Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Linguistic Theory and Typology (MALTT)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Cramer


This project seeks a linguistic understanding of oral personal narrative storytelling in Central Appalachia, particularly as it manifests in Eastern Kentucky, with aims of providing insight into the Appalachian storyteller trope (e.g., Montgomery 1998). Structural and discursive elements of oral personal narrative were identified and positioned within their sociocultural context through discourse analysis and narrative studies. Data were collected from story circles, a methodology first implemented in cultural and community organizing spaces in the South and throughout Appalachia (Roadside Theater 2014, Junebug Productions n.d.). The collected stories were transcribed and analyzed through a discourse analysis framework that combines discourse pragmatics, sociocultural linguistics, and narrative analysis (e.g., Grice 1975, Ochs 2004, Bucholtz and Hall 2005, Davies 2008, Falconi and Graber 2019). A post-mortem survey established a baseline for rootedness, or place-based identity (Reed 2016), as well as demographic information, task comfortability, and self- and peer-evaluation. The author posits Central Appalachians approach oral personal narrative structure and performance in a stylistically unorthodox manner. Several potential explanations for the prevalence of the storyteller trope in and outside of the region are offered, limited by their need for further study.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)