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RUNNING HEAD: A Critique on Linguistic Models, Language, and Literariness

Critique on Linguistic Models, Language,

and Literariness
By Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Twitter: @jonacuso
Post 169

Language and literature are separate systems or phenomena (Carter, 1986), but
there is no reason why linguistics-borrowed models cannot help the reader/learner to
better comprehend literary texts and their literariness. Carter (1986) also argues that
linguistic models provide the best means of sensitization to and acquisition of the
relevant procedures that can help teachers organize their teaching of literature to guide
their pupils to grasp the meaning being conveyed in narratives.
How can literature be enjoyed by pupils? As Brumfit (1986) has posited, the
profound pleasure of reading comes partly from an experience which is simultaneously
individual and communal. And this experience linked to the pleasure of reading can be
achieved, as Carter (1986) proposes, by means of language teaching strategies, which
has been labeled in ELT literature as prediction, cloze procedure, summary, forum, and
guided re-writing. But to spice up any of these strategies, Carter (1986) goes further by
incorporating Labovs linguistic model while working on oral narratives told in Black
English Vernacular, which is indeed a sound idea if Labovs principles are respected.

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

A Critique on A Critique on Linguistic Models, Language, and Literariness

What did Carter do with Labovs model of narrative? Basically, and for teaching
purposes, Carter (1986) simplifies the overall framework for the study of narrative that
Labov used in 1967 and in 1972 (Labov, 2003). What was discovered by Labov (2003)
and his colleagues is that narratives do contain an abstract (story summary), orientation
(setting and actors), complicating action (temporal organization), evaluation (juxtaposition
of real and potential events), validation (credibility, not used by Carter), resolution (the
result of what happened), transformation (subjective events insertion), and termination
(coda). If what Labov documented in his research regarding narratives is the way we tell
or listen to stories, it does make sense to explore this approach to engage students into
reading a literary piece that is connected individual and communal experiences.

An approach like the one proposed by Carter can be quite productive in an


Introductory Course to Narrative or in groups whose English level is around the CEF B1+.
With such level, learners can explore the extent to which readers respond (or are invited
by the author/narrator to respond) to the absence of expected features of orientation
(Carter, 1986), like the ones outlined by Labov (2003). It is the teachers teaching
expertise and literary knowledge that can help them plan accordingly to engage learners
into enjoying literature rather than find it a punishment.

Brumfit, C. (1986). Wider Reading for Better Reading: An alternative approach to


teaching literature. Literature and Language Teaching. Edited by Brumfit & Carter.
Oxford: OUP

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano

A Critique on A Critique on Linguistic Models, Language, and Literariness

Carter, R. (1986). Linguistic Models, Language, and Literariness: Study strategies in the
teaching of literature to foreign students. Literature and Language Teaching. Edited by
Brumfit & Carter. Oxford: OUP
Labov, W. (2003). Uncovering the Event Structure of Narrative. Georgetown University
Round Table on Languages and Linguistics. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University
Press. pp. 63-83

Prof. Jonathan Acua Solano