Study Questions for From Grammar to Politics
Duranti, Alessandro. University of California Press, 1994.
is the difference between "'field linguistics" and "ethnographic
is the "figure-ground relation" representing?
- How does it relate
to the research project described by Duranti?
is the "transformation" undergone by Duranti the researcher
in the field?
- Describe the differences between the language data collected
with bilingual speakers and those taken from spontaneous interactions.
- How did Duranti's interest in speechmaking start?
- What methods
did he used in investigating speechmaking?
- What can you learn from
the description of this process of doing research?
- What is the fono?
- How were the interactions recorded in the village transcribed
- What is the fa`alupega and why it is important
for the researcher?
- What is a transcript?
- What does Chapter 3 say about hierarchy in Samoa?
- How is the fa`alupega useful for making sense of what is going on in
does Duranti say that Samoans love "order and its permutations"?
- What are the relevant (emic) distinctions made by the participants
in sitting inside of a Samoan house?
- What is the relationship between the ideal seating arrangement
and what experienced by documenting actual meetings?
- What do we learn from the episode of the woman titled Tafili going to the fono?
- How does the kava ceremony act as a temporal boundary? What
information does it convey to the participants and the researcher?
- What is the relationship between the order of kava distribution
and the order of speakers?
what sense is the Samoan lauga an "epic" genre?
is the basic plan of the lauga?
is Bloch's position on what he calls "formalized language"?
are the differences between the lauga in ceremony and the läuga
in a fono described in the article that were illustrated in the
videotape shown in class?
are the features of heteroglossia that are represented in the fono speeches?
- How does the article represent the relationship between formal
oratory and everyday speech?
5 (pp. 114-29, 138-143), & Chapter 6 (pp. 144-48, 151-166)
What are the strategies used in the fono to introduce the agenda of
- Why is it that participants in the fono seem reluctant to go into details
at the beginning of the meeting?
what sense is the agenda of the fono an "abstract" of a story?
- What is the difference between the way English grammar and Samoan grammar
treat Agents (i.e. subjects of transitive clauses)?
- How are agents defined by Duranti?
- How common are fully expressed Agents and what kinds of beings
tend to be in natural discourse?
- How can the study of who
used more Agents during the fono speeches be used to make hypotheses about
how authority is established
in the community and power exercised?
- How does the interaction discussed on pp. 154-6 illustrate
that participants do sometimes interpret the use of a transitive sentence
expressed Agent (marked by the ergative case) as an accusation?
- How does the interaction described on pp. 159-164 illustrate the
use of the same construction for giving credit?
is the "moral flow hypothesis"?