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A Comparative Analysis of Romeyka and Turkish Personal Experience Narratives

This is the abstract of a TULCON14 presentation.

Gülsüm Aydin (Boğaziçi University)

This senior thesis is a comparative study on personal experience narratives in Turkish,  a Turkic agglutinative language, and Romeyka or Pontic Greek, an endangered Greek dialect  spoken in northern Turkey. Romeyka has been subject to social oppression and its speakers  have been dropping in numbers since the 1923 population exchange between Turkey and  Greece, although there has been visible improvement on protecting the language in the last  two decades. (Özkan 2013) This study compares and contrasts Turkish and Romeyka  narratives produced by Turkish-Romeyka bilingual speakers in aspects of Turkish influence,  Labovian framework and similarity with Modern Greek narrative with a touch on speakers’  own perception of their identity in Turkey as Romeyka speakers. 

Narrative is considered a very important element for our mental and social life.  (Cortazzi 1994) Due to its wide scope, it is an area studied by a lot of different disciplines.  One of the most groundbreaking studies about it was done by Labov and Waletzky (1966),  proposing a structural model for personal experience narratives. They proposed that personal  experience narratives could be segmented and categorized into parts according to their  function in the narrative. They put the emphasis on the temporal juncture in what  differentiates narrative from other kinds of discourse. Another approach to narratives was on  their linguistic characteristics and what they tell us about the narrative. Schiffrin (1981)  focused on the tense shift from past tense to historical present tense in narrative and its  possible reasons about how this unconscious shift shows us the narrator’s stance toward the  narrative. Schiffrin (1984, 1996) also examined how structures of stories reflect their social  action, or how audiences are also a part of the construction process. A third approach is about  the unconscious organization of oral narrative. In the Greek context, Georgakopoulou (1997)  studied forty Standard Modern Greek oral narratives, and claimed that there was a visible  pattern of number three in the narrations. These kinds of patterns are attributed to “shared  cultural modes of thinking”, and as Johnstone (1990: 99) argues and Georgakopoulou agrees  that number 3 is a key number in European and American cultural norms. 

The organization of the thesis is as follows: Section 1 is an introduction to narrative  and its definitions and modellings with respect to the area it is studied; Section 2 is a historical  description of Romeyka in its geographical context; Section 3 is about participants and data  collection process; Section 4 is a literature review on narrative studies with different  approaches; Section 5 is the results with tables and graphs; Section 6 is the discussion and  analysis of the results and finally Section 7 is the conclusion and summary of the findings. 

Keywords: Romeyka, personal experience narrative, Greek dialects 


Cortazzi, Martin. «Narrative Analysis.» Language Teaching, 1994: 157-170. 

Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. Narrative Performances: A Study of Modern Greek Storytelling. Amsterdam/Philedelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 1997. Johnstone, Barbara. «Discourse Analysis and Narrative.» The Handbook of Discourse Analysis içinde,  yazan Deborah Schiffrin, Deborah Tannen ve Heidi E. Hamilton, 635-649. Massachusetts:  Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2001.

Labov, William, ve Joshua Waletzky. «Narrative Analysis: Oral Versions of Personal Experience.»  American Ethnological Society, 1966: 12-44. 

Özkan, Hakan. «The Pontic Greek spoken by Muslims in the villages of Beşköy in the province of  present-day Trabzon.» Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 2013: 1-21. 

Schiffrin, Deborah. «Tense Variation in Narrative.» Linguistic Society of America, 1981: 45-62. Schiffrin, D. (1984). How a story sayswhat it means and does. Text 4, 313–46.  

Schiffrin, D. (1996). Narrative as selfportrait: Sociolinguistic constructions of identity. Language in  Society 25, 167–203.