Text A is an extract from a recent interview on the television programme ‘Parkinson’ between Michael Parkinson and the famous sportsman David Beckham. Text B is a dialogue from the film ‘Cool Runnings’ released in 1993. Text C is a spontaneous account of a rugby match in 1927 between England and Wales. Compare and contrast three transcripts based around a common theme. All three transcripts share the common theme of sport. While addressing the issue in very different ways, they ultimately all aim to entertain and inform.
The speech ranges from spontaneous to completely scripted and these differences in creation are visible through the varying techniques and characteristics on display. The purpose of the Parkinson interview is to primarily entertain, but also inform and educate the listener of Beckham’s views. Beckham was the captain of the England football team, and this global exposure led to him becoming a football superstar. Although he is there to talk about football, he also has a distinguished brand image to portray. These factors would have led to a mixed and vast audience.
The questions would have been discussed beforehand, creating the semi-scripted feel, but Parkinson is likely to improvise in parts. Text B is a scripted discussion between two characters, in which Brenner is giving an inspirational talk to Junior. The film is a comic take on the real event of the Jamaicans entering the Olympic sport of bob sleighing. Although the scene shows an interactional speech, it takes a form similar to that of a speaker to an audience in how it emotes feelings through use of repetition such as ” I see pride”, “I see power”.
The purpose is similar to Text A – to entertain but within the narrative, the purpose is to inspire and motivate the character. Text C is a spontaneous and so shows many of the features of this, such as running repairs like ” about as exciting as anyone could wish for(. ) Oo I can’t say that”. One of the main contextual differences is the lack of brand image and celebrity status of sportsmen/women during this time unlike in Text A. In Text A, the dialogue begins by Parkinson introducing Beckham, which is a generic conversation at the start of an interview.
Parkinson uses phatic language to initiate the conversation with ‘You alright’. Parkinson immediately creates an informal atmosphere through the use of non-standard English; more specifically the omission of ‘Are’. Although this could be seen as a rhetorical question Beckham replies and subverts the typical form of an interview by returning the question to Parkinson. This is likely done out of politeness in compliance with the ‘politeness principle’ although the interviewer does not answer the question thus showing how he dominates.
The use of small talk at the beginning of an interview is common, it sets the scene and it is considered polite. The informality is sustained through the immediate use of his first name ‘ David urm ‘ followed by a filler. The conversation begins with a number of fillers such as ‘um’ and pauses, as well as false starts shown through repetition: ‘the (. ) the (. ) the game’. As the interviewer is entering a sensitive topic for Beckham, his stuttering allows him to voice his uncertainty on how to approach the topic. Text C also shows false starts like ” about as (. about as exciting”.
This is a characteristic of non scripted pieces, although the stutters in each text are very different in terms of context, both allow time to re-think the way of which something will be said. Parkinson eventually chooses to make the statement “It was awful wasn’t it” which adds a tag question for reassurance or agreement. After establishing the informality, this statement is accepted and by using rising and falling intonation, it is portrayed as humorous by the audience; which is shown through laughter.
The informal nature of the interview is also shown through paralinguistic features, such as the relaxed posture of both parties, although this can not be portrayed fully in the transcript. Turn taking is prominent in Text A, and Parkinson as the host does not take a passive role, and fully interacts in the conversation through the use of inclusive pronouns such as ‘We seem to be’. This contrasts with text B and C, particularly text B where Brenner is talking at Junior rather than with him.
This is evident through the number of imperative sentences, for example, ‘Now look in this mirror, and tell me what you see’. This creates a sense of urgency while building tension in the scene. Brenner also uses rhetoric questions like “well you wana know what I see? “. This gives the dialogue the characteristics of an inspirational speech. Interrogative sentences coupled with declarative sentences immediately following such as “I see a bad-ass mother” are emotive and impacting.
These emotive sentences are furthered by finishing with the use of an exclamative such as ‘no crap off nobody! . Unlike in text A, one of the characters takes a passive role in the extract, showing his uncertainty through rising intonation. Text A and B are both similar in the sustained use of elision examples such as “wasn’t” and “it’s” from Texts A and B respectively. Text C although it also has examples of elision, does not use non-standard English like that of the other texts. This gives an idea of how spoken language has developed over time, with the use of phrases rarely heard such as “Well done sir”.
This is very different to the non-standard English used in text B a noticeable example being the use of “bad ass mother”. Although technically being a negative phrase it is used in a positive manner as a metaphor for a brave, respected and daring person. One notable difference in Text C is the expostulation such as ” Ooo I can’t say that”, this is more evident in spontaneous speech and shows the excitement and tension that is being built up during the match. Text C contains numerous deictic sentences like ” This first half has been as exciting as anyone could wish for”.
This is commonly found in non-scripted pieces whereby context is more important. Text A shows this also with the sentence “We must talk about … the game”. Interviews often focus on current affairs in the subject’s life and so it is not required to explain what game is being referred to. Text C reveals practices in spoken language that have evolved over time, the use of players names like “Pearl is taking it”. This is now common practice today and has developed from early commentary. In addition, the accent that is heard in Text C is very well spoken with Received Pronunciation.
This is a sign of the time period, with ‘BBC English’ being the only accent commonly heard broadcasted, this is very different to the modern transcripts where regional accents flourish. Text A as a whole has a negative undertone that can be seen by looking at the words stressed during the conversation. “Wasn’t”, “frustrating”, “support”, “machine”. This can also shown from the syntax order for example, ” It’s a problem isn’t it”. This emphasises subject as the problem, and is a leading question.
Text C has a much more vibrant feel, and positive approach with shown with phrases such as “Well done”, “exciting”, “Come on England”. All three transcripts have dealt with the issue of sport, and through this common theme, it is clear to see how spoken English has evolved and how different time periods show variation in the language used today. It is evident how the different contextual factors influence the outcome of the speech, with scripted speech offering a contrasting feel to more natural speech found in spontaneous accounts.