Goats, Trolls & Numbskulls

Goats, Trolls & Numbskulls CD

A Middle School Lecture on
Folklore Genres with Lise Lunge-Larsen

Sample Preparation and ASL Interpretations
by Doug Bowen-Bailey

Goats, Trolls & Numbskulls

License Info

Created by Digiterp Communications

with funding and support from

NE Minnesota Region III Low Incidence Project

and the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning

June 2003

Distributed in Collaboration with the

Region V RSA Project at the COLLEGE OF ST. CATHERINE in partnership with SLICES, LLC.

License Information

The contents of this CD were developed under a grant from the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning and with sup-port from the NE Minnesota Region III Low Incidence Project. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Children, Families, and Learning , and you should not assume endorsement by the Minnesota State Government. Because it is a state funded project, it has an open copyright and maybe transferred to the hard drive of as many computers as wished. It is also al-lowable to burn your own CDs, provided they are not used for making a profit. When duplicating this resource, take care to give credit to those who created and produced this project.


Overview of the Project

This is the original overview from the CD-ROM.

The creation of this project is really a series of fortunate events–which for all you Lemony Snicket fans realize doesn’t happen everyday. My wife, Holly, teaches English in a Middle School setting, and as part of her unit on folklore and mythology, invited a number of people into her classroom as guest speakers. One, Lise Lunge-Larsen, was not able to speak at all of the classes. She consented to being videotaped so that her presentation could be shown to the other classes. I assisted with the filming and was impressed. Both the quality of storytelling and the lecture’s framework helped to tie the storytelling to a larger understanding of how language and discourse works. Based on my experience as an interpreter in elementary settings, this seems to be critical in knowing how to effectively interpret and serve as a language model for students who are developing their own linguistic capacity.

So, since the tape was already made, I requested its use from Ms. Lunge-Larsen for this project and she graciously agreed. I then invited Daniel Durant, a Deaf seventh grader, to serve as an audience for my sample interpretations so that there might be some degree of authenticity in that work (and you might have some sense of who the interpretation was directed to.) It is not as authentic as if it were an actual interpretation in the class, but this format allows for greater technical control–and thus clearer video.

In the process of development, I realized that the actual CD could be created to allow you an opportunity to serve as a substitute interpreter. Meeting the classroom teacher and Deaf student in advance. Having a chance to look through some notes from the classroom interpreter who had done a fine job of preparing, but was just unable to be present the day of the lecture. I tried to create a model, if a bit unrealistic, example of how you might get yourself ready for this lecture. So your assignment, before you look at the sample interpretations I created, is to serve as a substitute in the classroom. Do a little preparation and then try your hand at interpreting. There is more information on that on the next page.

The artwork was a final stroke of good fortune. I had been looking for a good picture that I could use…and was having little luck. At Kindergarten Roundup for my daughter, I flippantly asked a neighbor, Tahira Richardson, if she was good at drawing trolls. She gave me a quizzical look as she told me that she had been up late the night before drawing a troll. After my request, she quickly agreed to add color and let me use it. I am grateful for the unifying touch the artwork brings and Tahira’s willingness to share her art.

Taken as a whole, I hope this project provides an opportunity for practicing interpreting English narratives into ASL–and deepening insights into how understanding different genres of language can be of assistance in those efforts. Additionally, I hope it will be a testament to the impact that stories and storytelling can have–and how crucial it is for interpreters to develop their own skills to ensure that Deaf students have access to that power.

Doug Bowen-Bailey

Your Assignment

Your Assignment…

should you choose to accept it.

This project is produced so that you can act as a substitute interpreter in a middle school classroom. While you will certainly miss out on some of the actual drama of 7th Grade in terms of student interaction, you can try your skills at interpreting an actual lecture given to 7th Graders. This page provides some steps for moving through this assignment effectively.

The video clips below allow you to get some information prior to beginning your subbing job. Thanks for taking this on. It sure is hard to a find a substitute interpreter these days, and so your willingness to take this assignment is greatly appreciated.

1. Meet the classroom teacher.

View the video above to meet Holly Bowen-Bailey, the classroom teacher, and to get a little background on Lise Lunge-Larsen, the guest speaker who is coming into this 7th Grade classroom.

2. Meet the Deaf student.

The video above allows you to meet the student who will be relying on you for the information presented in the lecture. His name is Daniel Durant and he’s awfully glad you were able to come in and sub.

3. Read some of the background information.

The regular interpreter knew this speaker was coming and so had done some research to prepare for the assignment. Due to a child’s illness, he was not able to be here today. But he left his notes for you to read through in the short time you have before the speaker arrives.  See below for preparation materials.

4. Interpret the 6 sections of the Lecture on Folklore Genres.

The lecture is broken into 6 sections; the first an introduction, and then a brief explanation of each genre with an example story. Go through the sections and produce an interpretation for each.

5. Review Sample Interpretations

The lecture is broken into 6 sections; the first an introduction, and then a brief explanation of each genre with an example of a story from that genre.

Preparation Materials

Preparing for the Class (in an Ideal World)

These entries are from my fictional journal as the classroom interpreter–since I have so much time built into my day for preparation. (Remember, this is the Ideal World.)

Doug Bowen-Bailey

Entry #1

I just found out from Holly that there will be a guest speaker, Lise Lunge-Larsen, next week in English class. Nice to have a little preparation time. Holly told me she is an author and storyteller from Norway. I asked Holly to check with Lise for an overview of her talk. Hopefully, I can get a little information that way, but in case I can’t, I’m going to check in the school library to see if I can find one of her books.

Entry #2

Just back from the library. Found one of Lise Lunge-Larsen’s recent books: The Troll with No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls, from Norway. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999.

The jacket notes say that Lise has been telling troll stories to American children after she moved to the U.S. from Norway. She’s also known as the “Troll Lady” so I guess I better think about trolls. In the Author’s note, Lise writes about the importance of story for children’s development. She relates a psychologist’s perception that stories such as the one she tells “bypass the later brain development and go directly to the ancient part of the brain, where they reside right next to fire.” She goes on to write:

This means that love of story is part of what makes us human; it is innate, and it helps us to survive….While ritual and storytelling now may seem unnecessary for the survival of the body, they are necessary for the survival of the soul. (p. 9.)

Seems I better be prepared for some engaging storytelling.

It reminds me of a project I did on involvement in language. I remember reading an article written by Sue Mather and Elizabeth Winston on a case study on creating involvement in ASL storytelling in classroom settings. They studied different ASL reproductions of the story, Too Much Noise and found that the most engaging telling utilized a consistent spatial map. Addi-tionally, it used constructed action (showing the action through classifier use, rather than talking about it) and visual patterns to increase the level of involvement on the part of the audience. These seems like some things I might want to be sure I include in my interpretations.

I wrote a paper about that for the Discourse Analysis class I took. I’ll have to dig that up and review it. (Click here to see the complete paper.)

Entry #3

Had some more time to look through the Lunge-Larsen book. Has a variety of stories in it. Some are new to me, some are familiar. The first story is The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In reading through it, I was reminded of seeing a videotape version of Patrick Graybill telling that story in ASL. Come to think of it, I think that’s the only time I’ve seen a troll described in ASL. I know the videotape is available from the Minnesota Resource Center. I’m going to e-mail them to see if I could get it to watch in time before the presentation.

(The title is: Four for You, Volume 3 from Sign Media, Inc. It’s available for free loan for Minnesota residents. Info at: http://education.state.mn.us/mdeprod/groups/SpecialEd/documents/Publication/001489.pdf. Also available for purchase from Sign Media, Inc. at: http://www.signmedia.com)

I also noticed that she ended almost every story in the book with the Norwegian phrase: “Snipp, snapp, snute Her er eventyret ute!” which means “Snip, snap, snout, This tale’s told out.” I think I might want to be prepared for some interspersing of Norwegian in her stories.

Entry #4

Just got some information from the classroom teacher, Holly. Lise Lunge-Larsen sent this short outline of her lesson. She plans to talk about Folklore Genres, explain a little bit about each genre, and then give an example of each one. After the example, she will try to connect it to more contemporary examples that the students will know. We have been studying genres of literature in this class–like Science Fiction, Mystery, that sort of thing. So I know “genre” means a certain type of story that has particular forms and patterns you can expect. That sounds interesting.The genres she is going to focus on are: cumulative; explanatory; talking animals; numbskull/noodlehead; and fairy tales. Hmm, sounds interesting. I wonder if the talking animals example will be The Billy Goats Gruff. That would be nice.

Entry #5

I just got a call that my daughter has a fever of 104 degrees. Looks like I won’t be here tomorrow when Lise Lunge-Larsen comes. Glad I kept these notes for my preparing so that I can pass them on to the sub. So, since you’re reading them now, I wish you luck. Seems like it will be a fun class.

Involvement in ASL – More Prep Material

Roadrunner, Coyote, and Lightbulbs

Building Involvement in ASL Texts

by Doug Bowen-Bailey

Author’s Note | Abstract | Introduction | Importance of Involvement | Involvement in ASL Narrative | Involvement & Interpreter Role | Conclusion | References


This paper was written for a Discourse Analysis class through the Teaching ASL and Teaching Interpreting Certificate program at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It is part of the Project TIEM.online program and more information can be found about it at: http://www.colorado.edu/slhs/tiem.online. The paper is offered not as a definitive paper on the subject, but a resource for preparation.


Interpreters working with young deaf children often find themselves challenged by the fact that these students find little reason to pay attention to the interpreting process, or more generally, to be engaged in communication. This study is an analysis of how involvement can be built into ASL texts. It looks at the use of constructed action and changes in reference scale within a specific ASL narrative, as well as the use of mechanical metaphors of Deaf adults interacting with Deaf children. These examples may provide some strategies for interpreters to more effectively engage deaf students in communication and the interpreting process, and thereby start them down the developmental path to independence. Back to Top


“What do you do when the student won’t look at you?”

In my experience mentoring educational interpreters, (and as an educational interpreter myself), it is a question that I have heard and asked frequently. Deaf and hard of hearing students, who have an interpreter specified as part of their IEP, don’t necessarily understand how to work effectively with an interpreter, or in what ways an interpreter can be a key in their own communication and education. Particularly as young children, they may have limited experience with successful communication, and thus may not have a basis for feeling like there is a reason to pay attention to someone who is attempting to communicate with them, even if the form used may now be more accessible to them.

“So, what do you do…?”

This paper is an attempt to answer that question by looking at strategies for engaging and involving young deaf children in communication. In particular, I will look at the use of ASL narrative – and constructed action within narrative in particular – as a tool for making texts more interesting and for introducing children to the possibilities of language. In addition, I will offer some other strategies from my experience which have proven successful in both my work as an interpreter and as a mentor.

(I want to note here that I am intentionally using the term “deaf” with a lower case “d” to denote that these are children who are not culturally Deaf, signified with a “D.” This lack of acculturation is important because part of what it signifies is a lack of exposure to the involvement strategies which will be discussed in this paper—and thus a lack of engagement with the process of communication and the development of language.)

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Deborah Tannen (1989) articulates involvement as “an internal, even emotional connection individuals feel which binds them to other people as well as places, things, activities, ideas, memories, and words.” In addition, she sees it not “as a given, but an achievement in conversational interaction.” (p.12.) In other words, involvement is related to the level of engagement someone has in the process of communication —recognizing that it is required of both listener and speaker in a dialogic situation. Listeners, just as much as speakers, need to be involved and engaged for communication to be successful.

As part of the language acquisition process, children begin to learn and recognize strategies for being involved and involving others in conversation. . Claire Ramsey (2001) references the work of Vygotsky, a psychologist, who established a framework recognizing that “higher cognitive functions, like language and thinking, have social origins. Based on this, he made the strong claim that learning drives development and that we can only learn through our access to interactions with others.” Vygotzky suggests that learning between a teacher and learner takes place in what he calls a “Zone of Proximal Development,” (ZPD) a place where joint attention is established and maintained.

The problem for deaf children, of course, is that they do not necessarily have access to these interactions in a way that allows them to utilize their innate capabilities. Unless they have Deaf parents, or ones who learn to effectively communicate in a visual mode, to use Vygotzky’s term, deaf children do not learn how to participate in this ZPD. While it is outside the bounds of this paper to fully explore the challenges for deaf children’s language development, my point to make is this: many deaf children enter schools with language delays; but not only in a way that prevents them from communicating, but that impedes their understanding of how and why to be involved in communication.

For many interpreters working in educational settings, the reality of this is daily self-evident. I have heard stories of, and personally experienced, many situations where an interpreter works without the student actually watching. While there could be many factors outside the control of the interpreter, there are some strategies which increase the level of involvement in communication—and thus can be utilized to engage students in the communication process.

Tannen (1989) suggests two categories of involvement strategies: one based on the use of sound and one based on meaning. The category based on sound includes: rhythm, patterns based on repetition and variation; and figures of speech. Strategies which use meaning include: indirectness ; ellipsis; tropes (metaphor, irony, proverbs); dialogue; imagery and detail; and narrative.

Her list is obviously based on research in spoken conversation, but linguistic research has shown that these strategies are utilized in ASL. Tannen’s first category is not based on sound in ASL, but on the prosodic nature of the language and the patterning of handshapes and movements. In the second category, Metzger (1995) analyzed more specifically the use of dialogue and narrative. In her work, she concluded that within narrative, ASL uses constructed action (that is the recreation of an event through classifiers and role-playing) to build narrative. Moreover, considering that ASL uses the same features to report dialogue, she concludes that constructed dialogue actually is a sub-set of constructed action. From Metzger’s analysis, it is clear that constructed action is worthy of noting as an involvement strategy.

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Spatial Mapping: A Study in Scale

Winston and Mather (1998), in their study of involvement in ASL storytelling, focused on the use of a spatial map as a means for creating involvement. In their analysis of an ASL re-telling of an English story, Too Much Noise, they found that the presence of a spatial map – evidenced through the use of constructed action and visual patterns – helped to create both coherence and involvement in the text. For the purposes of this paper, I will look at the spatial map within another ASL narrative, “The Roadrunner Wins Again,” by Ella Mae Lentz, (1990) and analyze what features build involvement and engagement.

My reason for choosing this text is an extremely practical one. For the past several years, I have been using Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons as texts for interpreters to practice their skills in creating constructed action. Before I ask them to create scenes from an actual cartoon, I show them Ella Mae Lentz’ creation as a model of how it can be done. Until this class, I had not done an extensive analysis of this text, nor did I have the theoretical framework for recognizing that as a narrative, it served to create involvement on the part of the audience through various techniques. So, my analysis comes out of the hope that I can more effectively use this text in the future—in working with interpreters on ASL narrative skills and in working with them on the importance of creating involvement.

As a preface, I’ll offer a short synopsis of the story within the framework of Labov’s narrative structure. (This structure is outlined in a later section.)

Abstract:The roadrunner and coyote are introduced, invoking the frame of the cartoon series.
Orientation: The coyote then puts together a motor scooter that is powered by a propeller and then sets out after the roadrunner.
Complicating Action: He catches up once, and then is left in the dust as the roadrunner speeds away. True to his character, the coyote continues the chase—pushing the scooter to its limits. Just as the coyote is about to catch the roadrunner, they come to a cliff. The roadrunner takes a sharp turn left, and the coyote heads straight off the cliff, suspended in mid-air for a moment as the realization hits him, and then the scooter and coyote plummet to a canyon shaking impact.
Evaluation: The coyote pulls himself out of the ground and snaps his fingers in disgust.
Coda: The frame of the cartoon returns with the signature sign-off of Warner Brothers: “That’s all folks!”

Features of the Map

The text is a brief one, lasting under two minutes. Within that time frame, however, Lentz creates a richly textured spatial map. To begin with, I will delineate the nature of this map, and how she places the characters within it.

The story contains the perspective of narrator as well as the two characters: the roadrunner and the coyote. In establishing these perspectives, Lentz uses consistent spatial mapping that is cued by the use of physical space and eye gaze. The roadrunner is mapped on the right side of her signing space with the coyote on the left. Narration generally happens in the same space as the coyote, but with an eye gaze that is directed toward the audience. Another factor in this mapping is the change in stance of her left leg. As both narrator and coyote, Lentz stands with with her feet spread comfortably apart. When she shifts into the role of the Roadrunner, her right foot remains stationary, but her left leg closes the gap between her legs. This both adds to the characterization of the Roadrunner as a thin bird, and clearly establishes the spatial framework of where the Roadrunner is located.

The text itself is primarily composed of constructed action—with short connecting segments of narration. Within the different aspects of constructed action, my focus will be on the shifting of reference scale. As will be shown, a signer has the option in reporting action of choosing to use what has been termed “role-playing” or “characterization.” This is the cinematographic equivalent of a close-up. Or a signer can choose to show action in a smaller scale—again in movie terms, a wide-angle shot. Schick (1990), in her work on classifier predicates, labeled these different scales as, “Real-World” and “Model” to identify these different types of space. Other linguists have chosen different labels to mark these changes in scale. Lidell (1995) uses “token space” instead of “model”, and divides the category of “Real-world” into “real” and “surrogate,” depending on whether or not the actual person or object talked about is present. Emmory and Falgier (1999) propose the use of the terms “Diagrammatic” and “Viewer” space to show these scales in the context of signers describing a map of a town and a convention center. Since my focus will be on the reference scales used, I will use Schick’s terminology: real-world and model scale, since it is sufficient for the purposes of my analysis.

Within the parameters of her spatial map, Lentz uses a combination of Real-world (RW) and Model (M) scales. In terms of distribution, Lentz uses Real-World scale for 78 seconds; Model scale for 20 seconds, a combination of RW and M for 9 seconds. There are four transtions into RW and M, each initiated from and returning to RW scale. There are 12 transitions into Model scale. The text begins in RW scale and continues this way for the first 26 seconds (Time code 00:04 – 00:32) At this point, she maintains the character of the coyote in RW scale with her body and left hand, but uses her right hand in M scale to show the coyote moving forward. This mixing of scales occurs intermittently throughout the narrative. Primarily, she uses her right hand in M scale to show the motion of the Roadrunner, and maintains the RW scale body posture of the coyote. However, in one instance, (Time code 1:03) her right hand and body maintain the RW scale of the Roadrunner running, and her left hand uses M scale to show the coyote on his motor scooter catching up.

Scale Total Time Number of Instances
Real-World 78 seconds 17
Model 20 seconds 12
Real-World and Model 9 seconds 4

Scale Shifts and Narrative Structure

The distribution of these transitions between scales has a significant discourse function and understanding narrative structure. Labov (cited in Wilson, 1996) suggests that a fully-formed narrative may consist of these sections, in order:

  1. Abstract: A sentence at the beginning that summarizes the story
  2. Orientation: Clauses near the beginning which provide a setting.
  3. Complicating Action: The events of the narrative
  4. Evaluation: The point of the story
  5. Coda: The narrative is brought back to present time.

In terms of narrative structure, the absence or presence of shifts in scale can serve as markers for sections of this narrative: The Abstract is the first 11 seconds which serve to introduce the characters in RW scale. Lentz uses freeze frames of each character, providing a fingerspelled caption, just as each Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon begins with a freeze frame and some absurd scientific name. The abstract thus serves to invoke a cartoon framework. The Orientation happens in the next 17 seconds of the narrative in RW scale provides close-up information of the coyote. This, in many respects, serves to provide character development and clearly establish the context of the story. The shift in scale at 00:32 serves both to introduce the character of the Roadrunner and to mark the stage of Complicating Action in the narrative. Over the course of the next 1:06, there are 32 shifts in scale—which provide tremendous texture to this portion of the spatial map and creates suspense and involvement. The final 13 seconds of the narrative occur completely in RW scale. Time code 01:38-01:45 serve as evaluation and provide a close-up of the coyote—showing his emotional reaction to the events of the story. The final 5 seconds serve as Coda by returning to the framework of the cartoon—with Warner Brothers’ signature sign-off, “T-H-A-T-S A-L-L F-O-L-K-S.”

Implications for Involvement

Focusing on the three middle segments of Labov’s narrative structure, I want to take a look at what the use of different reference scales means for involvement in the story.

In the Orientation, the use of the RW scale provides close-up attention to the coyote. This perspective, combined with effective facial characterization, provide the audience with insight into the character of the coyote within a short amount of time. Within this time frame, it is important to note that Lentz does not purely stay in character role, as if this were purely mime or a play. Rather her telling of the coyote’s construction of the motor scooter is punctuated with shifts into the narrator role. Each time a new object is removed from the box (body, propellor, handlebars, seat) she briefly assumes the role of narrator with eye gaze that is directed either to the audience or at the object. These referential shifts provide the texture within a section that does not have a shift in scale. These shifts, combined with effective facial expression, serve to provide an involving example of character development.

Once Complicating Action begins, shifts in scale happen, on average, once every three seconds. These shifts occur both within character—Time Code 00:41-43 close-up of the Roadrunner running (RW scale) and then a classifier construction of the Roadrunner stopping (M scale) followed by close-up of Roadrunner looking at Coyote. As well, the shifts can be between characters – for example, 00:58-01:02, which is a RW scale Coyote riding the scooter, then M scale classifier construction of Roadrunner, then RW scale Coyote on the scooter again. In terms of involvement, these shifts in scale create the effect of a tremendously engaging visual narrative.

In terms of Evaluation, Labov places this section near the end of the narrative. Its purpose is really to convince the audience that there is a point to the story. Changing back to RW scale allows the audience to focus on the emotional impact of the events on the coyote. Wilson (1996), in her study of ASL narrative structure, noted that facial expression can provide evaluative force throughout a narrative. Lentz, through her use of RW scale across the narrative, is able to show what the emotions and motivation of the characters without using lexical selections. For example, the facial characterization of Coyote licking his lips at 00:44 shows that he wants to eat the Roadrunner, without signing WANT EAT. This presence of facial expression and characterization is crucial to efficiently providing evaluative clues, and thereby increasing audience involvement.

Lessons for Interpreters

From my time in an Interpreter Training Program at St. Paul Technical College, I remember a poster that hung on the door of one of our classrooms. It was the picture of a person with a paper bag over their head. Written on the bottom of the poster were words to the effect of : Don’t be an interpreter like this! It was a daily reminder of the importance of facial expression—both for purposes of grammar and for not being too boring too watch. In other words, the poster expressed that our faces were tools for creating involvement. Given my analysis of Ella Mae Lentz’s story, The Roadrunner Wins Again, interpreters also need to pay attention to shifts in reference scale. Within narratives, it is clear that shifting back and forth from Real-World to Model scale creates suspense and involvement in the midst of a story.

While it is outside the scope of my research, I think it would be interesting to compare the use of reference shifts in interpreted narrative and compare it to how Deaf people use these shifts. While my study is limited to only one example of an extremely gifted storyteller, my observation from experience suggests to me that interpreters use far less frequent shifts in scale than do Deaf people. Furthermore, within the same scale, I would suggest that interpreters provide less texture through shifting perspectives between different characters and the narrator.

In this further research, it would also important to analyze how the content of the story influences the use of shifts in reference scale. “The Roadrunner Wins Again” focuses on the rapid movement of two characters. This type of content may be more conducive to the shifting between reference scales. Other narratives that focus more on character development, rather than action, may make use of a greater amount of Real-World scale. While not part of a research study, my observations have led me to believe that within narratives which take place mainly in Real-World scale, there still are significant uses of shifts in perspective—between that of characters and that of the narrator.

So, for interpreters who are asking the question: “What do I do if the deaf student won’t look at me?” one answer is to start developing the skill of shifting between perspectives and transitioning between Real-World and Model scales in narrative. The use of these shifts can dramatically increase the level of involvement within a story, and perhaps lead to more engagement on the part of the student.

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Developing ASL narrative skills is certainly one answer for an interpreter being more effective in engaging deaf children in communication. Particularly for interpreters working in elementary settings, consideration must be given to the context in which language occurs and the role that members of the educational team each need to play in creating involvement skills and to make a meaningful Zone of Proximal Development that Vygotzky suggests is necessary for student growth and development.

One important thing to note: the story under study in this paper was an original creation, and not an interpretation. Furthermore, it is one solely told in American Sign Language. Contrast this to the narrative structure that most deaf children see in classrooms with interpreters. There, the interpreted narrative is broken into sections by a picture being shown to the class. At times, the picture is shown at the same time as the interpretation is provided—thus competing with the language input. For children who are not fully engaged with language, it’s been my experience that full attention is often given to the picture, rather than dividing attention between picture and language.

Mather and Winston (1998) make the point that, of the teachers involved in their study, the only one who effectively created an ASL interpretation with a spatial map and a high level of involvement, was the one who read the entire book first, and then retold it in ASL without the English text. In order to build involvement with a student, interpreters may need to find an avenue for telling entire stories directly to students—rather than interpreting from an English text. A decision to create this kind of language-rich situation needs to happen within the context of the educational team. It may be there is another member of that team who is more appropriate to provide such language exposure, but consideration should be given to ways that the classroom environment can be changed to create more involvement.

Child-Directed Speech

Interpreters also need to recognize the different ways adults use language in talking with young children. Brenda Schick (2001) stresses the role of prosody—pacing and intonation—in what researchers call Child-Directed Speech. This type of speech plays a significant role in children’s language development.

While not part of a systematic study, I have observed a feature in Deaf adults communication with children which serves as very successful involvement strategy. For lack of a better term, I will call it “mechanical metaphor,” meaning that the human body is shown as some type of machine. The first example I saw was, for the concept of “sudden understanding,” a Deaf man with one hand pulled an imaginary string under his chin and with his other hand signed light above his head—carrying out the visual metaphor of the light bulb going on. At the end of the interaction, this same man said GOOD-BYE as if there was a string attached to his left hand and that the pulling of his right hand controlled the motion of his left. Another Deaf adult, in conversation with a student about their participation in the classroom, asked if they needed to use a car jack to raise their hand—produced by making the ratcheting motion with his right hand and raising his left hand in stages in coordination with his ratcheting.

These “mechanical metaphors” provided a high level of involvement in conveying a concept. Based on this observation, I began incorporating these and other mechanical metaphors in my work with young children. The string-controlled GOOD-BYE led to a similar O-K where pulling the string changed the O to K. Initially, I pulled the string, but through its engagement of the student, this technique led to the student pulling the string and then incorporating this metaphor in their own language use. As the student became more involved with this language play, strings became jammed, had to be cut, and sewn back on. All of this language involvement began in situations of direct communication with students. However, it translated to an increased level of involvement of the student in interpreting situations—and I found that I could occasionally include such “mechanical metaphors” into my interpretations to provide a higher level of involvement when necessary and appropriate. Click here for examples of mechanical metaphors.

Involvement and Independence

Tannen (1986) claims that the twin desires of communication are to show our involvement and to maintain our independence. In many respects, these are two competing goals, or perhaps, two ends of a continuum that communicators move back and forth between. The relationship between these two goals is vital to consider in the context of educational decisions for deaf students. In an article in the RID Views,(Bowen-Bailey, 2001) I argued that using the framework of fostering student independence is an effective way to explain our roles as interpreters in classrooms. While I still believe that to be the case, I think this focus on independence necessitates an understanding of involvement—and how involvement in language is necessary for young children to gain the skills to become independent. Important in this is recognizing a distinction between being involved and dependent; that is, involvement strategies should lead to patterns of growth and development, rather than a pattern in the student of relying on the interpreter or other specific individuals to do the work for them. With caution about developing dependence, a focus on involvement is necessary for many deaf students to develop the language skills necessary for being able to move back and forth on the continuum of involvement and independence.

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Throughout the course of this paper, I have attempted to provide examples of involvement strategies that interpreters can implement in their work to more effectively engage deaf students in language use and communication. Within an ASL narrative, the use of shifts in reference scales serve to create a high level of involvement and help to create narrative structure. Developing these competencies can enable interpreters to include a degree of involvement in their interpretations that will more effectively match the source texts that they are called upon to interpret.

Beyond that, other strategies, such as creating opportunities for direct ASL storytelling and the use of “mechanical metaphors” can help meet the needs of deaf students who are both learning language and learning how to be involved in language. In my work as an interpreter, and as a mentor of other educational interpreters, I have found that these techniques of involvement can be effective tools toward setting deaf students on the educational path to independence.

“What do you do if the student won’t look at you?”

The answers to that question are complex and certainly not fully answered by this paper. I do hope, however, that I have offered a few ideas to put in an “interpreter’s bag of tricks” that can lead to that question being answered more effectively, and subsequently asked less frequently.

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Bowen-Bailey, D. April 2001. A Declaration of Independence. In Views. Silver Spring, MD: Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.

Emmorey, K. & Falgier, B. 1999. Talking about Space with Space: Describing Environments in ASL. In Storytelling and Narrative in Sign Languages, E.A. Winston, Ed. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Lentz, E. 1980. The Roadrunner Wins Again. In Tales from the Green Book. (Videotape). Sign Media, Inc.

Liddell, S. 1995. Real, surrogate, and token space: Grammatical consequences in ASL. In Language, gesture, and space, ed. K.Emmorey and J. Reilly, 19-41. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Mather, S. & Winston, E. 1998. Spatial Mapping and Involvement. In Pinky Extension and Eye Gaze: Language Use in Deaf Communities, C. Lucas, Ed. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Metzger, M. 1995. Constructed Dialogue and Constructed Action in American Sign Language. In Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, Vol. 1. C. Lucas, Ed. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Ramsey, C. 2001. Beneath the Surface: Theoretical Frameworks Shed Light on Educational Interpreting. In Odyssey: New Directions in Deaf Education. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.

Schick, B. 2001. Interpreting for Children: How it’s Different. In Odyssey: New Directions in Deaf Education. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.

Schick, B. S. 1990. Classifier Predicates in American Sign Language. In International Journal of Sign Linguistics, 1(1), (pp. 32-36).

Tannen, D. 1986. That’s Not What I Meant! How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships. New York: Ballantine Books.

Tannen, D. 1989. Invovlement in Discourse. In Talking Voices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, J. 1996. The Tobacco Story: Narrative Structure in an American Sign Language Story. In Multicultural Aspects of Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, C. Lucas, Ed. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
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English Lecture with Lise Lunge-Larsen

The following video are sections of a lecture delivered in an actual middle school classroom. Some student interaction may be inaudible. See transcripts or captions for some support in filling in the gaps.


Lise Lunge-Larsen introduces herself and the topic of folklore. (4:16)

Cumulative Genre

Lise explains about this genre designed for young children and tells the story of “The Fat Cat.” (7:06)

Explanatory Genre

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “How the Bear Got His Tail.”(3:46)

Talking Animals

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” (5:28) s

Numbskull Genre

Lise explains about this genre, also known as Noodlehead stories, and tells the story of “The Three Sillies.” (6:23)

Fairy Tale

Lise explains about this genre tells the story of “The Ashlad.” (11:06)

Sample Interpretations

Sample Interpretations by Doug Bowen-Bailey

The following video are interpretations done from the video on the previous page. Daniel Durant, who you met in your preparation, served as my audience. See my notes for reflection on the process–and how it might have been different if I were actually interpreting in the classroom or if I had it to do over.


Lise Lunge-Larsen introduces herself and the topic of folklore. (4:16)

Interpreter Notes

The interpretation was produced from the same video file on this CD. One thing that I found challenging in the introduction was trying to introduce a person who wasn’t physically present. In general, during introductions, I try to allow the Deaf person to have plenty of opportunity, whether by pauses in the interpretation or by my location, to get a visual impression of the speaker. Not sure I accomplished that.

One thing I wish I would have done differently was the interpretation of which words English borrowed from the Vikings. In hindsight, I wish I would have omitted a few of the examples, so I could have made the examples that were used clearer. I did attempt to give some kind of construct showing that folklore is a broad topic with many subsets in it. I chose to use a spatial representation similar to a flow chart. You all can decide how effective you think that was.

Cumulative Genre

Lise explains about this genre designed for young children and tells the story of “The Fat Cat.” (7:06)

Interpreter Notes

Lise uses a clear structure in her talk. She begins with explaining about a genre, and then goes into the story. After the story, she has a varying amount of commentary before moving on into the next genre. In my own interpretations, I wish that I would have had more distinct break between her more expository information and her storytelling. In hind sight, I wish I would have given the break a longer pause.

A note on interpreting the Norwegian: Lise used a fair amount of Norwegian in the story, both with the ending (Snipp, snapp, snute…) and in reference to two characters in the story: Skalinkulot and Skahantentot. For those two characters, I chose to just represent them with a physical description. Given time constraints, and the emphasis on reptition, I decided that placing more emphasis on those names would be a distraction to the main point of the story.

Explanatory Genre

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “How the Bear Got His Tail.”(3:46)

Interpreter Notes

On interpreting for a expressive speaker: Lise uses an incredible amount of expression, both vocal and facial, in her storytelling. In my interpretations of the video file, I think I gave more of an animated interpretation than I actually would have done in the situation. Given that her performance was part “theater,” I may have made more choices to reference her actions rather than reproduce them as a part of my interpretation. For instance, when she is squatting over the hole in the ice, I might draw the Deaf student’s attention to that, and then go on with my interpretation. I find that sometimes too much expressiveness in an interpretation can sometimes be seen as “competing” with the speaker. While it is important to have engaging features in an interpretation, we must walk the fine line of not having the event become all about the interpreter, rather than about the speaker.

Talking Animals

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” (5:28

Interpreter Notes

In reviewing the interpretation, I wish that I had spent more time in the beginning setting up the physical environment of the story. First setting up the mountains, stream, and bridge, and then introducing the troll. I did that somewhat, but I think it could have been more effective.

I did, however, make use of much of the visual imagery of Patrick Graybill in his telling of this story in the videotape I mentioned in my preparation journal. Again, I would suggest that as an excellent resource.

Numbskull Genre

Lise explains about this genre, also known as Noodlehead stories, and tells the story of “The Three Sillies.” (6:23)

Interpreter Notes

This is a rather challenging story as there is the whole absurdity element, which sometimes can be difficult to translate. As well, there is a challenging description of trying to boost the cow onto the sod roof, and then having the man jerked up into the chimney. What was affirming in my work was Daniel, in the audience, found the whole scene of the man jumping into his pants to be very humorous. Getting feedback like that is always an important sign for me to know that my work is actually accomplishing its goal of creating a dynamic equivalent.

Another challenge was her application of the the genre in looking at sitcoms on television. Given that it was driven by audience interaction and it required a lot of fingerspelling of specific names, I don’t think that interaction was as engaging as it would have been live. I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, but just interesting to note the challenge of that section–and others like it in the other genres.

Fairy Tale

Lise explains about this genre and tells the story of “The Ashlad.” (11:06)

Interpreter Notes

In the “Ashlad” story, effectively characterizing the three sons and the troll seemed to me to be a critical part of the interpretation. Given how effectively Lise used her voice to show the difference between the troll and the Ashlad, I tried to effectively show that with my face and body positioning. Again, you be the judge of how effective it was. It seemed to be well received by Daniel.

One interesting challenge was interpreting how Ashlad tricked the Troll related to getting water from the well. How to show on the one hand that the bucket was huge and heavy, but then have the Ashlad describe it as a “thimble.” English’s use of metaphor shows the irony of it very efficiently. I found it to be more challenging to describe the trick in visual language.


Introduction | Cumulative | Explanatory | Talking Animals | Numbskulls | Fairy Tales


So, um, a lot of you probably know I?m a storyteller, and now actually, also, well actually, I have my degree in applied linguistics. But I did my degree, advanced degree in using storytelling to teach English to speakers of other languages. And I have studied folklore at the University of Oslo and I studied it also at the University of Minnesota. So this is some- thing I know a lot about. It?s kind of almost hard for me to narrow it down, something that you could get a PhD in if you want to, to get you interested and thinking about it for one hour.

When I say the word folklore, folk tales, what are some of the things that you?ve been learning about that you know already? There are legends … sure there are legends. That?s a kind of folklore.

Folklore is like a big subject matter, like when you have English, it?s com- posed of a lot of different things. (Talking to Student) You … are you just scratching your neck? I guess that?s allowed. Anything else? That?s all you know? Aren?t you an advanced English class? All you know is that there are legends? There?s got to be more. Come on.

There?s myths too. Thank you very much. Legends, myths…fables. What? And there are folk tales, which is you know, so…Legends, myths, fables, folk tales. There?s actually … if you were to get a PhD you get to study fun things like how rumors are spread, or how gossip starts, or graffiti, or you get to study folk life, how people celebrate various kinds of customs, you know, and how that gets passed on and so on and so forth. It?s really a lot of stuff. And um, the thing that I?ve always focused in on is folk tales.

Fables, you know, are short stories with animals in them. They?re differ- ent from other kinds of stories because they always, the animal isn?t just an animal. It stands for something. So a lion stands for royalty or kingliness and a sheep stands for meekness, and a fox stands for cleverness, and everything stands for something. And they always have a moral at the end.

So even though they?re very short, little kids never get them. They?re not really very good for little kids, you know. Even though a lot of people think so because they?re short. What?s the difference between a myth and a folktale?

Student: A myth, like, explains how something happens…. a long, long time ago.

Sometimes, but not always. There?s one big difference. Got to have that on the clear. Myths, and I didn?t get to, I was going to, I brought some myths that I?m working on. But myths always have gods in them. They can seem a lot like these other stories but they always, and they do often explain how things got to be, but they have gods. So Zeus or you know, Hermes, or you know, Hercules, or any one of those guys, and if you?re in the Norse myths, I know you learned about Odin, the head of the gods. The day Wednesday day comes from Odin because Odin?s old name was Wodin, so Wednesday is Wodin?s Day. Thursday is Thor?s Day. So that?s named after Thor, the thunder god, that?s my next manuscript I?m working on, stories of Thor the thunder god, very good stories. Oh, the best! Thursday. and Friday is named after another god, the chief of the lesser god named Fre, so it?s Fre?s Day. Friday, it became in time.

All the other words we got from the Vikings were things like murder, blood, axe, slaughter, pillage, plunder, all those things, ?cause you know what those guys are like. But actually all those words that are “g-g-g-” sound like that, slaughter, kill, those are all Viking words. Isn?t that terrible?

So that?s the big difference between myths and folk tales. Is they?re very similar but these have gods. What about a legend? That?s where you were at. It was supposed to have happened a long time ago. And it explains how something got to be the way it was. It?s supposed to be true.  Back to Top

Cumulative Genre

So what I wanted to talk to you about today, was, uh, I?m an expert, of course, in Norwegian and Scandinavian folklore because I?m a native of Norway. I?m still not a U.S. citizen. So that?s my area of expertise. And I wanted to tell you something about the types of the folk tales and you might have learned about some of them. And I?ll give you some examples.

So folk tales, just like folklore can be broken down, folk tales can be broken down in different types. And in the days before television, before radio, before going to the movies, or plays or theater, or what you guys do for entertainment, people sat around telling stories. So they were in a way the movies or the television, before books, and before all of those things were invented. All right?

So a lot of people, especially adults, for some reason think that all folk tales are meant for little kids. And that?s – can I use the word baloney? – That?s a bunch of baloney. Absolutely not true. Folk tales were meant for everybody, kind of the way television is meant for everybody, but just as in the case is for television, there were certain types of stories that you would tell just when all the little kids were also awake, you know, like after school. Right? The shows that are on after school are very different from the shows that are on at say 9 or 10 o?clock at night. You all agree? Yeah. It?s exactly the same with folk tales. So there?s some … you know you may think that this belongs to the ancient world, but actually, it?s not that different.

So the tales that were told when the little kids were still awake were first of all a kind of story which we?ll call a cumulative. And a lot of you know those stories. Have you heard a story about, um, the pancake, or “The House That Jack Built”? What happens is you have the addition of one detail after another so it doesn?t have as much of a story line, but the fun of it is kind of the addition of details.

A story that I often tell for very little kids, and oh they just love it because you know how little kids always say I?m going to eat you up, they always like stuff that has to do with food, is a story called the Fat Cat. I would normally only tell this for, this is the kind of television, or kind of story, that?s really good for 2 to 5 or 2 to 6 years of age. And I?ll just sort of very briefly tell you parts of that story so you can get an idea of it. It?s a story I love to tell called the Fat Cat, so that you have a clear picture in your head.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was an old woman who had a cat. Well, one day, she made herself a nice big pot of gruel. As she was about to sit down to eat the gruel, she realized, oh, she didn?t have any cream or sugar. It was going to taste terrible! So she said to her cat, “I?m going to run over to the neighbors and get some cream and sugar. You stay here and don?t get close to the gruel.” So she left.

As soon as she was out the door, the cat walked up to the gruel, (sniff sound) sniffed it and thought “Ooh, that smells so good” (sniff) and he thought “Oh, she?ll never be able to tell!” so he went (slurp sound) and he took a little lick … “So tasty!” So he bent down and (slurp) took another and (slurp-lick-slurp-slurp) … before he knew it, he had eaten up all the gruel.

He was still hungry. So he ate the pot as well. Well, just then the old woman walked in the door. And she looked at her cat and said “(gasp) My little cat, you are very fat! What have you been eating?”

“And the cat said, I ate the gruel and the pot. And now I?m going to eat you!” (Munch-gulp sounds) If you were a little kid you?d be squealing by now. “Ahhh!” You?ve got to get into it! But he was still hungry, so he walked out of the house, down the road, until he met Skalinkulot. And Skalinkulot said “My little cat, you are very fat. What have you been eat- ing?”

And the cat said, “I ate the gruel, and the pot, and the old woman too, and now I?m going to eat you!” (Growl-munch-gulp eat sounds) And he ate Skalinkulot. But he was still hungry. So he walked on down the road, and down the road, until he met Skahotentot.

And Skahotentot looked at this fat cat and said “My little cat, you are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said…if you were little, you?d go, “I ate the gruel, and the pot and the old woman too, and Skahotentot and now I?m going to eat you too!” (um yum yum, munch crunch) and he ate up the Skahotentot. But can you believe it he was still hungry?

So he waddled on down the road, and down the road he went until he met five birds in a flock. And the five birds said, “My little cat you are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said, … and you know the drill. “I ate the gruel and the pot and the old woman too. Skalinkulot, Skahotentot and now I?m going to eat you!” And he ate the five birds in the flock.

So he keeps on going, next he meets seven girls dancing, the old lady with the pink parasol, the parson with the crooked staff. Each time the thing gets longer and longer and longer. Finally he meets a woodcutter. And the woodcutter is a smart little guy. “You are so fat, what have you been eating?” And the cat said “I ate the gruel and the pot and the old woman too, Skalinkulot, Skahotentot, five birds in a flock, seven girls dancing, the old woman with a pink parasol, the parson with a crooked staff, and now I?m going to eat you!”

“Oh, no you are not!” said the woodcutter. And he got out his axe and he sliced a great big hole in the cat?s tummy and out jumped the parson with the crooked staff, the old woman with the pink parasol, the seven girls dancing, five birds in a flock, Skahotentot, Skalinkulot, the woman jumped out and grabbed her pot and ran home as fast as she could go.

So the woodcutter took the cat, stitched up its stomach and put a great big Band-Aid on it and brought him home to live. And that night the cat had such a bad stomach ache that he promised himself he would never eat that much again ever. And he never did. And don?t you do that either.

Oh, Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! Which is Norwegian and means “Snip, snap, snout, this tale is told out.” Which you?re going to have to learn.

Snipp (Class repeats) Snapp (Class repeats) Snute (Class repeats) Her (Class repeats) Er (Class Repeats) eventyret (Class repeats) ute. (Class repeats.)

When your parents say to you “What did you learn in school today, dear?” You can say “I learned Norwegian.”

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Explanatory Genre

Another kind of story that?s very popular with both younger and older kids and often borders on the area of myth is a story that?s called explanatory story. And they?re called explanatory because they explain how something gets to be the way they are. You?ve heard a lot of native American stories, maybe, that explains different natural phenomena, why trees, why birch bark has black spots on it, or why the sun and the moon live in the sky.

I told a story that I really like to the other class that is the story of how Bear got a stubby tail. That?s a classic Norwegian story. And what?s cool about it is you can find a very similar version of it in Native American collec- tions of stories, which shows you how universal some of these stories are. Do a lot of you know that story, about Bear? I?ll tell it. It?s very short.

Once upon a time, one year, they got this really early winter. It came way earlier than any animals expected. And it was really rough on Bear be- cause he had not planned ahead of time, he had not eaten enough food and now he needed to go hibernate, and he was just starving. You cant? sleep when you?re hungry! He was lying on a rock one day and he was mad, be- cause the lakes were frozen over, all the berries and roots and everything was covered under layers of ice and snow and he didn?t know how he was going to get through the winter. He was lying there feeling all grumpy and growly and suddenly, he sees Mr. Fox! A fox comes walking by and he?s got this huge stringer of fish in his mouth! He can?t believe it!

He goes, “Mr. Fox, where did you get that fish?” “Why,” said the fox, “I went ice fishing.”

“How?d you do that?” said the bear. “It?s easy for you. What you do is you go out on to the lake, and dig a hole in the ice, and then you take your tail” – and he pointed to bear?s tail, for in those days bear had beautiful bushy tails to match the rest of him – “you take your tail and you stick it in the hole and you sit down and you wait. You?ve got to be really quiet and you mustn?t move, because if you do you?re going to scare away the fish. After awhile, it?s going to start to hurt on your tail and that?s a good sign because that means the fish are biting. When it hurts so much that you think you don?t need any more fish, you?ve got to jerk up as fast as you can so the fish won?t have time to let go. And then you?ll get all the fish you can eat.”

“Great idea!” said Bear. “I?m going.” And he jumped off of his rock and lumbered on to the ice and dug a nice big hole in it. He took his big beautiful tail and stuck it inside the hole, and he sat down, waiting. “Ah, I?m so hungry, I can?t wait.”

After awhile, he went, “oh, ho, that hurt. That was probably a pike. Pretty sharp teeth there. Oh! Probably a sturgeon. Oo-hoo-hoo! Some lake trout and probably walleye too! Oh-how-ow!” He said, “This is probably more than I know how to eat! I?ll be okay.” When he finally had sat there long enough and it hurt so bad he couldn?t stand it, he jerked up and he jerked his tail right off. The ice had frozen solid around his tail, so that when he jerked up, he ripped his tail off. And all that bear was left with was this stubby little stump of a tail. And from that day on, bear has had only a little stumpy tail to this very day.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute!

You can do better. Some of you are a little too quiet!

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Talking Animals Genre

The next one is the talking animals, stories like The Three Pigs, or The Three Bears, or Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and all of those kinds, the Brer Rabbit stories, the Ananzi stories … my very favorite one which all of you ought to know, but I don?t know if I?ve told it to you … If I have, I haven?t told it for so many years, I?m going to do it anyway, is the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. (Pause) You must have. I know you have. It?s very short so I have time.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a far, far away country called Norway there lived three goats and the name of all three goats was The Billy Goats Gruff. Now these goats had a huge problem because in order to go up into the mountains to get grass, which is nice and juicy up there, they had to go across the bridge. And underneath this bridge lived the most hideous troll you have ever laid your eyes on. He was a huge, enormous creature with eyes as big as pewter plates and a nose as long as a poker. But there was no way around it. Across the bridge they had to go.

So the first one to go across the bridge was the teeniest and the tiniest of the three little goats and when he walked across the bridge he made a teeny tiny noise like this, “trip,trap, trip, trap …”

“WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll.

“I-I-it?s o-only me, I?m the t-teeniest, tiniest of the three little billy goats and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get f-f-fat.”


“P-please, d-don?t eat me up. Wh-why don?t you w-wait a little while ?til my brother comes. He?s really a lot bigger and f-f-fatter than I am.”

“ALL RIGHT THEN!” roared the troll. And off ran that little goat as fast as he could go.

Now the next one to go across the bridge was the second of the three goats. And when he walked across the bridge he made a sound like this, he went “Trip, Trap. Trip, trap.”

“WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll.

“Ho-ho-hit?s only me, I-I?m the second of the three b-billy goats and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get f-f-fat.”


“Oh, please don?t eat me. Why don?t you wait a little while until my b- b-big brother comes? He?s really a lot bigger and f-fatter and t-t-t-tastier too.”

“ALL RIGHT THEN!” roared the troll. And off ran that little goat as fast as he could go.

Now the next one to go across the bridge was the biggest of the three goats. He was just huge. His fur was shimmering and shining and he had these two gigantic horns in front of his head and he was so heavy that when he walked across the bridge, it sounded like thunder. And it went “TRIP, TRAP, TRIP, TRAP, TRIP … “WHO?S STEPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?” roared the troll. “It?s me. I?m the biggest of the three Billy Goats Gruff and I?m on my way up into the mountains to get fat.”


“Well, why don?t you come along. I?ve got two spears, with those I?ll poke out your eyeball and ears. I?ve got two curly stones with those I?ll break your body and bones. And he went at that troll and he broke every bone in his body and poked his eyes out and he shoved him way down into the river. And then he went with his brothers up into the mountains where they ate and got so big and so fat that if the fat hasn?t fallen off them yet, why, they?re still there.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! All right! You?re doing good.
So what kinds of movies or TV shows do you have that are about talking

animals today? (Inaudible student response) Okay, what else? Think of all those Disney movies? Bambi, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast … yeah, that?s more, yeah, we?ll get to that one. No,not the Cinderella… those are not just talking animals.

Think of … Winnie the Pooh? That?s…that?s talking toys. That?s called a fantasy. And the difference is they?re based on a book which has a known author. So those are not out of the oral tradition. Remember the difference is author versus no author. All folk tales have no known author that we know about. So good observation but they belong in the literary fantasy genre, not in the traditional folk tale. Because Winnie the Pooh is written by A.A. Milne, remember?

What?s the one with the dog and the cat that disappeared over the moun- tains you know and got lost and all that stuff… “Homeward Bound!” that was a good example. There?s a million Disney movies based on exactly that kind of a theme. So that?s a very popular one.

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Numbskulls Genre

Another one that I think you also see a lot of today are the ones that are called uh, numbskull. Can you read my handwriting? That?s a “U” when I put that. Sometimes they?re called noodlehead stories, too. And they?re stories about people who think they?re kind of clever but they?re actually very, very stupid. And they get into one scrape after another. Because what they think is a clever idea turns out to be a really bad idea.

There?s this very famous Norwegian story about the man who was going to keep house, or another very famous, sometimes they?re called “Jack” tales, and in Latin America, they?re always stories about a character named Pedro, he?s always very…and in Germany he?s always called Hans, and in England, there?s a very funny story called The Three Sillies. And I don?t have time to tell you the whole story, but I?ll get you the general idea.

It?s about a young woman who?s being courted by this guy. And so her parents have him over for dinner, and they serve him this nice meal, but he runs out of beer. So she of course jumps up and says, let me refill this. So she takes the mug and goes down into the basement where they have a big keg, and she opens up the tap and puts the mug underneath, but it?s a very slow drip.

So she sits down on the stairs to wait. And she?s sitting there she?s kind of looking around, and she sees that there?s an axe stuck in the beam in the ceiling. And she goes, “(gasp) What if me and my sweetheart were to get married and what if we had a little child and that child was a little boy and what if he came down here one day to get some, you know, ale for his father, and what if the axe got loose from the ceiling and hit him in the head? It could kill him! Boo-hoo, … so she just starts bawling at the thought of what possibly could happen one day, and forgets to come upstairs with the beer.

So her mother wants to know what?s going on so she comes downstairs … “Sweetheart, what?s the matter?” And she says “I came down here and I?m noticing the axe stuck in the beam of the ceiling and thought what if me and my sweetheart get married and we have a little boy one day and he comes down here to fetch some beer for his father and what if the axe got loose from the ceiling, it could kill him!” And the mother says, (sob sob sob) “That?s terrible!” So then she starts crying too. These people are not too bright. (laughs)

So then of course the father comes down, and there?s his wife and there?s his daughter, there?s beer spilling all over the place, and then he goes, “What happened?” and he gets the whole story and goes (gasp) (sob sob) and he starts crying.

So now the sweetheart?s sitting all alone upstairs, you know, “where are they all?” so he goes downstairs to see what happened. And so they tell him this whole story and he cannot believe it. And he goes, “Oh my God, you three are the silliest people I?ve ever met in my life and I am leaving and I?m never coming back unless I meet three sillies sillier than the three of you are.” And he just storms out of the house, and of course, now they really fall to crying because the girl has lost her sweetheart.

But he goes off on his way, sort of shaking his head, and he comes to this farm. And he sees this very strange sight. There?s this farmer and he?s try- ing to push his cow up a ladder on to the sod roof. And he goes, “What are you doing?” And the farmer says, “Isn?t it obvious? There?s green grass right here on my roof. Why should I take the cow for a mile?s walk to the pasture when I could just put him up here on the roof?” said the man. “Uh, aren?t you afraid it?s going to fall off?”

“Not at all,” says the man. “I?m just going to tie rope around his neck, put it down the chimney, I?ll go inside, tie the other end of the rope to my leg, and I?ll go about doing my business.” Well, the man doesn?t think it?s so good, but he sort of waits around to see what happens. And after a couple of hours of shoving this poor cow up a ladder, he finally gets the cow up, ties the rope around his neck, drops it down the chimney, ties the other end to his, you know, and starts to cook and you know, meddle around, and of course it doesn?t last very long before the cow falls off the roof and there?s no gentle tug on the leg … instead the man goes flunk – shooting up the chimney, gets stuck, and would have in all likelihood suffocated up there, and the cow strangled, if the man hadn?t cut the rope and let them both fall down. So he just shakes his head and goes “That?s one big silly.”

And he walks on and finds and inn for the night. Well, it?s full, so he has to share the room with another man, which is fine, ?cause he?s really tired, goes to bed, early the next morning, he wakes up, there?s this huge racket. He rubs his eyes and looks and here?s this guy, and he?s like, had his pair of pants hanging there, and he?s in his underwear, and he?s taking this run- ning start, and he?s leaping trying to leap into the pants (crash – rip) and he can?t do it of course. Back and forth, back and forth, finally, the man says, what are you doing?

“You know, they?re such a complicated invention these kinds of pants. You know it takes me the better part of a morning to put them on, every single day.”

“Oh,” says the man, “I can?t believe this. Has it never occurred to you that you could sit down on your bed and just take the pants and put one leg in at a time and then stand up and pull them up?”

“Wow,” said the man. “That is brilliant. I never thought of that.” So you know, another big silly.

He gets to another town, and here the people are up in arms at the end of the day because they think the moon has fallen into a pond. Of course it?s just a reflection. When he tries to explain it, he gets chased out of town. So now he?s met more than three sillies sillier than the three at home, so he has got to go home and marry his sweetheart because he is a man of his word. But as to whether or not they were happy, that?s another tale to tell.

So that?s the kind of story that?s called a numbskull story. And I think there?s a lot of television shows … I just watched “Home Improvement” the other day and it struck me that “Home Improvement” is one numbskull tale. Can you think of any others? (Student Response) Tweety Bird?s a good example. (Student Response) Tom and Jerry, very good example. How about “The Simpsons”? That?s often that way. Any others? I think sometimes, that “Seinfeld,” especially George, ha ha! George has a lot of schemes that are just exactly like this, right? So there?s very many shows on television. Nearly all sitcoms have a lot of that kind of element in it.

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Fairy Tales Genre

Then, the last kind of story, is the most traditional of the stories, and they?re the ones that are often referred to as the fairy tales, even though they don?t have any fairies in it. You know, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, a lot of … Hmmm? All of those stories fall into that theme of the fairy tales.

And here is where you see all of these values and things very typical of stories. Every culture in the world no matter where you go have these kinds of stories. This is not unique to Norway, or Europe, or the Americas, you find them everywhere in the world. And the other thing you find that?s very typical are certain kinds of values and certain ideas and themes that are repeated. And one of them that you see a lot of, in this is, the youngest child triumphs against all odds. Right? Everybody else thinks the youngest kid is stupid, isn?t going to make it, turns out to be the hero. Just like in “Home Alone”? “Home Alone” is a modern fairy tale. Very much so. That?s why it was so popular. …

So you have, there?s always the number three that?s repeated, things tend to happen in threes. As you?ve noticed, all stories begin and end with a formula. “Once upon a time, a long, long time ago …” Right? Always begins that way. And in English they end, “And they lived happily ever after.” In Norway, that?s the formula we use. (Points to “Snipp, Snapp, Snute on Board) Okay, so they always have a traditional beginning and a traditional ending.

You?ll find that all the characters are stereotypes. You?re either young or you?re old, you?re good or you?re bad, you?re pretty or you?re ugly, you?re mean or kind, you know, you?re either generous, or not. Love always conquers hate, greed is contrasted with generosity, you see all those kinds of things are repeated again and again and again in those stories.

And I wanted to tell you…is it 30 or 35? It used to be 35. Okay, so hopefully, I?ll get it in just as the bell rings.

I?ll tell you one last story, which is a classic fairy tale of that genre. And most countries of the world have Cinderella stories and Norway does not. Norway has Cinderlad, or Ashlad stories. Okay, so it?s never a girl, it?s a boy. And he doesn?t have to battle evil stepmothers, he has to battle trolls, because you know this is Norway. So I?m going to end with that story.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a far, far away country called Norway, there lived a father and a mother who had three sons. The father was a woodcutter who did a great job cutting down all these huge trees around his property. But one day when he was out in the woods, he was going at it so vigorously he threw his back out and could just hardly walk home. He just crawled home, into bed, hoping to get better, but weeks went by, and nothing improved. Finally, they ran out of money, and almost out of food, and there weren?t any banks, or social security, or social services to help anybody in those days, so you know, either he was going to get his sons to work, or they were going to starve.

So, he thought, “Pffft. You guys got to work.” And they?re like, “No, Dad, you?re just 60 years old, you?re not that old, you?ll get better in no time, we don?t want to chop down trees, it?s too much work, it?s boring, and besides, there?s trolls out there.” The father couldn?t believe it. He said, “Come on, don?t tell me you?re frightened of trolls. When I was your age, I dealt with trolls all the time. Those creatures are stupid! Don?t you know?” They were whining, but he was going after them, and told them about how they could do it, and finally he got them around to his way of thinking.

So the first one to go out was the oldest. He was a very cool kid, definitely

cool. He rolled up his sleeves, pulled up an axe, walked off into the woods. After awhile, he got to a place where there were really big, big trees. So he got his axe, and he started to get ready to chop. Ooh! He had no sooner cut the first blow then out of the woods comes this great big huge troll, screaming and roaring at him. “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you!”

And the boy was so frightened he flung his axe aside, he ran home as fast as he could and when he got home, he was sweating and panting and said “Mom, Dad, you don?t know how lucky you are that I?m still alive! There was this great big huge troll and he was ready to kill me and eat me!”

“I can?t believe it! You call yourself my son and you run away from the troll? Why, when I was your age, I dealt with trolls all the time, but you, you just stick your tail between your legs like a cowardly dog. I?m ashamed to call you my son.” There wasn?t much the boy could say to that so he went over to the corner and sat down.

So the next one to go out was the second brother, equally cool, got another axe, off into the woods, got to that place and started chopping. Ohh! He had no sooner struck the first blow when out of the woods again comes this great big huge troll, screaming and roaring “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you up!” and he just flung his axe and he ran home and he was out of breath, sweating, crying, “Mom, Dad, you don?t know how lucky you are I?m still alive! There?s a troll out there and he wanted to kill me and eat me!”

The father said … “You call yourself my son and you run away from a troll. I can?t believe it. You know when I was your age I dealt with those creatures all the time, but you, you?re nothing but a chicken.” There wasn?t much he could say so he went over to the corner and sat down.

Well now, the next one to go out was the youngest of the three, and him they had nicknamed the Ashlad because he liked to sit around and poke in the ashes. Oh, the brothers teased him to no end. They said “What? You go out and deal with a troll? Get serious! We all know the only thing you?re good for is sitting around at the fireplace poking in the ashes, or hanging on to your mama?s skirt! Give us a break!”

But he didn?t pay any attention. He just went to his mother and asked for some food, some provisions. She had not much, but she had some big juicy white cheese curds that she gave him. And these he put in his backpack, put his pack on, got another axe, and walked off into the woods.

There he found those big trees, put his backpack down, got the axe and started to chop. Ooh! He had no sooner struck the first blow when again out of the woods comes this great big huge troll. “If you?re cutting down my trees I?m going to kill you and eat you!”

But this boy, he wasn?t as slow-witted as the others. He went over to his backpack, got out one of his cheese curds and held it up saying, “If you don?t watch it, I?m going to squeeze you the way I?m squeezing the water out of this white rock I have here!”

“Oh, ho-ho, I didn?t know you were so strong. Uh, listen, would you spare my life if I help you cut down the trees?”

“Well, sure, that?s a good idea. Suit yourself.” So that?s what they did. They cut down trees for the rest of that day, and when they were all done, the troll, very hungry by now, said “oh, ho-ho-ho, why don?t you come to my place and we?ll have a bite to eat together?”

“Good idea,” said the Ashlad, because there was nothing at his house. So off they went, through the woods, until they got to the mountain in the blue where the troll lived. And they went inside and the troll said “Now I would like a nice pot of porridge. So why don?t you go outside and get the bucket and get water from the well and I?ll make up fire.”

So the Ashlad went outside, but when he saw the bucket, it was the hugest thing, it was made out of cast iron and he couldn?t even budge it. So he had to think really fast. After a bit he had an idea and he said, “Hey, you know I don?t think there?s any point going for water in that little thimble of a bucket you have out there. I?m bringing in the whole well.”

“Oh, no, no, no, I can?t afford to lose my water. Listen, forget about it. Why don?t you just make up the fire, and I will go and get water in the bucket.”

“Well, suit yourself,” said the Ashlad. So that?s what they did.The Ashlad made up the fire, the troll got the big huge bucket and filled it with water and they filled that whole thing with porridge.And when they were ready to sit down, the troll said, “Ho-ho, this will be nice! I?m so hungry!” and he grabbed that big pot and he carried it over.

And before he sat down, the Ashlad said, “Hey, how about it? Why don?t you and I have an eating competition?”

“Whoa-ho! That?s a great idea!” thought the troll. “I?m on!” And he thought he was going to have a nice piece of Ashlad for dessert. So he sat right down in front of that great big pot.

But before the Ashlad sat down, he snuck over, and he got his backpack, and he tied it around his stomach with the pack part in the front, and then he sat down to eat. And they ate, and they ate, and they ate.

And after awhile, instead of the food going in his mouth, he opened the pack, and put his food in the pack. And when the pack was full, he got out his knife, and he ripped a hole in it, and then he continued filling it.

The troll saw something was going on, but he was too stupid to figure out what it was. So he just kept on eating and eating and eating and finally said “I am sorry, I can?t eat another bite.”

“Come on! I?m not even half full yet!” said the Ashlad. “I don?t get it! How do you do it! You …. How could you eat so much?”

“Well it?s easy. You get out your knife, you put it to your stomach, and you rip a hole in your stomach. And that way you can eat as much as you want.””Uh, won?t that hurt?”

“Big old guy like you? I don?t think so.”

“Oh,” said the troll. And of course he didn?t want to be a lesser man. So he got out his knife, he put it too his stomach and he ripped a hole in it! With that he fell over dead as a doornail, crumbled up into a thousands of pieces of rock, so it looked like gravel on the floor there, and the Ashlad was safe. And he jumped down from his seat, ran inside the castle, and got all the gold and diamonds and silver that he could carry, out of the castle and brought it home to his parents. And with that, they lived in the greatest of comfort and safety to the end of their days.

Snipp snapp snute her er eventyret ute! I did it! I got it done in time. I had to shorten it a little bit. It worked. So there?s a classic, you know, sort of youngest kid. Everybody thinks he?s stupid and he turns out to figure it out.

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Credits for the Project

Lecturer: Lise Lunge-Larsen

Classroom Teacher: Holly Bowen-Bailey

Deaf Student/Target Audience: Daniel Durant

Filming/Computer Design/Captioning/ Sample Interpretations:
Doug Bowen-Bailey  Digiterp Communications

Transcription: Tom Wilkowske

Original Artwork:  Tahira Richardson

Reviewers: Judy Hlina & Amanda Gilderman

Support in Production and Distribution:

NE Minnesota Region III Low Incidence Project Facilitator:  Pat Brandstaetter

Administrative Assistant:  Tasha Honkola

RSA Region V Interpreter Education Project Project Director: Laurie Swabey

Project Managers:  Paula Gajewski & Richard Laurion

Administrative Assistant: Rosa Ramirez