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Writing about Spoken Language

A number of people have asked me how you have to write about the Spoken Language Study. Again it is a case of analysis and evaluation but instead of zooming in or out of written work you are zooming in and out of the spoken word.

Analysing spoken language is similar to analysing a novel as you are still looking for devices / techniques but and you are evaluating its success against its purpose. See this post for more details: Spoken Language Study

We've agreed that a chat show should:

Give information to the wider audience and entertain them.
Give celebrities the opportunity to sell themselves / a product.

and that a chat show host:

Should create an identity for his / her show through their use of language etc.

If we look at this clip and then the following answer.

Graham Norton clearly has some planned questions he wishes to ask Salma Hayek to gain some new information for his wider audience. Without hesitating, he asks Hayek about her body image. This was clearly expected as she replied with 'we're talking about my breasts now' indicating that she knew this was coming and was prepared to talk about this. This is brand new information to the audience (who may tune in for celebrity gossip) to show that he is a skilled interviewer and to boost his audience. Her answer becomes more spontaneous as Jimmy Carr questions her and we can see from her hesitations and giggles, she is unsure about how to deal with this. Although this makes it clear she is insecure about talking about this subject, it is interesting information for the viewers. Graham Norton has prioritised his wider audience at the expense of his guest's comfort to keep viewers entertained and informed. During this, Norton flouts the relevance maxim my moving quickly to a segment on an Internet video. This may be to stop the guest feeling uncomfortable therefore restricting the information that the audience can gain. This is clearly pre-planned segment but it is obvious it hasn't been shared with the guests because Hayek is confused where the interview is now going and false starts in her answer. By flouting the maxim Norton sticks to his plan but loses the chance to gain more information on the topic in favour of humour but in doing so creates a section of interview that seems awkward to the viewer but they do get both entertainment and new information from the show.

As you read this look at the sections in green, red and blue.

The green sections you are showing evidence that you are aware of the show's purpose, format, audience or devices. 

The red sections you are zooming in on the effect of the language being used by the chat show host / guest.

The blue section you are evaluating how successfully the host has used language to create an effective interview.

So the methodology for writing about the way language is used in a chat show is:

Look for the features / devices that are used to appeal to the audience(s), that are appropriate to the format or  match the purpose of the show.

Analyse why the chat show host has used language in this way.

Evaluate whether the interview was successful / unsuccessful because of this.

Have a go at write a section one of the clips below.

Michael Parkinson - Rod Hull and Emu

Carol Vorderman - Piers Morgan Life Stories

Tom Cruise on Oprah
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+ comments + 1 comments

8 December 2013 at 11:40

Sir I've written a paragraph will you please tell me how I need to improve thank you.

At the start of the show Graham norton starts of in the audience to introduce the show: whilst introducing he uses covert prestige language (Scottish accent) to create an entertaining opening. It it clear from the start of the show that Norton purpose is to create an entertaining, humorous show so the fact that the norton and the audience are dressed up as vikings(?) only highlights this further. This will make the show seem like the place to be as the audience will feel involved and also implies that Norton goes to extreme lengths to entertain making him and his show seem excellent. Therefore elevating his status and gaining the high end guests that his viewing audience Wants to see further highlighting to his guests that they are important as he has gone to such lengths to introduce them (costumes and covert prestige language). Hower the entertaining introduction may make his viewing audience wonder if any if the juicy gossip they are tuned in for is going to be revealed as the the introduction is planned and has no spontaneous speech.

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