Representing the ideal self: Represented speech and performance roles in fulfulde personal narratives

Annette R. Harrison

Abstract

This study applies the concepts of frames and performance roles (Bauman and Briggs 1990; Bauman 1993; Goffman 1974) to represented speech in personal narratives of speakers of Fulfulde, a Niger-Congo language of the (West) Atlantic group. Contextualization cues such as verbal suffixes indicating voice and aspect, person reference and references to states of knowledge index the frame of interaction between storyteller and audience, the frame of the narrated story, and an enacted frame that recontextualizes events within the story world. These cues also signal performance roles within the frame, such as the addressing self, the principal and the animator. The multiple frames and performance roles indexed by represented speech allow the speaker to represent past and present selves, and more importantly, to make an implicit comparison between the states of knowledge at various points in time in the performance of the narrative. In this way, the speaker distributes responsibility, blame and praise across multiple depictions of the self such that the one most accessible to the audience is portrayed as a superior representation of cultural ideals.

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