Data analysis

I did this assignment for the story analysis midterm of ANP 420. During this particular piece we were asked to record and transcribe a story told by friends or family members, then use Labov’s elements of story-telling to analyze the narrative, and in the end use Holmes’ model of why do people tell stories to do a in-depth of the narrators’ motives and other elements implied by their story.

For this assignment I chose to record one conversation among my parents and I and translate it from Chinese into English. The story is basically about their trip to an old town called West Creek near our hometown and their visit of Huanghai Park in that old town. I use transcription keys provided by Labov’s narrative analysis to highlight non-verbal movements, a short stretch of time between narratives, pauses, narratives that were pronounced with emphasis like higher volume and pitch, and narratives spoke through our regional dialect. Then I identify the abstract, orientation, complicating actions, evaluation, and resolution of the story using Labov’s model.

For the narrative analysis of the whole story, I find out a large degree of ambiguity throughout their evaluations on each part of the trip – they would often prefer not to directly express their opinions towards the experiences as either good or bad, especially for my father. While my mother would more willingly show her disappointments, but for the sake of keeping the whole conversation in a light mood (since it is a weekly family video-chat), she would not expressively criticize certain experiences. I also found out that they would often use dialect when describing a terrifying encounter with snake and an old Chinese saying, despite the fact that mandarin is the language we often use among our household. This finding is really interesting and I hope to explore the role of dialect in contemporary China more for my future study.