in American
and Vietnamese TV talk shows are to be taken into consideration. The research then
focuses on identifying, analyzing and justifying the similar and different points in narrative
structure and evaluation in the two languages. Additionally, for teachers and learners of
English as well as concerned people, it aims at providing some helpful guides for better
understanding and further advancements in their intercultural communication.
1.3. Scope of the study
There are a plenty of issues in the analysis of oral narratives like content, language,
voice, spatial and temporal factors; there also exist numerous fields that exploit narratives
such as education, health care, advertising and mass media. Within the scope of this study,
only personal narratives about life and career of celebrities in American and Vietnamese
TV talk shows are investigated. In more details, the emphasis is on presenting and
analyzing narrative structure – how parts of stories are ordered and expressed; and
narrative evaluation – what evaluative devices are principally utilized to indicate
participants‟ attitudes towards their stories. Based on this paper, further studies would be
extended and developed in suitable directions.
In details, the study focuses on answering the following research questions:
1. What generic structure and evaluative strategies characterize personal narratives
in American talk shows?
2. What are generic structure and evaluative strategies employed in personal
narratives in Vietnamese talk shows?
3. How are personal narratives in American and Vietnamese talk shows similar and
different in terms of structure and evaluation?
1.4. Significance of the study
The accomplishment of the current study is believed to make significant theoretical
and pedagogical contributions.
First, interpretations of the findings will enrich our knowledge on narratives
employed in TV talk shows, and ours on narrative language in general. The shared and

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distinct traits of narratives in Vietnamese and American shows also generate relevant
explanations from cultural perspective.
Second, with regard to teaching and learning English as a second language, the
research would help teachers and learners grasp the similarities and differences in
storytelling in their native and target languages. Hence, negative pragmatic transfer can be
avoided, and learners can have more native-like narrative style. Furthermore, as TV talk
shows are a great source of authentic materials, it is absolutely possible to recognize
learners‟ improvements in their practical communicative skills.
1.5. Outline of the thesis
As required, the paper will have such main parts as follows:
Chapter I: INTRODUCTION, presents statement of the problem and rationale
for the study, aims, scope, significance, and outline of the study.
Chapter II: LITERATURE REVIEW, clarifies theoretical background and
related studies relevant for the research.
Chapter III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY, elicits information related to
research questions, research methods, data collection, data procedure, coding scheme, and
data analysis.
Chapter IV: FINDINGS AND DISSCUSION constitutes the core of the study
and will be separated into three subsections, correspondent to three research questions.
First, generic structure and evaluative strategies of the American narratives are
investigated. Subsequently, the Vietnamese narratives are analyzed, also in terms of
structure and evaluation. Finally, features of narratives in the two languages are compared
to highlight the similar and different characteristics, which are then justified by appropriate
reasons.
Chapter V: CONCLUSION, summarizes essential findings, provides some
linguistic and pedagogical implications, and gives suggestions for further studies.
Besides, there should be REFERENCES and APPENDICES if any at the end of
the research.

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Chapter II: LITERATURE REVIEW
In this chapter, an overview on related issues will be presented as the theoretical
background for the current study. In detail, we are about to address the concepts of
narratives with special attention to narrative structure and evaluation. Subsequently, how
narratives work in TV talk shows is going to be studied to identify narrative importance
and characteristics in this TV genre. It is expected that the following literature review will
clearly display what has been done and what has not been done in this field.
2.1. Narratives
First and foremost, answering the questions of what narratives are and how they are
characterized is a requisite to understand the subject matter of the thesis.
2.1.1. Locating narratives
2.1.1.1. Definitions
Narratives are present in every corner of life, in various forms and serve ample goals.
Claiming the plurality and ubiquity of narratives, Barthes (1977) gives a very detailed
description. He first emphasizes the “numberless” quantity of narratives with “a prodigious
variety of genres, themselves distributed amongst different substances”. The channels to
transfer human stories are highly diversified, including “articulated language, spoken or
written, fixed or moving images, gestures, and the ordered mixture of all these substances”.
That enables narratives to frequently appear in myth, legend, fable, tale, novella, epic,
history, tragedy, drama, comedy, mime, painting (think of Carpaccio‟s Saint Ursula),
stained glass windows, cinema, comics, news item, and conversation. According to
Barthes, moreover, “under this almost infinite diversity of forms, narrative is present in
every age, in every place, in every society; it begins with the very history of mankind and
there nowhere is nor has been a people without narrative. All classes, all human groups,
have their narratives, enjoyment of which is very often shared by men with different, even
opposing, cultural backgrounds” (Barthes, 1977: 79).
Though a narrative is said to be “simply there, like life itself” (Barthes, 1977: 79), there
is a wide and complicated range of variation in how the concept of personal narrative is
acquired. The very first point to consider is a comparison of narratives and stories. According
to Abbott (2002: 19), “narrative is the representation of events, consisting of story and

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narrative discourse; story is an event or sequence of events (the action); and narrative discourse
is those events as represented”. It is then up to the narrators to decide the order in which events
are recounted and style of telling. However, in this paper, the two terms narratives and stories
are used interchangeably to refer to the representation of a series of events meaningfully
connected in a temporal and causal way.
From perspective of social history and anthropology, a very traditional work by
Myerhoff (1978) regards narrative as the entire life story, an amalgam of autobiographical
materials. In a more restrictive way by other scholars, narrative refers to brief and topically
specific stories in response to a single question. These discrete stories are organized around
characters, setting and plot to report what the narrator witnessed or experienced. For
instance, Labov and Waletzky (1967) collected stories from subjects about their “life
threatening experiences” by means of an interview and analyzed narratives from structural
analysis approach. Their significant finding of a six-element narrative model has shed the
light for numerous later papers.
The concept of narrative as discrete stories gives way to a larger section of talk and
interview exchanges - extended accounts of events, experiences framed though
interactional activities. Considered as conversational stories, they are negotiable and
collaboratively developed between participants who can take the role of narrator or
recipient (Polanyi, 1985). Research on this kind of narratives pays close attention to two
issues of how stories get told by narrators and how recipients respond to the storytelling.
Clearly, this view brings a broader and much more interactive concept of narrative in
comparison with Labovian model.

Since personal stories in American and Vietnamese

TV talk shows are treated as data of my thesis, Polanyi‟s approach is adopted.
Apparently, a narrative can be perceived as large as a dairy of a life journey or as
specific as one of hundreds of stories in daily conversation. Though there is no definite
definition, the concepts of narratives share some common features. The first one to be
mentioned is sequence: something has to happen, and one action is followed by another.
As defined by Abbott (2002), narrative is “the representation of an event or a series of
events” and the plot is usually in chronological sequence. Secondly, narratives are also
characterized by particular linguistic devices that enable narrators to link single accounts

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and make a point for their story. Hence, a narrative not only reports what happened or
would happen but also conveys numerous attitudes and meanings.
2.1.1.2. Functions of Narratives
The presence of narration in our daily life is so natural that sometimes we do not
notice its paramount importance. In fact, the functions of narratives are manifold. In the
information society where people need to share experiences and establish relationships,
narratives have become a principal means of communication regardless of nationality,
language and culture. Norrick (2000) clarifies that stories are told to express tellers‟
viewpoint, to catch up on each other‟s lives, to inform news and to entertain each other.
There is no doubt that narratives are an effective bridge to connect people as well as
enhance their relationships.
According to some scholars, narratives function as an indispensable tool to develop
tellers‟ critical thinking and linguistic ability. The key role of narratives in mental and
linguistic development is noted by McCabe & Bliss (2003). Narratives, first and most
important, are home for our experiences to be made sense of. After several times of telling
and retelling, a story will improve in coherence, which gives us the feeling that we really
know what happened. Narratives also enable us to represent ourselves. For instance, the
ways we tell about an experience to a parent and to a friend are quite different.
Furthermore, from pedagogical view, narratives effectively help to develop oral and
writing skills as they are a memorable way of making the past present and the abstract
concrete. Throughout the life span, narratives appear in many cases from daily
conversations to communication with people in medical or legal profession. It can be said
that narratives are integral to all walks of life and ages.
2.1.1.3. Features of Narratives
There are features that define the nature of narratives; however, before any
characteristics are explored, a discussion of time is necessary. It is commonly known that
time is constant, and everyday human beings experience a linear series of events. Some of
the events originate from the cyclic nature of environment like night and day, seasons,
years; while the others are cultural constructs such as holidays, mealtime, and weddings. In
a more personal sense, time is divided into certain amounts of time to carry out certain
jobs. Time exists in human life as an unchangeable denominator, for every activity and
every individual. This constant entity largely contributes to the essence of narratives: all

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narratives “depict a temporal transition from one state of affairs to another” (Ochs, 1997:
189); and temporal attribute of narrative can be regarded as the “chronological dimension”,
linguistically expressed by a sequence of temporally ordered clauses (Labov, 1972).
Nonetheless, the notion of time in narratives is not perceived in a straightforward
way as it first seems since it is decided psychologically by narrators. To illustrate, some
events that last for years can be briefly summarized in a few narrative sentences, whereas
some that take seconds may be described and retold meticulously in pages. The two time
streams cogently indicate the subjectivity of narration as well as strongly claim that
narrative “is the principal way in which our species organizes its understanding of time”
(Abbott, 2002: 3).
The above premise about time and events evokes defining characteristics of
narratives, including event sequentiality and event selection. First, “the narrative is a
sequential composite” (Chatman, 1978: 20). Event sequencing refers to the way narrators
order and tie single accounts to construct a complete story. Clearly, events in narratives
need not to follow the order they actually happened but can be combined and recombined
in a variety of ways. The narrative must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but
unnecessarily in that order (Chandler, 2002). Bruner (1990) also suggests that inherent
sequentiality is the fundamental feature of narration. It is further explained by the fact that
a narrative is constructed from a certain sequence of events, mental states, happenings
involving human beings as characters or actors. He emphasizes “these are its constituents.
But these constituents do not, as it were, have a life or meaning of their own. Their
meaning is given by their place in the overall configuration of the sequence as a whole...”
(Bruner, 1990: 43).
Narratives are also characterized by event selection. When a story is told, only
necessary accounts are mentioned despite the fact there are a lot of things happening in
reality. Choosing what should be narrated is closely associated with the point of the story –
the message conveyed by the narrator (Chandler, 2002). This is to say that no matter what
events are selected and how they are ordered, it is the narrators‟ point of view and intention
which decide the content and organization of what they tell. “A tale or anecdote, that is, a
replaying, is not merely any reporting of a past event” but “a replaying, in brief, recounts a
personal experience” (Goffman, 1974: 504). Therefore, with the same experience, different
narrators will produce different stories.

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From structural approach, three properties are included: wholeness, self-regulation,
and transformation. A narrative is whole as it ties single and discrete events in its own
logical organization. Self-regulation refers to the ability of the structure to maintain and
close itself. Finally, transformation means events are selected and ordered based on
narrators‟ purpose (Chatman, 1978).
Examining narratives, Ochs and Capps (2001) propose five dimensions: tellership,
tellability, embeddedness, linearity, and moral stance. Tellership concerns the extent and
kind of involvement of conversational partners in the recounting of a narrated event. It can
involve a teller who recounts an event to a passive audience to a set of active tellers jointly
developing a story. A teller may be influenced by the thoughts and words of others.
Tellability is the quality that makes a narrated event inherently worth telling, in particular,
its significance for the narrator. The way narratives stem from surrounding discourse and
the larger cultural setting is called embeddedness. These events typically have a point,
make a comparison, or justify a concern. Linearity deals with the extent to which narratives
depict events as transpiring in a single, closed, temporal, and causal path or in diverse,
open, and uncertain paths. Moral stance means a disposition toward good and how one
ought to live in the world. Based on standards of goodness, individuals judge themselves
and others.
2.1.2. Conversational Personal Narratives
Narrative analysis has drawn considerable attention and covered a wide range of
linguistic approaches. To date, much of the research has focused on written discourse such
as novels, short stories, as well as news and modern investigation follows this tradition.
Recently, oral narratives have become the subject matter of practical papers and
contributed numerous applications in many aspects. The theory on oral narratives was
pioneered by Labov & Waletzky (1967) with monologic stories from interviews in which
participants answered a single question about their dangerous experiences. The corpus of
storied form was also collected when participants were asked to retell a film, a picture
story or a story previously read.
However, it should be noticed that ordinary conversation is the natural home to
narratives and stories told in conversation are fundamental means of transferring
experience (Ochs, 1997). Compared to non-conversational stories, conversational

8


narratives share some features but much more interactive and negotiated. They may be
“deeply contextualized, diffuse, and not easily detachable from the local conditions that
occasion them or understandable outside of them” (Norrick, 2000: 127). Narratives, in
general, are authored by both those who introduce them and recipients; and this is
especially evident in conversational storytelling (Goodwin, 1984; Ochs et al., 1992).
Different from interview – style narration where there is a single teller with a particular
question, conversational storytelling is constructed by the participants‟ co-authorship.
Sometimes, identifying the primary teller is not easy in conversation as whoever takes part
in conversations can become co – narrators. This reflects the dimension of tellership
proposed by Ochs and Capps (2001). Furthermore, the presence of listener response during
and at the end of the narratives creates a typical property that distinguishes conversational
stories from non – conversational ones (Schegloff, 1997).
2.1.3. Narrative structure
One of the most influential structures of oral narratives is proposed by Labov and
Waletzky (1967) and Labov (1972). According to Labovian model, a full formed oral
narrative includes six stages serving six functions as follows: Abstract (What is the story
about?), Orientation (Who, when, where, how?), Complicating action (Then what
happened?), Evaluation (How or why is this interesting?), Result/ Resolution (What finally
happened?), and Coda. Though this prototypical six-part structure has been widely used to
analyze spoken narratives, it is just appropriate for detached, autonomous and selfcontained stories with very clearly identifiable parts.
Regarding narratives in conversations, a model that covers the roles of both narrators
and recipients should be employed. As concluded by Sacks (1974), most conversional
analysts would agree that stories are structured with three “serially ordered and adjacently
placed types of sequences”: Preface Sequence to establish the necessary conditions to tell a
story; Telling Sequence to present the story which is shaped by coordination between
storytellers and audiences; and Response Sequence to indicate the audiences‟ feedback
generates subsequent talk. He and other linguists treat organization of storytelling as
sequenced units based on the claim that “turn-taking is the basic form of organization for
conversation”. In an attempt to identify the coordination of participants to produce a story,
Goodwin (1984) suggests the following interactional techniques:

9


(1)

story preface,

(2)

story solicit,

(3)

preliminary to the story,

(4)

story action

(5)

parenthesis

(6)

story climax and

(7)

story appreciation

This model of storytelling procedure can be seen as a clarification of the structure
proposed by Sacks (1974). It is clear to figure out that story prefaces and story solicits are
two kinds of preface sequence; while telling sequence in the former model is divided into
preliminaries to the story, story action, parenthesis and story climax. Finally, sequence
acknowledging recipients‟ attention is named story appreciation. In the following part,
each unit in the storytelling procedure will be examined in detail.
Normally, conversational narratives can be launched with story prefaces and/ or story
solicits to signal the upcoming stories and align participants. Story preface is performed by
the story teller as an announcement that the speaker has a story to tell. Sacks (1974) says
that the preface provides a chance for potential recipients to preempt the story delivery if
they have already heard it. It can also force “knowing recipients” to express their shared
knowledge of the story events and make contributions to the story. A preface sequence,
therefore, can take a minimal length of two turns where there are an offer of a story by the
teller (for example, “You want to hear a story?” or “I have something terrible to tell you.”)
and an acceptance or rejection by the recipient. It can be seen that the negotiation property
is demonstrated right at the beginning of conversational narratives. A preface sequence
also shapes the tellability of the story by displaying one or more of the components: (a) an
offer or request to tell the story, (b) an initial characterization of the story (for instance,
something terrible), (c) some reference to the time when the story events occurred, and (d)
reference to the story source.
Serving the function of initiating the story, yet story solicit comes from the recipient.
At any point of interaction, even after the story preface, a member of the audience can
solicit a story from the potential speaker. Mandelbaum (1987) stresses the active role of
recipients as “knowing participants” or as “unknowing participants” in the beginning, as

10


well as during the story delivery. In this case, recipients align with narrators and present
themselves as co-tellers to develop the story.
The teller begins their own story with preliminary - the background information that
sets the scene for what is being told. This part will provide necessary data for the recipient
to comprehend and enjoy the story. Preliminaries can be in the form of the “who”,
“where”, “what” and “why”. The main body of the narrative is story action that
recapitulates what happened or would happened through narrative clauses. The “punch
line” of the story, termed by Goodwin (1984) as story climax, is the high point of the story
at which the problem is solved and the story is concluded. Climax in Goodwin‟s narrative
structure can be considered equivalent to resolution in Labovian model, not climax as the
strongest part in complicating action. However, preliminaries and story actions do not
always move to story climax in a straightforward path but sometimes shift to a
parenthesis. This is a situation when the teller breaks off the story-in-progress to insert
further information for better understanding of the story. Goodwin (1984) states that
parenthesis is a useful tool to explain any details that have already been stated or to supply
information to particular descriptions of events and/ or people to make them more vivid.
Story appreciation refers to the audience‟s response to the story. This might be made
during story or at the end, consisting of questions, agreements, comments, laughter, or
other signs of emotions. Though narrators are the main speakers, there is no point of telling
a story without recipients. According to Goodwin (1984), the verbal and non-verbal
reactions of the recipients directly influence the unfolding of the main speakers‟ turns. This
ongoing reception refers to recipiency throughout the delivery of the story, and should be
differentiated from the actions that constitute final reception at the end of the story.
Actively participating in the construction of the narration, the recipients can express
preferred or dispreferred response to a storyteller‟s turns. Preferred methods for
responding to the given story concern showing alignment with the storytellers by
exhibiting talk that corresponds to the story. Alignment and affiliation are indicated
through response tokens, agreement with the speakers, upgrades of agreement, stating the
upshot of the storytelling sequence for the teller, and repetition. Especially, such response
tokens as uh huh, or yeah with a slightly raised intonation are commonly utilized to claim
alignment and acknowledge the story as well as invite further information. In contrast,

11


dispreffered methods including silence and dropping intonation of the response tokens
display disinterest and lack of desire to hear more (Sacks, 1974; Goodwin, 1984).
Upon the completion of a story, the recipients are expected to fulfill three relevant
tasks:
(1) display understanding of the completion,
(2) show appreciation of the point of the story, and
(3) demonstrate the story‟s potential to generate subsequent talk
(Sacks, 1974; Jefferson, 1978).
Consociate entry can enter this final reception when narrative consociates produce
their own assessment of the story or supply an additional episode related to the given one
(Lerner, 1992). If any story response is absent at the story completion, the teller may add
various expansions to gain recipient responses (Jefferson, 1978).
Goodwin (1984: ) exemplifies the subsections of storytelling sequence through the
following conversation. At a picnic, Anna tells the story of what happened when she and
her husband visited their friend Karen‟s house for the first time.
01

Ann:

02

Well. We could‘ve used a little,
Marijuana, to get through the weekend.

03

Beth:

What happened?

04

Ann:

Karen has this new house, and it‘s got

05

all this like – silvery gold wallpaper

06

and Don says, y‘know this is the first time

07

we‘ve seen this house. Fifty thousand dollars in

08

Cherry Hill. Right?

09

Beth:

Uh huh?

10

Ann:

Don said ―Did they make you take

11

this wallpaper? Or

12

did you pick it out?

13

Beth:

14

Don:

Ahh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh
Uhh hih huh

As seen from the conversation, a story preface is expressed in line 1 and 2 when Ann
releases some information about what could be told. Her offer is accepted by Beth‟s story

12


solicit in line 3 (“What happened?”). Then Ann begins the story with a background at lines
04 – 05, that is Karen has a new house with unusual wallpaper. At line 06, Ann is about to
introduce a climax utterance with “Don says”, but she stops to offer more information
called parenthesis (“y‟know this is the first time we‟ve seen this house. Fifty thousand
dollars in Cherry Hill. Right?), and receives Beth‟s agreement and encouragement at line 9
(Uh huh?). At line 10, Ann returns to what Don says – something incredibly inappropriate
and hilarious, making the story interesting. It is the climax of the story. The story ends with
Beth‟s and Don‟s laughter at line 13 and 14 as a story appreciation.
2.1.4. Narrative evaluation
When retelling personal experiences, narratives serve two notable purposes, namely
referential - the teller gives information by referring to the experience and reporting what
happened or would happen, and evaluative - the teller communicates the meaning of the
narrative by establishing some point of personal involvement (Labov & Waletzky, 1967).
Though evaluative elements are optional comments, made at any point in the story, they
play a crucial role in explaining why the story is being told or why the events are worth
telling. A narrator can convey his feelings or attitudes towards to the narrative by
emphasizing the relative importance of some narrative units compared to others. Polanyi
(1981) suggests that since stories include a lot of words, many details and incidents of
various sorts and degrees of importance, tellers evaluate various aspects of their texts
differentially using a variety of conventional “evaluation devices” to point out particularly
important material in the story which they are telling. In a simpler and more affective way,
Grimes (1975) defines evaluations as a tool to bring the listener more closely into the
narration and inform him feelings that goes beyond the bare cognitive structure of what
happened or what deduction is to be made. There are a wide range of ideas clarifying the
virtue of evaluation, in which the most reputable may be Labovian expression. To quote
Labov in full:
Beginnings, middles, and ends of narratives have been analyzed in many
accounts of folklore or narrative. But there is one important aspect of
narrative which has not been discussed — perhaps the most important
element in addition to the basic narrative clause. That is what we term the
evaluation of the narrative: the means used by the narrator to indicate the

13


point of the narrative, its raison d‘être: why it was told, and what the
narrator is getting at. There are many ways to tell the same story, to make
very different points, or to make no point at all. Pointless stories are met
(in English) with the withering rejoinder, ―So what?‖ Every good
narrator is continually warding off this question; when his narrative is
over, it should be unthinkable for a bystander to say, ―So what?‖ Instead,
the appropriate remark would be, ―He did?‖ or similar means of
registering the reportable character of the events of the narrative. (Labov,
1972:366)
It could be seen that evaluation makes critical contribution to the production of
narratives. Without evaluation, a story cannot be complete and it has no point.
Furthermore, as there exist cultural disparities in narrative construction and criteria of
“good” narrative, speakers of different languages value evaluation at different degrees. For
instance, Minami (2008) finds that a good story in English is to inform the listener with not
only referential accounts but also evaluative comments; whereas a good story in Japanese
concentrates on what happened rather than how the teller experienced the event. The
researcher claims that actions, i.e. plot-advancing, sequential foreground information,
would most likely be necessary indicators of a good story told in Japanese.
Narrative evaluation has become a topic of interest and inspired a number of
linguistic projects. One of the most influential frameworks on narrative evaluation is
established by Labov and Waletzky (1967). In their paper, they regard evaluation as a
separate section and identify a variety of means to reveal teller‟s evaluation, ranging from
semantically defined evaluation (including direct statement, and lexical intensifiers),
formally defined evaluation (including suspension of the action), to culturally defined
evaluation (including symbolic action and judgment of a third person).
Later, Labov (1972) recognizes that evaluation in fact is interspersed throughout the
narrative and differentiates two evaluative levels. The first level involves external
evaluation with which the storyteller steps out of the story world and explicitly expresses
his feelings or attitudes towards it. Nevertheless, it is not always a necessity to directly
state what the point of the narrative is. The narrators, instead, can utilize embedded
evaluation, which helps them implicitly convey their personal comments. Embedded
evaluation concerns sentiments as if they occurred at the time of the happening, rather than

14


at the time of the telling. Internal evaluation in narratives is communicated through
evaluative devices – syntactic and phonological features deliberately used by the narrator
to hold his hearer‟s attention, to indicate the point of the narrative, and to involve the
hearer in the telling of it. Four categories of internal evaluative devices are suggested by
Labov (1972), namely Intensifiers, Comparators, Correlatives and Explicatives along with
numerous subtypes.
Though largely applied, the Labovian theory of evaluation presents some theoretical
and practical problems. According to some scholars, the identification of the evaluative
devices is difficult because the lack of a one-to-one relationship between form and
evaluative function. One and the same clause may result in different effects, depending on
where it appears in the course of the story delivery (Bamberg, 1987; Cortazzi, 1993).
Another problem is related to the distinction between referential and evaluative function:
clearly, every event in the narrative can be thought of as evaluative, used to show the point
of the story, instead of being simply the representation of a narrative event. Therefore, the
decision on whether one element is referential or evaluative is quite subjective (Culler,
1981). Most importantly, in case of the present paper, Labovian subtypes of internal
evaluation are not really appropriate when applied to Vietnamese language. For instance,
equivalents for such language-specific syntactic elements as right and left participles
cannot be traced in Vietnamese.
The concept of evaluation is expanded by Tannen (1989) with the clearer
demonstration on quotations and repetition. She further emphasizes that the concept of
evaluation is not only relevant to storytelling but also to any discourse because the
speakers methodically employ language to indicate the point of the discourse. The term
involvement strategies are used by Tannen to refer to “a systematic way(s) of using
language” to achieve “an internal, even emotional connection individuals feel which binds
them to other people as well as to places, things, activities, ideas, memories, and words”.
In an investigation into children‟s narratives, Peterson and McCabe (1983) affirm
that communicative efficiency is not the mere purpose of natural human languages, and
that they are constructed the way for speakers‟ attitudes and feelings to be conveyed.
Besides referential indicators of what, when, and where of a narrative, evaluative devices
should be employed to engage listeners and prove why the story is worth telling. In
Peterson and McCabe‟s study, personal narratives of ninety-six children, aged 3,6 to 9,6

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