Anthology Spoken Devices/Techniques

  • Created by: apexious
  • Created on: 10-01-23 16:46


The way in which words are pronounced. Accent can vary according to the region or social class of a speaker.

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Adjacency Pairs

Parallel expressions used across the boundaries of individual speaking turns. They are usually ritualistic and formulaic socially. For example: "How are you?" / "Fine, thanks"

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Words, phrases and non-verbal utterances (e.g "I see", "oh", "uh huh", "really") used by a listenerbto give feedback to a speaker that the message is being followed and understood

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A short form often marked by an apostrophe in writing - e.g can't = cannot; she'll = she will. 


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Deixis / deictics

Words such as "this", "that", "here", "there", which refer backwards or forwards or outside the text - a sort of verbal pointing. Very much a context dependent feature of talk.

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The distinctive grammar and vocabulary which is associated with a regional or social use of a language

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Discourse marker

Words and phrases which are used to signal the relationship and connections between utterances and to signpost that what is said can be followed by the listener or reader. E.g "first", "on the other hand", "now", "what's more", "so anyway", etc

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The omission or slurring [eliding] of one or more sounds or syllables

e.g gonna = going to; wannabe = want to be; wassup = what is up

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The omission of part of a grammatical structure. For example, in the dialogue: "You going to the party?" / "Might be" - the verb "are" and the pronoun "I" are missed out. The resulting ellipsis conveys a more casual or informal tone.

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False start

This is when the speaker begins an utterance, then stops and either repeats or reformulates it. Sometimes called self-correction


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Items which do not carry conventional meaning but which are inserted in speech to allow time to think , to create a pause or to hold a turn in conversation. Examples are "er", "um", "ah". Also called voiced pause.

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Key functions are transactional, representational, interactional, phatic and expressive; other functions are performative and pedagogic (educational).

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A hedge is a mitigating word, sound or construction used to lessen the impact of an utterance for politeness or soften a blow. Often adjectives or adverbs (e.g just) but may be a clause (e.g a tag question)

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An individually distinctive style of speaking 

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Interactional talk

Language in conversation used for interpersonal reasons and/or socialising

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Non-fluency features

Typical and normal characteristics of spoken language that interrupt the "flow" of talk. Some examples: hesitations, false starts, fillers, repetitions [though can be use for emphasis], overlaps and interruptions.

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Non-standard English

Colloquial words/slang ("blud"), demotic/taboo (swearing) language, informal grammar (e.g "we was going").

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Phatic talk

Conversational utterances that have no concrete purpose other than to establish or maintain personal relationships. it's related to small talk - and follows traditional patterns, with stock responses and formulaic expressions: "How are you?" / "Fine"; "Cold, isn't it?" / "Freezing"

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Positive politeness involves making your listener feel good.

Negative politeness means not imposing on your listener

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Prosodic features

Includes features such as stress, rhythm, pitch, tempo and intonation - which are used by speakers to mark out key meanings in a message. Essentially, how something is said. 

Paralinguistic features - include laughter and non verbal utterances

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An alteration that is suggested or made by a speaker, the addressee or audience in order to correct or clarify a previous conversational contribution.

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A variety of a language used by a particular social group; a social dialect

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Tag question

Strings of words normally added to a declarative sentence to turn the statement into a question. E.g "It's a bit expensive round here, isn't it?"

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Topic Management

Topic Marker - the introduction of a topic at the start of a conversation

Topic Shift - the change to a new topic

Topic Loop - the return to a topic previously discussed

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Turn taking

A turn is a time during which a single participant speaks, within a typical, orderly arrangement in which participants speak with minimal overlap and gap between them. The principal unit of description in conversational structure

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An utterance is a complete unit of talk, bounded by the speaker's silence

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Vague language

Statements that sound imprecise and unassertive. E.g - "and so on", "or whatever", "thingummy", "whatsit".

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