Spoken Language

A guide to spoken language features. Suitable for AS English Language.

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First 301 words of the document:

Informative ­ in a lecture (referential)
Social ­ in an informal conversation (phatic)
Aim to get something done ­ a telephone call to a plumber
Reveal a speaker's personal state of mind/attitude
In each case, the context, audience and speaker's intentions will
dictate the linguistic and prosodic choices made.
(1) Who are the participants and what are their roles?
(2) Do they have equal status?
(3) What is the purpose of the exchange?
(4) How is the discourse affected by the context?
Depends upon the relative status of the participants
o The inequality at a job interview between the
interviewers and interviewee means that the tone will be
o The equality between two students having a chat in the
common room means that the tone will be informal
Lexical, grammatical and prosodic choices will be dictated by
the manner ­ the relative formality or informality of the
Cultural and social expectations assimilated from an early age
means that participants in any spoken discourse will often
make the same kinds of decision about what is and what is not
The relationship of the speakers ­ or their relative status is
the first area of a transcript to address
Educational/social/economic status of the participants are
fixed ­ but other features are not.
Speakers may take it in turns to select topics
o Turn-taking may be co-operative or one speaker may
be more dominant than others
o The purpose of the discourse could change ­ making a
different participant the `expert'

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The topic and goal of a spoken encounter are also directly
related to the manner and the participants
The more clearly defined the purpose ­ the more formal the
exchange is likely to be
A formal speech will often first be written in note form or in
full ­ will have predetermined content
The subject matter of spontaneous informal conversation, is
usually random with no clear pattern or evidence of conscious
In an informal spoken exchange a speaker can introduce a
wide range of…read more


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