English Language Conversational Theorists

all theorists in a table for quick but detailed revison, so you can refer to the theorys in the exam to secure a place in higher grade boundaries

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  • Created on: 14-05-09 12:01
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AS English Language ­ Theory Revision
Theorist Date Theory/Research Details Links with other areas
Spoken Language
Howard .v Giles 1973 Accommodation theory Convergence and Language and power
divergence (modification of
our speech) Downward,
upward and mutual
Irvine Goffman 1955 Face Theory Positive face/Negative Face Language and Power
PF- be friendly, social
NF- to put down, unsociable
H P Grice 1975 Grice's Maxims The maxims: Quality (Truth Language and Gender
and evidence), Quantity
(Don't speak too much or
too little), Relevance (Speak
in context of conversation)
and Manner (Speak in a
coherent, structured way).
If not followed it is called
flouting the maxims
Labov 1975 Narrative Theory Recognises story telling as a
part of spoken language in
everyday usage. Follows
story structure features
confirming the relationship
between form and function
in spoken language.
O'Barr and Atkins 1980 Study of courtroom cases Challenges Lakoff. Concept Language and Power
and witnesses' speech of `powerless language'.

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Based on situation NOT
Coulthard,Sinclair, Brazil 1975 Exchange structure theory A structured model that can Language and power
be applied to different
forms of discourse. Initiating,
response, feedback. This is
the three part exchange.
Austin and Searle 1962 and 1969 Speech Act Theory Language is a communication Austin and Searle
act, between a speaker and
a listener, to carry
information or to be
It looks at the message sent,
the content and the
attended affect.…read more

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Conflict vs. Compromise
Fishman Pamela FIshman Challenges Lakoff's view of Language and Power- as
questions, because women men will feel they have a
ask more questions as a higher status than women.
result of insecurity in a
mixed gender conversation.
Me are likely to speak twice
as longer as women.
Zimmerman and West Dominance Male/Female conversation, Languuage and Power.
men are more likely to Spoken language
interrupt women. Men will
exert their power.…read more

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Peter Trudgill 1970 Overt and covert prestige Covert prestige behaviour
and language that goes
against the social norms
Overt prestige attaches to
respectable and social
Deborah Jones 1990 Gossip! House Talk ­ Exchange of
Scandal ­ Judging behaviour
of others
Bitching ­ Overt expression
of anger
Chatting ­ Intimate form of
Robin Lakoff Women's Words Use of; intensifiers, Spoken Language and
pronouns, weak expletives, Language and Power
rapport and an adherence to
social conventions.…read more

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Instrumental power and
Influential power
Brown and Levinson Politeness Strategy Bald politeness strategy ­
Ignore FTA
Negative politeness
strategy- Recognise a need
for freedom
Indirect politeness strategy
­ avoid FTA's
Positive politeness strategy
­ boost listeners dignity.…read more


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