Topic 5 – Oral communication. Elements and norms that govern oral discourse. Routines and habitual formulas. Strategies of oral communication.

1. INTRODUCTION.. 4

1.1. Acquisition vs Learning. 4

1.2. History. 4

1.2.1. Rhethoricians. 4

1.2.2. Grammar Translation method. 4

1.2.3. Saussure. 5

1.2.4. McCarthy. 5

1.2.5. Firth. 5

2. LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE.. 6

2.1. Prepared vs Spontaneous. 6

2.1.1. Prepared language: 6

2.1.2. Spontaneous speech: 6

2.2. Paralinguistic features of spoken language. 7

2.3. Syntactic features of spoken language. 7

2.3.1. A spoken language grammar? McCarthy. 7

2.3.2. incomplete sentences: 8

2.3.3. Subordination avoided: 8

2.3.4. Active-comment: 8

2.3.5. Highlighting: 8

2.3.6. Topic-comment structure: 8

2.3.7. Context dependence: 8

2.3.8. Progress refinement of expression: 9

2.3.9. Repettition: 9

2.3.10. Fillers: 9

2.4. Lexical features of spoken Ianguage. 9

3. ERUING GOFFMAN’S CONSTRANT.. 10

3.1. Main works. 10

3.2. System and Ritual Constraints. 10

3.2.1. System Constraints. 10

3.2.2. Ritual constraints. 13

4. CONCLUSIONS. 13

5. BIBLIOGRAPHY.. 14

6. TOPIC-BASED UNIT.. 15

6.1. Introduction. 15

6.1.1. Option and Justification. 15

6.1.2. Connection with the official curriculum.. 15

6.1.3. Our school and our students. 15

6.2. Working Plan. 16

6.2.1. Materials. 16

6.2.2. Specific objectives. 16

6.2.3. Contents. 16

6.3. TEACHING LEARNING ACTIVITIES. 16

6.4. ASSESSMENT. FOLLOW-UP AND REMEDIAL PROCEDURES. 17

1. LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE.. 18

1.1. Introduction. 18

1.1.1. Learnning vs acquisition: Krashen. 18

1.1.2. History: 18

1.2. Linguistic features of spoken language. 18

1.2.1. Prepared vs Spontaneous. 18

1.2.2. Paralinguistic features of spoken language. 18

1.2.3. Syntactic features of spoken language. 19

1.2.4. Lexical features of spoken language. 19

1.3. ERUIN GOFFMAN´S CONSTRAINTS. 19

1.3.1. Main works: 19

1.3.2. System and Ritual constraints. 19


1. INTRODUCTION

Speech and writing are not alternative processes in the act of communication, in fact, speech came first in the history of mankind by some millions of years, and it also comes first in our history as individuals, whereas writing tends to be used for more formal purposes. The fact that speech is done unconsciously does not mean that it is less important, on the contrary, much of our social relationship comes through spoken interaction, and the social role we may have before other people at work, with friends etc… will very much depend on our oral skills and on our command of language.

1.1. Acquisition vs Learning

Krahen was the first to draw a distinction between acquisition and learning in his Monitor Hypothesis.

1. Acquisition occurs automatically when the learner´s focus is on meaning and where there is a comprehensible input. It’s an unconcious process and consists of L2 rules the learner can call upon automatically.

2. Learning occurs as a result of formal study where the learner is focused on the formal properties of the L2. learning is a concious process and consists in metalinguistic knowledge which can only be used to monitor output generated by means of acquired knowledge. It doesn’t necessarily end in acquisition.

1.2. History

1.2.1. Rhethoricians

Rhethoricians, in the classical age, were very interested in the use of spoken language, however they dealt with prepared and formal language, they weren’t interested in the spontaneos oral language.

1.2.2. Grammar Translation method

The Grammar Translation method was used until 1940 and its main characteristics were:

1. Textbooks consisted of statements of abstract rules, lists of vocabulary and sentences.

2. Students worked on the traslation of sentences which weren’t necessarily connected to everyday reality.

3. Oral work was reduced to a minimum. The main focus is oo writing and reading.

4. Textbooks organised contents around lessons whose core was a given grammar point.

5. The sentence is the basic unit of teaching and language practice.

6. Accuracy is emphasised

7. Grammar is taught deductively

8. The student’s native language is the emdium of instruction.

1.2.3. Saussure

Saussure was the first one to study spoken language. In fact he said that there were two different systems: written and spoken. Before Saussure, spoken language was considered a formless and featureless variety of written language

1.2.4. McCarthy

He was interested in genres, types of spoken language. There are many written texts and he studied language in terms of genres, which can be idintified and taught in L2:

· Story- telling

· Shop transactions

· Reporting

· Gossip

He also differenciated between the interactional talk and the transactional talk: establishing a sort of social interaction (we tend to teach our student a type of spoken language which is not very commonly spoken: in the market,…so this is important for our students.

1.2.5. Firth

We seem to have a fine ear for the tone with which people say things to us, but a very bad memory for the actual things that people say. Firth was one of the first scholars who urged people to study conversation in 1935, in opposition to the current formalistic approach to language at the time (the mentalistic approach led by Bloomfield):

The tradition started by Firth and his followers, Halliday being the most representative one, has tried to show that speech is not a formless and featureless variety of written language, as it was thought to be. As a matter of fact, since then there has been an increasing interest in the study of spoken language both from the purely linguistic point of view, i.c. the study of intonation (Halliday, Crystal, Cruttenden, etc…); as well as from the social point of view, e.g. ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, discourse analysis etc…

For Firth, language is a part of behaviour: whenever you talk, you are having things done, and whatever you say is part of your behaviour: shake hands…

2. LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE

The main feature we can observe in written language is precisely the fact that we can see it. We can see the beginning and the end of a text. We can see its organisation, thanks to punctuation marks, chapter and paragraph division, etc… Therefore, when we think of the study of language we iminediately think of language in terms of the result of a creative process which has reached a final, perfect cnd. However, we will concentrate on the study of spoken language, its organisation, its routines, its constraints.

2.1. Prepared vs Spontaneous

2.1.1. Prepared language:

It has to do with the classical orators: even if what they taught was to speak, this language was very much prepared: rhetoric.

It’s organised as if it were written language. The reason is that it is conceived to be spoken in formal settings, and therefore it keeps typical features of that variety in terms of syntax, lexis, discourse organisation, etc… Typical activities of prepared speech are for example: lectures, poetry reading, etc…. In this variety of spoken language the speaker is producing speech which has been prepared, either memorised or written down, before the act of speaking. Therefore, this kind of speech bears little similarity with the typical features of spontaneous spoken language.

2.1.2. Spontaneous speech:

Unprepared speech is the main form of communication in society. Its main feature is that the speaker has not thought about his message beforehand, at least in terms of its surface form. Therefore, it suffers from all he difficulties which influencc human interaction:

1. False starts:

2. Hesitation: This is due to the linear nature of speech: once an expression is uttered, there is no other way to redress the incorrect bit unless by making use of either non-vocal expressions (hesitations and silences) or vocal expressions (some discourse markers ike ‘I mean, you know,…’). The speaker, knowing unconsciously the ‘linearity problem’ of speech can use these elements prospectively, i.e., when looking for the appropiate following word or expression; or retrospectively, i.e. when correcting a wrong element uttered before. So, hesitation leads us to the use of fillers

3. Changes of plan: Mutability in a conversation is a natural fact for everybody. Arguments are typical situations in which people often blame each other for things which were or were not said and which were understood in the wrong way:

4. Mistakes: there are many mistakes and inaccuracies, either grammatical or lexical.

2.2. Paralinguistic features of spoken language

In spoken language, the speaker does not only resort to the linguistic elements to express meaning, but there are also a full range of paralinguistic features which support the basic meaning conveyed by the utterance.

· Quality of the voice

· Intonation contour,

· Pitch changes,

· facial expression, posture and gesture, microsignals: language is behaviour. Body language is also a part of language and of behaviour. Microsignals are body language microsignals, that is, signs we make unconciously. However, the leistener perceives them even if unconciously aswell.

All these features make spoken language much more meaningful for communication, but at the same time they make it much more complex, both in the encoding as in the decoding process. This aspect is especially difficult in inter-cultural communication where the speakers are not aware of the social rules governing each other’s linguistic exchange.

2.3. Syntactic features of spoken language

2.3.1. A spoken language grammar? McCarthy

McCarthey in his CANCODE project questiones whether there is or not a grammaar for spoken languages, as there are many characteristics which differenciate it from written language.in fact, there are many common things in spoken language that you wouln’t write down.the main featuresbof syntax in oral discourse are the following:

2.3.2. incomplete sentences:

Spoken language contains many incomplete sentences, often simply sequences of phrases; e.g.: ‘like it?

2.3.3. Subordination avoided:

Spoken language typically contains rather little subordination: most of the linking between clauses are made with ‘and, or, but, etc…,

2.3.4. Active-comment:

-active declarative forms are usually more frequent than passive forms.

2.3.5. Highlighting:

Highlighting in speech comes by placing the most important stress of the message, the tonic, in the most informative element.

Jane phoned me (oral language)→it was me to whom Jane phoned (written language).

Jane phoned me (oral language) →what she did was phone me (written language).

There are completely different realizations in written language.to represent it in written language you can use italics or highlight it.

2.3.6. Topic-comment structure:

It consists of highlighting the most important communicative element of the message. This can be achieved by the use of some syntactic constructions such as left-dislocation, fronting, cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences. This is very much related to Halliday’s Theme and Rheme, quite similar to given and new.

Patty likes computers: written language

Patty, he likes computers: more often used in spoken language.

2.3.7. Context dependence:

There’s a lot of shared knowledge between two people who are communicating (exophoric references). The speaker may rely on devices such as gaze direction to supply a referent. For example when looking at the rain:

frightful, isn’t it?

2.3.8. Progress refinement of expression:

The speaker my replace or refine expressions as he goes along in order to adapt better to the context or to the formaity of the exchange: e.g.

this chap.. this man she was going out with.

2.3.9. Repettition:

The speaker frequently repeats the same syntactic form several times with less use of conjunctions:

I looked at fire extinguishers, i looked at fire exits, I looked at what gangways are available, I looked at electric cables….

2.3.10. Fillers:

The speaker usually produces a large number of prefabricated ‘fillers’:

well, erm, I think, you know, if you see what I mean, of course, and so on,…’

2.4. Lexical features of spoken Ianguage

The lexical features of spoken language were regarded as the most characteristic ones in comparison with written language.

1. Less sophisticated vocabulary: the lexical iterms used by speakers aree more limited than the ones typically used in the written language, as you don’t have the time to think or to prepare it: buy instead of purchase, etc…

2. talk-only words: Frequent use of rather generalised vocabulary which would be unacceptable in the written mode: ‘his place, oops, thing, nice, stuff, place,…etc.

3. concept of “lexical density”: the density with which the information is presented in terms of the ratio between lexical and grammatical items. Oral texts have a lower proportion of lexical items because the elements are presented only once and, therefore, the hearer has to be given sorne time to process the information.

3. ERUING GOFFMAN’S CONSTRANT

3.1. Main works

Goffman is not a linguist, he is a sociologist (?) but he studies language as a part of behaviour. His most important works are:

· The presentation of self in everyday life deals with dramaturgy, that is, you try to produce a good image of yourself when you are talking, you mind you behaviour.

· Frame analysis: it deals with the social rituals observed in conversation.

3.2. System and Ritual Constraints.

· System constraints: the difficulties which affect the basic components of all communication systems.

· -Ritual constraints: the difficulties that influence the social features that smooth social interaction and make it easier for the participants in a communicative event.

These two constraints help the process of communication and provide a systematic framework for the description of language, since we are able to observe the result of these constraints in the linguistic exchange, and therefore, appreciate how relevant these difficulties may be for the speaker or hearer.

3.2.1. System Constraints

There are eight system constraints that Goffman claimed to be universal in all human communication.

3.2.1.1. Channel open/close signals

It’s the same as the phatic fuction. In all communication systems there are ways to show that communication is about to begin, and ways to show that it is about to end. These channel open/close signals will differ according to the channel (e.g. phone calls, letters, meetings, classrooms).

These signals may be

· ‘non-verbal’, for example when the teacher knocks on the table to get the students’ attention;

· ‘verbal’ by using formulae such as ‘can I help you?’ (at a shop),

These so called ‘routines’ depend on sociolinguistic factors such as:

· the degree of intimacy with the other speakers,

· the cultural habits of the linguistic community;

· the degree of formality required for the situation.

3.2.1.2. Backchannel signals

Signals which indicate that the message is getting through, that the addressee is fully aware of the meaning being transmitted by the speaker. These signals can be

· Paralinguistic: eye-contact, head nods, smiles,

· linguistic: ‘uhms’, ‘yeahs’, etc…

These signals show that the listener is following the message and they encourage the speaker to continue on the same track in the development of his ideas.

Teachers tend to use these signals to show the students that what they are doing is correct, for example with elements such as ‘good, OK, etc…’. This organisation of turns which takes place in formal instruction is exceptional, as in daily communication we do not obtain reinforcement for our participation.

The actual verbal or non-verbal forms we use to signal message reception differ according to the setting.

3.2.1.3. Turnover signals

Set of signals that allows for a exchange of turns. Sometimes these signals are ritualised, but in any case, they have to be perfectly recognisable. Some of these signals are: slowing down the tempo of speech, vowel elongation, falling intonation, etc…

Even though turns are usually clearly changed, sometimes overlaps appear. Overlaps are different from interruptions, because the former show alignment with the speakcr, and the latter show disagreement with his opinions. This is why overlaps are usually placed so as not to interfere with the content of the message, and they may even fit at a syntactic boundary, for example between the end of a clause and a question tag.

A change in gaze direction or a physical movement may indicate the end of a turn. In family conversations or conversations among close friends, overlaps are almost permanent. However, more formal interactions keep a rather fixed order in the turn-taking system. Informal conversations tend to have shorter turns, whereas formal ones tend to have longer turns and allow for fewer chances to speak.

3.2.1.4. Acoustically adequate and interpretable messages

It consists in making up for breakdowns in communication, that is, it’s equivalent to Canale and Swain’s estrategic competence.

The question is: ‘what is a clear message?, how clear must messages be to be interpretable?’ In most cases the answer to these questions has much to do with the specific register being used in the interaction.

This is the reason why there are varieties of registers according to the participants: ‘teacher talk (talk to students), foreigner talk (to foreigners), baby talk (to young children), etc…’

3.2.1.5. Bracket signals or side sequences

These signals make the listener be attentive to a topic which cannot be dealt with at the moment but will be picked up later on. Some elements which introduce brackets are for example: ‘by the way, incidentally, well, anyway’, etc…

Sometimes we forget where we picked up the side sequences and we use formulae such as: ‘why am I mentioning this?, how did I get on this?’ in order to restart our previous discourse. It is at these points where other speakers may interrupt and start talking. creating a complex net of side-sequences which are left without proper discussion.

3.2.1.6. Nonparticipant constraints

There can be nonparticipant noise or interference which may be due to external noise or to other people’s voices.

Likewise, the situation can be that we want to engage in a conversation that is already under way. There are be signals that indicate the possibihity to enter or not the discussion.

We see in the classroom when a student wants to intervene by raising his hand. The opposite, i.e. avoiding entering discussion, can be achieved for example by avoiding eye-contact.

3.2.1.7. Preempt signals

The ways for participants have to interrupt an-ongoing message when they want to disagree, or add more information. Interruptions are often felt to be impolite in most situations: ‘excuse me, oh, hold on, etc…’.

3.2.1.8. Gricean norms for communication

Grice talks about the ‘cooperative principle’: a communicative rule by which the speakers overcome all the possible misfits in the communication process in order to arrive at a good final result.

This principle is formed by the four ‘maxims of conversation’:

Relevance:

The speaker has to make a contribution relevant to the topic. Fo example:

A. Do you like coffee?

B. I like your dress

Quality:

The contribution must be true. If this maxim is flouted it isnormally for sarcastic effects.

Quantity:

Be brief and orderly: do not exceed the time in your turn, and do not use pompous rhetorical words to say what can be say in simple terms.

Manner:

Be clear, avoid obscurity and ambiguity of expression: try to explain things as clearly as you can, do not use euphemistic terms or expressions with a hidden meaning.

All these maxims are important for effective communication and the flouting (the term used to indicate violation of the maxims) of any of them will create misfits in the interaction exchange.

3.2.2. Ritual constraints

They complement the system constraints from the social point of view by verbalising the cultural features that characterise human interaction.

4. CONCLUSIONS

In this unit we have studied the routines that characterise spoken language from the syntactic, lexical and social point of view. We have also seen the constraints that affect the system of speech in orden to understand the mechanisms that influence communication between speakers.


5. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, G. & Yule, G. (1983) Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: C.U.P.

Halliday, MAK. (1985) Spoken and Written Language. Victoria: Deakin University.

Hatch, E. (1992) Discourse and Language Education. Cambridge: C.U.P.


6. TOPIC-BASED UNIT

6.1. Introduction

6.1.1. Option and Justification

We have opted for option number 1 for we think it’s the best way to show the scientific aspects of the topic can be exploited in the context with a real class and with real students.

6.1.2. Connection with the official curriculum

Our ‘Proyecto Educativo del Centro’ states that:

‘Modern languages make a twofold contribution to the curriculum in providing linguistic/literary experience as well as human/social experience. Underlying these there is a fundamental aim of enabling learners of foreign languages to understand the foreign languages for effective communication’.

With regard to unit 5, the general objectives of area that we expect to exploit are the following:

1. Our students must be aware of the great richness of spoken language, not only in terms of specific linguistic resources, like emphasis and intonation, but also in terms of paralinguistic elements such as gestures, body posture etc…

2. Our students must be aware that the competent speaker uses all these resources available in all communicative situations.

3. our students must reflect upon language.

6.1.3. Our school and our students

Our school is situated in a middle class neighbourhood and our pupils’ parents show concern for their sons’ and daughters’ future, valuating education highly.

Our pupils are now studying second of BUP/4th. of ESO. They are now 15 and in the stage Piaget termed as ‘formal operational’. Our pupils can think abstractly, solve logical problems and follow the scientific method.

Our pupils also show a tendency called adolescent egocentrism. They tend to think that they are more important and unusual than they really are.

6.2. Working Plan

6.2.1. Materials

Text.

6.2.2. Specific objectives.

1. Our students must be able to appreciate the richness of spoken language

2. Be able to reproduce natural spoken texts in appropiate fashion.

6.2.3. Contents
6.2.3.1. Concepts

Our pupils must learn the main features of spoken language in comparison with the written one. They will study the typical routines, and the usual verbal realisations of the English language in social life.

6.2.3.2. Procedures

· Grouping: individual work and in pairs

· Skills: transform written texts into spoken ones by making the appropiate changes in syntax, lexis, etc…

· Activities: reading for global understanding, writing a dialogue following some patterns, speaking.

6.2.3.3. Attitudes

1. To be aware of the great importance of being able to communicate orally in a foreign language.

2. To have a positive attitude towards alssroom work.

3. To have apositive attitude toward thetarget language.

6.3. TEACHING LEARNING ACTIVITIES

1. They have to read a text which accurately describes the meeting of two friends who have not seen each other for the past ten years. In this text we can see some of the usual routines of encounters of this kind: asking about jobs, about the family, etc… We will make sure that the students understand all the vocabulary, the syntactic structures and the situation in which the text is embedded.

2. Work with the text and write it down folowing the next steps:

· Divide the text according to the main communicative sections you can find: greetings, personal questions, etc…

· Classify the information that each speaker provides about his/her hife in the last years.

· Give turns of talk in which you include little information in each turn.

· Include in the turns some of the words which are used to show surprise, shame, hesitation of what to say, etc…

· Write down the whole dialogue, it will be much longer than the descriptive passage, and practise it with your partner.

· Add sorne of the parahínguistic information, gestures, which you think should accompany the spoken version.

3. Finally, the students should practise the dialogue in pairs keeping in mind all the aspects studied above.

6.4. ASSESSMENT. FOLLOW-UP AND REMEDIAL PROCEDURES

Our methodological approach states quite firmly that the teacher must be involved as a participant and must also watch and listen very carefully in order to be able to conduct feedback. This involvement should enable us to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of our pupils. Based on this evaluation we suggest the following follow-up and remedial procedures:

1. costant feedback

2. acting out (dialogue)

3. Find formal and colloquial forms to describe channel open and close signals, as well as turn-over signals. Make a short dialogue with each of the forms.

4. Imagine you have to write a cornmercial for T.V. Make a description of the ritual constraints you have to take into account before writing the text.


ESQUEMA UNIDAD 5.

1. LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE

1.1. Introduction

We live in a literate society in which language is an important element in education.

Speech and writing are not alternative processes in communication.

It is important that we reflect on the organisation of speech.

1.1.1. Learnning vs acquisition: Krashen
1.1.2. History:

· Rhetoricians

· G.T. Method

· Saussure

· McCarty

· Firth

1.2. Linguistic features of spoken language

1.2.1. Prepared vs Spontaneous
1.2.1.1. Prepared speech

That which is prepared before the moment of speaking: rhetoricians

1.2.1.2. Unprepared or Spontaneous speech

That which occurs naturally in daily communication

1.2.2. Paralinguistic features of spoken language

· Intonation, body posture

· voice

· Speaker-hearer mutual understanding

1.2.3. Syntactic features of spoken language

· A spoken language grammar?McCarthy.

· Incomplete sentences

· Lack of subordination

· Few passives

· Topic-comment structure

· Prosodic emphasis

· Repetition of structures

· Fillers

1.2.4. Lexical features of spoken language

· General vocabulary, less sophisticated

· Talk-only words.

· The concept of lexical density

1.3. ERUIN GOFFMAN´S CONSTRAINTS

1.3.1. Main works:

The presentation of self in everybody life and Frame analysis.

1.3.2. System and Ritual constraints

The difficulties affecting all communication systems

1.3.2.1. System constraints:
Channel open/close signals

The ways to start and finish a conversation

Backchannel signals

The ways to show that communication is getting through

Turnover signals

The ways to show that another speaker can take the floor

Acoustically adequate and interpretable messages

Messages must be acoustically identifiable

Bracket signals or side-sequences

The ways to leave non-relevant topics aside

Nonparticipant constraints

The ways to exclude nonparticipant interruptions in the conversation

Preempt signals

The ways to interrupt an ongoing message

Gricean norms for cornmunication

– Manner, quality, quantity and relevance

1.3.2.2. Ritual constraints

The particular constraints which depend on each language and which affect the systems of communication.

MAGISTER

OPOSICIONES AL PROFESORADO

CUESTIONES BASICAS TEMA 5

1. Can you describe the different kinds of spoken language?

2. Can you describe the syntactíc features of spoken language?

3. Can you define the concept of system and ritual constraints?

4. Can you define Grice’s maxims of communication?

5. Can you explain the notion of lexical density?

CUESTIONES BASICAS TEMA 5: RESPUESTAS

1. Different kinds of spoken Ianguage:

Spoken language has been traditionally regarded as a kind of second-class form of language with no clear organisation. However this is not the case, and when trying to describe spoken language we must differentiate between the fohlowing: prepared and unprepared or spontaneous speech.

Prepared speech

The first kind of speech is organised as if it were written language. The reason is that it is conceived to be spoken in formal settings, and therefore it keeps typical of that variety in terms of syntax, lexis, discourse organisation, etc… Typical activities of prepared speech are for example: lectures, poetry reading, etc…. In this variety of spoken language the speaker is producing speech which has been prepared, either memorised or written down, before the act of speaking. Therefore, this kind of speech bears little similarity with the typical features of spontaneous spoken language that are explained below.

The fact that prepared speech is lexicahly and syntactically very similar to written language (cf. see unit 6), is a clear fact of how language can also be identified in terms of internal rather than external features, i.e. speaking vs. writing; prepared vs. unprepared.

Unprepared or Spontaneous speech

Unprepared speech is the main form of communication in society. Its main feature is that the speaker has not thought about his/her message beforehand, at least in tenns of its surface form. Therefore, it suffers from (or enjoys) ah the difficulties which influence human interaction:

there are many mistakes and inaccuracies, either grammatical or lexical, sentences are usually brief and the whole fabric of verbal expressions is riddled with hesitations and silences:

Ibis enormous appearance of hesitatíons and silences is due to the linear nature of speech, in other words, once an expression is uttered, there is no other way to redress the incorrect bit unless by making use of either non-vocal expressions (hesitations and silences) or vocal expressions (sorne discourse markers like ‘1 mean, you know,…’).

The speaker, knowing unconsciously the so cahled ‘linearity problem’ of speech can use these elements prospectively, i.e., when looking for the appropiate following word or expression; or retrospectively, i.e. when correcting a wrong element uttered before.

On the whole, the study of language should be mainly concemed with the analysis of this form of spoken language, because it shows the direct translation of thoughts into words depending

on the communicative demands of the situation and addressee. Moreover, this approach enables the hínguist to understand the nature of Ianguage in direct relationship with the psycholinguistic features of the verbalisation process.

2. Svntactic features of spoken Ianguage

Traditionally, spoken language has been regarded as the spoken version of written texts terms of syntax. That is why literaiy texts which attempted to show oral discourse often failed to represent it accurately, since authors thought that the intrinsic difference between the two forms of communication lay in the lexical field. However, recent research has shown that spoken language has different syntactic patterns in many respects. The main features of syntax in oral discourse are the following:

– Spoken language contains many incomplete sentences, often simply sequences of phrases; e.g.: ‘1 want to, could it be possible…?

– Spoken language typically contains rather little subordination; in other words, most of the linking between clauses are made with ‘and, or, but, etc…’

– In conversational speech, in the cases in which it is possible to find regular syntactic structures, active declarative forms are usually more frequent than passive forms.

– In spoken -~anguage it is quite common to find the so called ‘topic-comment structure’. In other words, the speaker will highlight the most important communicative element of the message: e.g. ‘the cats, did you let them out?’ This topic-comment structure can be achieved by the use of sorne syntactic constructions such as left-dislocation, fronting, cleft and pseudo-cleft sentences.

– Highlighting in speech will also come by placing the most important stress, the tonic, of the message in the most informative element.

– In informal speech, the occurrence of passive constructions is relatively infrequent. That use of the passive in written language which allows non-attribution of agency is typically absent from conversational speech. Instead, active constructions with indeterminate group agents are noticeable, as in:

e.g. ‘Oh everything they do in Edinburgh… they do it far too slowly’.

– In chat about the immediate environment, the speaker may rely on devices such as gaze

direction to supply a referent. For example when lookíng at the ram ‘fríghtful, isn’t it?’

– The speaker my replace or refine expressions as he goes along in order to adapt better

to the context of situation or to the formality of the exchange: e.g. ‘this ….. .this man

she was going out with’.

– The speaker frequently repeats the same syntactic form several times over, as for

example in: ‘1 Iooked at fire extinguishers, 1 looked at fire exits, 1 looked at what

gangways are available, 1 looked at electric cables….’

– The speaker usually produces a large number of prefabricated ‘fillers’, as for example:

‘well, erm, 1 think, you know, if you see what 1 mean, of course, and so on,…’

3. Describe ritual and svstem constraints

It has been proved that ah kinds of human communication suffer from a given set of ‘universal constraints’ that affect ah languages. Each language, of course, will differ in the attempt to overcome these constraints and wihl always have to keep on improving the mechanisms to achieve clear communication. Many of the constraints will often depend on the conimunication channel which is being used at each moment, it is not the same the possible difficulties which affect a telephone conversation and the instructions of the couch to the rugby players.

Goffman (1976) divided these communication constraints into two types:

– System constraints: the difficulties which affect the basic components required for

ah communication systems.

– Ritual constraints: the difticulties that influence the social features that smooth

social interaction and make ‘it easier for the participants in a communícative event.

Despite what it may seem at first sight, these two constraints help, rather than hinder, the process of communication and provide a systernatic framework for the description of Ianguage, since we are able to observe the result of these constraints in the hinguistic exchange, and therefore, appreciate how relevant these difficulties may be for the speaker or hearer.

4. Grice’s maxims of communication

* Relevance: the speaker has to make a contribution relevant to the topic. For example:

A. Do you hike coffee?

B. 1 hike your dress

The speakers wihl always try to make messages cohere with the surrounding discourse., otherwise, communication fails with no possible redress.

* Quahity: make your contribution one that is true. If this maxim is flouted it is

normahly for sarcastic effects.

* Quantity: be brief and orderly, i.e., do not exceed the ahloted time in your turn,

– and do not use pompous rhetorical words to say what can be say in simple terms.

* Manner: be clear, avoid obscurity and ambiguity of expression, i.e. try to explain

things as clearly as you can, do not use euphemistic terms or expressions with a hidden meaning.

Alh these maxims are important for effective communication and the flouting (the term used to indicate violation of the maxims) of any of thern will create misfits in the interaction exchange.

5. Can you explain the notion of lexical densitv?

Hahliday described the notion of ‘lexical density’ as the density with which the information

is presented in terms of the ratio between lexical and grammatical words.

In other words, the information that the speaker wants to convey could hypotheticahly be expressed only by the semantically relevant elements, e.g. ‘want more food’. However, in normal interaction the basic inforrnation is conveyed with a more complex construction which often involves the use of grammatical items: e.g. ‘1 would hike sorne more food’.

This process can be observed in children learning how to speak, who often leave out the grammatical ehements, or for example in emer~ency situations in which linguistic economy is essentiah, e.g. ‘accident road 345’. The way to obtain the rate of hexical density in a text is by dividing the nurnber of lexical items by the whole number of running items in that piece of discourse.

Publicado: marzo 13, 2019 por Laura Gonzalez

Etiquetas: tema 5 inglés secundaria