Part B: Transcription and text analysis
Transcribe a radio advertisement in as much detail as you feel is necessary and, drawing on the transcript and on relevant module materials in Section 2 of the module, discuss the ways in which it utilises the properties of the language to convey its message.
This advertisement functions by distinguishing a digital radio from analogue radio and connecting the ‘new’ radio to the listeners’ desire for quality. There is also a recurrent theme of new concepts and efficient commodities replacing out-dated ones and a sense of being mocked, in a humorous way, for not following suit and remaining old-fashioned. The advertisement evokes humour to create a sense of being able to avoid frustration of being restricted by out-dated technology.
This paper will now look at the creative strategies employed to convey the advertisement’s message. See the Appendix for a transcript of the radio advertisement.
I will discuss what can a phonological analysis indicate about the use of language in about this clip and pick out the most notable features.
The pronunciation is standard British English however B has a feature of Received Pronunciation (RP) in articulating the o consonant more fully in line 2. The sound of /əʊ/ in /hə’ləʊ/ is made nearer the front /e/ position.
In line 3, ‘digital’ /’dɪdʒɪtəl/ /ˈdɪdʒɪt(ə)l/ dʒ sounds more like ʒ sounds as in television.
Yod coalescence, blending of the <y> sound with the <t> sound preceding an <oo> vowel, occurs within the word ‘tuning’ in line 16. The speaker B uses [tʃ] (a ch sound) rather than [tj] (a t-sound plus a y sound) in the word ‘tuning’. This makes the first part of ‘tuning’ sound like [tʃu:]. Yod coalescence is a phonetic characteristic of ‘Estuary English (EE).’ EE is a linguistic phenomenon which manifests the tendency for features of popular London accent to spread out geographically. It is interesting that the speaker B who exhibited a feature of RP exhibits a feature of EE in a subsequent line. This segmental feature is probably unintentional/coincidental. Nevertheless it complements the advertisement’s overall message that ‘old’ will be replaced by the ‘new’ as some have suggested that EE will eventually replace RP. Interesting
The segmental findings (a blend of RP and EE British Standard English) suggest that the advertisement is intended to appeal to a wide audience across all classes within the British class system.
Stress and pitch
The second syllable in ‘Hello’ in line 1 is stressed and pitched thus opening the dialogue with a joyous tone. Intonation follows grammatical patterns such as rising intonation in questions in line XYZ for example. There is a strong link between intonation and attitude. The tone falls when an interlocutor gives new information in line 3 ‘I’d like to buy a digital radio’ and follows the ‘fall-rise’ pattern in line 4 when the speaker B repeats shared knowledge ‘digital radio.’ ü Although, the rising pitch in ‘again’ also shows surprise followed by the stress on the first syllable in the word ‘digital’ indicating disbelief.
⃝ ⃝ ⃝
Come again? A DIgital radio?
The tone falls again in line 5 suggesting that the speaker A is communicating shared knowledge. The words given stress STAtions, TUning and SOund in line 5 emphasise the key information about the product. From a semiotic perspective, the asyndetic list in this line is also an example of triadic structure; a common technique used in persuasive language. ü The intonation does not fall at the end of the utterance as we would expect when a speaker indicates that a turn is finished. Pairing an unfinished turn with an asyndetic list indicates that the list isn’t exhaustive. In this way, the advertisement utilises the properties of the language to convey that there is more on the list that isn’t mentioned.
The tonic syllable in line 6 is on the modal verb COuld expressing possibility in addition to inclination in a conditional form creating an admonishing tone. From a pragmatic perspective, the illocutionary act of advising against buying a digital radio is performed by way of performing another illocutionary act (Searle, 1975:60 in Culpeper and Haugh (2014)
Elongation or but eh- utterance in line 6 makes the word ‘but’ sound more like ‘butter’ and signals an unfinished turn. However, the speaker A takes the floor and repeats ‘but’ in the same way this time indicating a question.
The tonic syllable in the line 9 is ‘old.’ Giving this word the stress indicates that it is the most important part of the sentence.
⃝− ⃝ ⃝ − ⃝ − ⃝
That’s the OLD type of radio.
Pitch, stress and volume changes noticeably in lines 10 and the first tone unit in line 12 ‘no no no’, indicating strong emotions. In turn-taking, an increase in loudness may be used to hold onto a turn or interrupt (Sacks et al, 1974, 1974). ü
The tonic syllable of the second tone unit in the line 12 is ‘new’; the antonym of ‘old’ in the preceding line.
⃝− ⃝ −⃝ ⃝
Analog is the new digital. ü
From a semantic perspective, the juxtaposition of ‘new’ and ‘old’, paired with the suprasegmental features in lines 10 and 12, further conveys the overall message of the advertisement that ‘old’ will be replaced by ‘new’ despite repeated protests. ü
Lines 15, 20 and 28 include paralinguistic components such as laughter and sighing.
The old-fashioned shop doorbell in line 2 and the Radio Tuning Frequency sound effects in lines 16-18 are extralinguistic components Yes – providing context and indicating the interlocutors’ shared space.
Perhaps cut back a little here to allow more room for your pragmatics analysis at the end?
Morphology and lexical semantics
From a morphological perspective, affixation of the Latin root ‘digit’ makes the advertisement funny. Denotative meanings of ‘digit’ include ‘number’ and ‘finger’. ü Derivational suffix –al is used in lines 3, 4, 19 and 25. The word class is changed from a noun to an adjective ‘digital’ meaning the antonym of ‘analogue.’ ü
The inflectional suffix –s results in the plural form of the two nouns and creates polysemy. ‘Digits’ in line 22, denoting ‘numbers’ is used as pertaining to ‘digital’ which is used in a ‘using digits (numbers) sense. However in line 26, digital is used as a pertainym pointing to ‘digits’ as a synonym of ‘fingers.’
From a phonological perspective, speaker B places the tonic syllable in this line on the last content word ‘digital’ to show the focus of the information. Multisyllabic words are not equally stressed when they are pronounced. Speaker B clearly violates the rules of the word stress by pronouncing all the syllables with the same strength (DI.GI.TAL). The suprasegmental features and the ambiguity of ‘digits/digital’ generate listener amusement and works to establish a common viewpoint of the product on the part of the advertisement writers and the listeners. Good points
The informal term ‘quid’ in line 25 is used to appeal across the age spectrum. The term was used in formal contexts up until the 70s and denotes a £1 coin.
Using the term ‘digits’ in its archaic sense and the term ‘quid’ creates a reminiscent tone and further emphasises the obsoleteness of ‘analogue.’ Using the acronym ‘dab’ in this line creates alliteration which is used as a rhetorical device to focus the listeners’ attention on the product. ü
The dialogue is presented as a natural spontaneous conversation unprepared for by the participants and this is reflected in the use of the present tense with the exception in line 27 which uses present perfect ‘I’ve left.’ The correct tense to use would be present progressive ‘I’m leaving’ or ‘I’m going to leave.’ This contradiction between the situation and the tense adds to the playful tone effect. ü
Spoken language grammar differs from written language. First spoken language feature that can be identified in this advertisement is the use of contractions in lines 3 (I’d), 13 (Don’t), 17 (haven’t), 21 (haven’t), 23 (that’s) and 27 (I’ve). Deictic markers used to make reference to the immediate context are used in lines 22 (that) üand 26 (this), ü for example.
There are also examples of fragmented sentences: Brazil (1997, cited in Scott Thornbury and Diana Slade, 2006) proposed a view of grammar in a natural dialogue which helps explain the seemingly fragmented nature of transcribed talk. Spoken language is characterised by non-clausal material which includes inserts and syntactic non-clausal units (Biber et al. 1999 in Scott Thornbury and Diana Slade, 2006). Inserts, which do not enter into syntactic relations with other structures, consist of response words in lines 5 and 23 (yeah); 18 (what? Sorry what?), 24 (yes, yes), 28 (oh). Line 6 contains both a response word (oh right) and a discourse marker (well). ü
Syntactic non-clausal units are capable of forming elements of clause and sentence structures. Examples include answers to questions and ellipsis. Ellipsis occurs in line 4 where we would expect to use ‘You would like to buy’ if we followed grammatical rules. This ellipsis emphasises the term ‘digital radio’ which is the advertised product. Further ellipsis occurs in line 5 with the use of a verb phrase (run twice….) and lines 14, 16 and 19 with the use of noun phrases. In all of the examples the ellipsis occurs at the beginning of an utterance because the information is recoverable from the context, and hence redundant. The omission of ‘have’ in line 22 (I got digital…) produces informal language. üThis utterance is also ungrammatical because it is incomplete after the speaker B abandoned it. ü
The use of grammar characteristic of spoken language helps the advertisement recreate natural dialogue and creates an effect of listening in on someone else’s immediate conversation with the purpose of generating listener amusement. Good point
The conversation consists of orderly utterance sequences or adjacency pairs (Schegloff and Sacks, 1973:295 in Paul ten Have, 2011:9) and opens with an instance of greeting-greeting pair type (lines 1 and 2). There is no ‘terminal exchange’ following ‘possible pre-closings’ or a ‘closing section’ and the conversation ends with an interruption (‘I’ve left’, line 27) and a non-lexical vocalization (‘oh’, line 28) without the speakers assuring a desired end. Most utterances correspond to the places of transition-relevance. ü For example, speaker B encouraged speaker A to take the floor by employing a hesitation in line 6. However, speaker A interrupts speaker B in line 11. This results in overlapping ü and emphasises the clash of opinions between the two speakers. ü Speaker B filled her slot with an ‘occasionally usable device’ (Sacks in Paul ten Have p. 4) to avoid having to admit that she does not have any digital radios (Come again?’, line 4). Speaker B then follows the procedure of ‘fitting’ in line 6 preceding the filled pause in line 8 as a way of getting mentionables (analogue radio) mentioned. ü The resources employed at the local level of organization of utterances and features of the organization of topic complement properties of language in creating humour.
Finally, I will discuss pragmatic dimensions of the advertisement.
The advertisement could be seen as operating at two levels; first through the direct address to the listener (second person pronoun ‘you’, lines 25 and 29). ü Second, through the implied message and the implied direct address (lines 6, 8 and 13). Line 8 can be seen as a rhetorical question- a common persuasive language feature. However, in terms of the communication between the advertisement writer and listener, the ‘joke’ or playfulness is dependent on listener inference and background knowledge of polysemy of the term ‘digital’.
Pseudo-turns in lines 25 and 29 are examples of mood derivable impositive (direct) requests (Blum-Kulka et al. 1989b in in Culpepper Haugh p 169) because the imperative sentence type matches the speech act. üThe caustic comment in line 13 is an example of a type of expressive speech act (Searle, 1975 in Culpepper Haugh p 164). ü
Speaker B does not meet the felicity condition of having the requisite thought when stating something she knows to be untrue. The speaker B is aware that ‘digital’ connotes with ‘modern’ however chooses to violate the maxim of quality by referring to analogue as ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ with connotations of ‘high quality and lasting value’. ü Flouting Grice’s conversational maxim of quality (Grice, date Logic and Conversation) coupled with the background radio tuning frequency sound effects (line 18) creates humour.
Lines 12, 22 and 25 are examples of figurative language-a conversational implicature resulting from exploiting the maxim of quality. Line 12 is an example of a metaphor (analog is the new digital) implying that analogue is the extremely popular. Line 25 (‘accept nothing less’) is an example of an idiom. The unfinished utterance in line 22 (‘coming out of my…’) is an example of a hyperbole. expressions. Hyperbole takes the verb phrase form and intensifies the utterance. Hyperbole functions to introduce humour and informality into the advertisement as well as to gain attention.
Lastly, taking a wider socio-cultural context into account, the fact that the male’s voice is the ‘voice of reason’ following and preceding a quarrel between two women, might appear sexist. However, it is unlikely that sexism was intended on the part of the advertisement writers.
Using the tools of pragmatics reinforced the findings from conversation analysis.
This paper discussed the ways in which the transcribed radio advertisement utilised the properties of the language to convey its message, evoke humour and generate listener amusement. ü
Strong work based on detailed reading
Culpeper and Haugh (2014) ‘Pragmatics and the English Language’, in The Open University (2016) EE817 Readings [Online]. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=916390§ion=2.1
Grice (1975) ‘Logic and Conversation’, , in The Open University (2016) EE817 Readings [Online]. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=916390§ion=3
Paul ten Have (2007) ‘Three Exemplary Studies’, in The Open University (2016) EE817 Readings [Online]. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=916389§ion=2.1
Scott Thornbury and Diana Slade (2006) ‘The Grammar of conversation’, in The Open University (2016) EE817 Readings [Online]. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=916388§ion=4 (accessed 10 January 2017)
|1||A||((old-fashioned shop doorbell sound)) Helloá?|
|3||A||I’d like to buy a digital radio|
|4||B||Come again? (.) A digital radio?|
|5||A||Yeah, you know (.) run twice the number of sta:tions, easy tuning, digital sound¿|
|6||B||Oh right, well well you could buy one of those but(?) but erm|
|7||A||But(?) but erm|
|8||B||Well, have you heard about hm (.) analog?(?)|
|9||A||That’s the old type of radio|
|10||B||No no no[ no]|
|11||[Yesü it is]|
|12||B||No no no Analog is the new digital|
|13||A||Don’t be silly|
|14||B||Authentic retro sound [vin]|
|16||vin[tage] tuning action (( ))|
|17||A||You haven’t got any have you? (( ))|
|18||B||(( )) [What? Sorry what?]|
|21||A||you haven’t got any|
|22||B||course I got digital radios I got digital RADios coming out of my …well that has got digits on it come on|
|23||A||Yea but that’s an alarm clock|
|25||(M)||Yes now that you can buy d.a.b. digital radio from under 50 quid accept nothing less|
|26||B||This one well you need your fingers your actual digits to turn it on so it is sort of DI (.) GI (.) TAL|
|29||M||Check coverage in your area|
A strong attempt at the transcription
A + B – two female interlocutors
(M) – male voice. The brackets signal a pseudo-turn. Such turns do not form part of the conversation between A and B.
[word] – overlapping talk
wo:rd – elongated sound (: :: ::: prolonged pronunciation)
á, ↓ – rise in pitch, falling pitch
WORD -Capitals, except at the beginnings of lines, indicate especially loud sounds relative to the surrounding talk
_______Underscoring indicates some form of stress via pitch and/or amplitude
(( )) Radio Tuning Frequency sound effects, sounds that cannot be rendered phonetically
. , (?) ¿ falling intonation, continuation, rising intonation, somewhat
he, ha- laughter, somewhat quiet
Write a 500-word reflective commentary on how your online collaboration in this assignment and in TMA 01 has been helpful in terms of your PDP.
My online collaboration in this assignment helped me in completing then Part B. I found the tutor’s TMA 2 Part A feedback and suggestions particularly useful. I was able to start thinking about language in its linguistic form focusing on phonology; semantic form focusing on meaning of language and pragmatics form, focusing on the factors affecting language choices. I found that semantics was my strength. I thought that phonology would be a problem point in the language and I would feel most need for linguistic guidance. However, I enjoyed discussing phonology in my assignment.
My learners need most help with analysing language at word, sentence and paragraph level. My aim is to help learners analyse how writers use language techniques used to convey meaning effectively so that they can then use these techniques effortlessly in their own writing. Learners also need to be able to analyse how writers use structure to achieve effects and influence readers. Yes Lastly, the learners must use grammatical features to support coherence and cohesion of the texts that they produce. ü After reading Philip Seargeant’s ‘Time, tense and perception in the narrative voice of Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park in the Module Reading, I planned a lesson with improving conciseness, cohesion and coherence in writing. Using a narrative analogy, I demonstrated to learners that they should begin their sentences with information that is already familiar to their readers; information that can be presumed to be part of the readers’ general knowledge or information that they already introduced within the text. The learners commented that we introduce new information ‘in the next chapter’ as ‘the story develops.’ I was then able to integrate the literary device of ‘foreshadowing.’
The course material has helped me to consider how language can be analysed and the principles related to language teaching and learning. I am now able to better identify and appreciate the source of learners’ errors. Most of my GCSE learners speak English as an additional language. I take more interest in the differences between the conventions of English and other languages. I bought Michael Swan’s book ‘Learner English’ (2001) and analysed some of the problems my learners have in English. I considered phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics and investigated whether any of my learners’ errors can be attributed to interference from features of their first language. For example, I learnt that there is no distinction between simple past and present perfect in Arabic or that Arabic learners struggle with identifying parts of speech in the English language. I will continue studying Swan’s book.
I feel more confident with incorporating morphology into my lessons and sourced several kinaesthetic morphology learning activities. I shared these with my colleagues as part of sharing good practice. I find that morphology helps learners with vocabulary comprehension, spelling and grammar. For example, a learner was struggling with identifying parts of speech. I was able to integrate my knowledge of affixes and use the relevant terminology to support my teaching.
Good discussion showing how you’ve been able to use your learning from EE817 to develop your professional practice.
Part A postings:
- Submit an example of a recent headline from a newspaper, magazine or online article, and comment on the ways in which it exploits the properties of the language in order to attract the reader’s attention. Comment, too, on any ways in which its full significance involves an appreciation of factors beyond the text.
- Add a comment to posts from two other students, responding to their examples by, for instance, adding a point, querying a point or developing their discussion further.