Supernatural folk belief expression in a French-Newfoundland community: a study of expressive form, communicative process, and social function in L'Anse-a-Canards

Butler, Gary Reginald (1985) Supernatural folk belief expression in a French-Newfoundland community: a study of expressive form, communicative process, and social function in L'Anse-a-Canards. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study focuses on the supernatural belief tradition of L'Anse-a-Canards, a small French-Newfoundland community located on the Province's isolated Port-au-Port Peninsula. Its aim is to present and examine the contents of this body of folklore, to determine the various oral modes and forms by means of which these contents are expressed, and to dis cover the social and cultural determinants which influence the oral communication of this tradition in actual performance contexts. As such, the study incorporates information from both the textual and the sociocultural levels in an effort to understand the function of oral communication as it concerns this tradition. -- The study distinguishes essentially three oral modes, which are designated as "traditum-intensive," "narrative-intensive," and "discourse-centred." The term "traditum" is employed in this study to refer to the conceptual unit of belief underlying any oral expression concerning the supernatural. Texts which are direct statements of a belief traditum, with little or no explanatory elaboration beyond the expression of that traditum, are "traditum-intensive" in that their primary textual concentration is on the basic unit of belief itself. In contrast, the "narrative-intensive" texts enlarge upon the basic traditum, which is submerged in a body of narrative-contextual elements. -- The narrative mode, which is by far the most frequent of the three, is sub-divided into generic forms defined according to the social relationship existing between the narrator and the narrative protagonist, or "hero." This criterion permits the division of narratives into the following categories: legend, local legend, community experience narrative, family experience narrative, and personal experience narrative. -- Through the quantitative analysis of relative narrative frequencies and the contextual analysis of performance, the significance of this narrative relationship as a determinant of communicative competence is demonstrated. Because of social considerations as to what constitutes appropriate narrative material and behaviour for individual narrators, knowledge of a text does not necessarily lead to its performance in a given context. Performance is determined by the identities of the participants, by the combination of social statuses that each brings to the narrative event, and by the relative social relationships, both within and outside the performance context, which prevail between the participants. The folklorist must therefore remain aware that an informant's failure or expressed refusal to perform a traditional text does not necessarily reflect the informant's unfamiliarity with the text or his inability to perform. -- Finally, the study considers the process of discourse-centred, or conversational, communication of the belief tradition under examination. In particular, it examines how a complementary process of encoding by reduction and decoding by expansion permits the connotative use of shared knowledge of referents to facilitate communication. Such communication, quite unlike narratives, which are primarily denotative, occurs at a level which transcends the uttered text per se.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10238
Item ID: 10238
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 409-419.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1985
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communication in folklore--Newfoundland and Labrador; Folklore--Newfoundland and Labrador--L'Anse-a-Canards; French-Canadians--Newfoundland and Labrador--Folklore; Supernatural.

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