Analysing spoken language: example
Here is another comedy clip. As you watch, listen to the characters' words, expressions, accent, and intonation (how their voice rises and falls).
The Catherine Tate Show
Analysis of the way the two characters talk:
The teacher: The teacher speaks softly and pronounces her words clearly. This may suggest a formal education and a background that values 'standard' modes of speaking. Her accent, particularly her pronunciation of 'r' in words (eg learn) shows she is from the West of England. This is characteristic of many rural and West Country English areas which is why Lauren asks if she is a farmer.
The teacher's tone is soft, showing that she is in a nurturing or caring role, but her speech is full of commands, showing that the relationship is unequal (or 'asymmetric'). The teacher is in a position of authority. She therefore gets angry when that authority is challenged. As the sketch goes on, however, the teacher loses her soft tone and she ends up acting like Lauren.
Lauren: The first thing we notice about Lauren is her confrontational manner. This is mirrored in her idiolect - she does not change the words or expressions she uses to fit the situation. She also picks up on the teacher's different accent. When she does she draws wrong conclusions. First she thinks the teacher must be from the north, then that she must be a farmer.
We laugh at the way Lauren speaks and the mistakes she makes. Lauren does not speak Standard English. We can hear this, for example, in the way 'th' is pronounced 'f' (as in 'norf'), and the way she repeats question tags such as 'is it'.
Conclusions: Lauren is very judgemental about the teacher. She draws conclusions based on how the teacher speaks. The audience, however, also draws conclusions about Lauren. We laugh because Lauren makes comments that seem inappropriate. While we may draw conclusions from the way people speak, we are usually aware that it is not polite to say: "you speak funny, is it!" What is funny is Lauren's lack of self-awareness. She has not stopped to think that the teacher might think Lauren herself sounds 'funny'. We might also be laughing because we recognise the way she speaks and acts in our friends and, perhaps, ourselves.
Lauren is a very successful comic creation. One reason people like her might be because we enjoy seeing the way spoken language causes problems. Different people, with different ways of speaking, cannot understand each other. It forces them apart and into confrontational situations. Recognising that, perhaps, brings us all closer together.
Asymmetrical relationship - a relationship where one person is in a more powerful social or professional position than the other (as opposed to a symmetrical relationship).
Rhetorical question - a question that works more like a statement: it does not require a genuine answer. It can be used as a persuasive device but also to create distance between two arguing parties.
Now try a Test Bite.
Back to Spoken Language Study index
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VCE English Language – Sample Spoken Transcript & Questions!
In today’s post, I’d like to present to students a sample informal spoken transcript along with some questions that I have created for you. I found the transcript online through a UK website and from this I formed my own questions.
Hint: go to Google and type in ‘spoken transcript examples’ and find some examples online of transcripts. This can be a great way for you to practice should you have run out of practice pieces! If you want to go a step further, you can even make your own questions for these pieces you find online 🙂
With many schools conducting their first SAC for English Language as short answer questions shortly, I believe this post will help many students! Make sure that you ask your teacher when and in what format your first SAC is – never leave this to the last minute. Even if you first SAC isn’t a short answer piece, you can still practice as undoubtedly this will help you for the exam, or just for understanding metalanguage!
I want you to look at this transcript and ask yourself first and foremost, “why is this transcript informal?”. Think about that for a few moments and then move.
“Why is this informal?”
What makes it informal? To give you some hints, have a look at:
- The spontaneity of the dialogue such as false starts…
- The efficiency of speech such as elision…
- The spoken discourse features such as pause fillers…
- The lexical features such as colloquialisms…
Okay that’s enough. But use that as food for thought 🙂
Download the transcript here: https://learnmate.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Spoken-Transcript-Example.docx
Answer the following short answer questions, paying close attention to the marking!
How does the language used reflect the informal context in which this conversation takes place? Refer to the subsystems of lexicology and phonology in your response. (6 marks)
- How are the syntactic choices here informal? Refer to two different examples. (4 marks)
Choose two different discourse particles and discuss the function of each in the text. Provide line numbers. (4 marks)
On line 11, an overlap can be seen. Is this a cooperative or uncooperative overlap? Explain why. (2 marks)
Short Answer Tips
- Look at the marks! This will give you an indicator as to how much you need to write. You don’t want to write too much, or even too little. This will mean you will run out of time, or have too much time left over and will compromise on quality answers.
- Look for plurals in the question (does it say ‘features’ or ‘choices’?).
- Do not list or write dot-points. This is an English subject.
- Try and knock this out ASAP when you get into the exam. More marks are allocated to the commentary and essay section. However, this doesn’t mean you compromise on quality.
- This section is a great test of your metalinguistic knowledge. If you fail to know your metalanguage then this section will be very difficult to complete indeed!
- Pay attention to the timing!
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