The present study claims that there is a difference between oral and written Persian narratives for reference to activated participants in the role of S2 (i.e. when the subject was the addressee of a speech reported in the previous sentence in a closed conversation). It is based on the method of participant tracking presented in Dooley and Levinsohn (2001), which was applied to Persian by Roberts (2009).
On the basis of participant tracking in two texts, one classified as spoken and one as written, Roberts (2009: 349) concluded that "in the ... spoken text the referential strategy relies more on context for maintaining referential identity and is less specific than in the written text". He found the default encoding for S2 in the "spoken" text to be Ø whereas it was N in the "written" text.
I firstly challenge Roberts’ classification of Māhi siāh-e kučulu as a written text. Even though it is written down, it is basically an oral tale embedded in a larger narrative, which carries over certain traits of oral narration, e.g. the formal opening of a story. Thereafter, I question whether Ø is the default S2 encoding in oral texts. In the second text presented by Roberts and identified as oral by him, there are 16 instances of Ø encoding and 14 instances of encoding with a noun (N). On the basis of 15 new oral narratives reduced to writing, as well as the two oral narratives analysed by Roberts, S2 default encoding proves to be N in oral texts.
The latter part of the presentation is devoted to establishing default encoding of S2 in Persian written texts and the corpus consists of 15 short stories. In this corpus, the default encoding of S2 is Ø.
The encoding of S2 for Persian oral and written narratives proposed here is thus the very opposite of what Roberts suggested, namely Ø for written narratives and N for oral narratives. It must be remembered that the oral stories have been reduced to writing and we can therefore say nothing about participant reference in the actual oral performance of the story. What we can discuss is participant reference in oral literature reduced to writing.
There will also be a brief discussion of marked encoding, i.e. when the S2 is encoded differently from the default.
DOOLEY, Robert A. and LEVINSOHN, Stephen H. (2001), Analyzing discourse: A manual of basic concepts.Dallas: SIL International.
ROBERTS, John R. (in cooperation with Behrooz BARJASTEH DELFOROOZ & Carina JAHANI) (2009), A study of Persian discourse structure. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.