Publication details [#61082]

Hill, Clair. 2016. Expression of the interpersonal connection between narrators and characters in Umpila and Kuuku Ya’u storytelling. Narrative Inquiry 26 (2) : 257–285.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This article analyses the selection of person reference expressions in narratives in Umpila/Kuuku Ya’u, a Pama-Nyungan language of Cape York Peninsula (Australia). The analysis takes the principle of topic-fittedness, one of a set of design principles proposed to account for the interactional conditioning of person reference formulation, and applies it to Umpila/Kuuku Ya’u narration. The ensuing anlaysis demonstrates that referring practices are conditioned by, and ultimately work to convey, manifold contextual aspects of the narrative and the speech event it is embedded in. The focus is on the narrator’s use and manipulation of kin-terms to highlight the interpersonal connection between themselves and characters. Kin-term expressions are shown to be fitted to the pragmatic-action being undertaken by the narrator: namely, to signal authority to quote another’s words in represented speech; to bolster authority to speak on a subject matter; and to develop a stance in relation to events being narrated.