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Journal Article

Reinventing Ethnopoetics

Robert Moore
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 50, No. 1-3, Special Triple Issue: Ethnopoetics, Narrative Inequality, and Voice: The Legacy of Dell Hymes (January/December 2013), pp. 13-39
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/jfolkrese.50.1-3.13
Stable URL:
Page Count: 28
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Reinventing Ethnopoetics
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Abstract Ethnopoetics in its Hymesian mode has primarily been an intervention into the printed form of texts, a way of (re)arranging the transcript of an event of oral narration so as to recover “the literary form in which the native words had their being” (Hymes 1981, 384). Building on Hymes's legacy, I seek to develop new analytic tools and transcription practices that are useful for studying contemporary transformations of narrative in multilingual speech communities undergoing language shift and obsolescence. This alternative approach, which originated in my attempts to capture an elderly narrator's frequent switching back and forth between narration in Kiksht (Wasco-Wishram Chinookan) and English, seeks to re-orient ethnopoetics from a recuperative focus on past narrative practices to a conceptual framework that enables field researchers to take into consideration the shifting linguistic environment(s) in which narration continues to take place in the present. A commentary to this essay by Richard Bauman appears later in this special issue.

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