One of the challenges for the Conversational Analysts is capturing accents and humour in naturally occurring speech. Accents can say so much about a person: where they grew up, their social class and their attitude towards others. It can also add meaning to the discourse and create humour. But capturing an accent in a transcript is not a simple matter. Continue reading “Capturing Accents and Jokes”
Most commentators noted that the tone at Wednesday’s PMQs had shifted significantly from the reserved and hushed tones of previous meetings to a more rowdy and challenging tone yesterday. This illustrates what I call the ‘audience as participant’ effect whereby the audience (the chamber of MPs in this case) claims certain rights to the floor despite the fact that the conversation at PMQs is globally managed by the Speaker and turns are allocated by him. These rights include the right to cheer, jeer, laugh at and generally interrupt proceedings to voice their feelings, attitudes and concerns. Whilst the audience can never be called on to take a turn, they are able to influence the discourse as if they were a participant and the current speaker has to negotiate with this to establish the floor in the way he or she sees fit. Continue reading “PMQs Watch – Audience as Participant”
Hesitations are a natural part of unscripted spoken language. We all hesitate from time to time while speaking for various reasons: to plan what we want to say next, to correct errors or for dramatic effect. Hesitation is normally apparent in the speech output through repetitions, false starts and pauses (either filled or unfilled).
The definition of a tone unit is a “a stretch of speech uttered under a single … intonational contour” (Du Bois 1992). The key to this definition is a ‘single intonational contour’. Thus the decision as to where to split a string of words based on tone units depends primarily on the change in tone. Pausing and lengthening of syllables can also be used as cues for the termination of the unit although these are secondary.
Continue reading “Pausing and Tone Units”
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader candidate, raised an interesting question of what is tabloid journalism’ while being interviewing by Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 News recently. The comment reaches to the heart of political interviewing: who has the right to set questions and what constitutes appropriate answers?
Corbyn is asked by Guru-Murthy (Int) why he had called Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends’ in a recent speech.
Int: why did you call Hamas and Hezbollah your friends?
We presented the following presentation at the BESRES conference at Coventry University yesterday. The talk was well received and generated some useful discussion. Thank you to all who attended our talk and to the conference organisers for putting on the event.
Conference slides are here: BES Conference 2015 – slides