Lessons 11-20 handouts & reading material lessons 11-20

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Lessons 11-20





  1. The characteristics of speech and writing

  2. Transaction and interaction

  3. The machinery of speech

  4. Cooperation, politeness and face

  5. Special conversations

  6. Discourse topic and organisation

  7. Discourse and gender

  8. Revision and mock exam

  9. Final exam – Lunedi 15 Dicembre ore 12.00

  10. Giving back exam

prof Hugo Bowles

facolta’ di Lettere, Universita’ di Roma “Tor Vergata”, LLEM

Module 2 – English discourse analysis
Lesson 11 MODULE 2


1. Look at these transcripts. Identify the participants (sex, age) and a possible context for each:

Conversation 1

A they’re going to pay the children to stay at school – did you hear about that?

B no – really

A uhm + that’s the news today + it’s a trial thing

B paying them to stay at school – whatever next

C astonishing isn’t it

Conversation 2

A I remember very vaguely

B oh I remember that

A my mother was saying + sit and watch this + this is history

B oh + yes it was history right enough

Conversation 3

A were you watching TV last night + I put up with it + I wouldn’t say I watched it + did you watch it on Saturday

B I watched it on Saturday

A Did you see the supporters – their own supporters + were booing them

B Yes + they were booing them

Conversation 4

A and she goes up north and takes eh + recordings of singing

B ah – yes + that’s lovely

Conversation 5

A there was no ele + there was no electricity and there were trees and everything all over the road + and it was really quite frightening

B terrible + really terrible

b. What are the characteristics of speech in these oral texts that you would not find in a written text

2. Identify the characteristics of speech from the Shakespeare in Love extract (Lesson on Deixis)

Comparing speech and writing

Specch or writing?

Answer machine message

Blackmail note

Car maintenance manual

Conversation about weather


Hijacker’s threat


Internet chat

Job interview

News broadcast

Newspaper article

Office memo

Personal diary entry

Personal statement for university application

Presidential address

Telephone banking

A. Transient vs. permanent

college report note on fridge door conversation recorded political speech

B. Formal vs. informal

email to friend oral presentation phone call essay

C. Interactive vs. non-interactive

SMS poster chat lecture

D. Context-dependent vs. non con text-dependent

fictional work oral directions instruction leaflet poetry recital


  1. All writing is permanent. All speech is temporary.

  2. All writing is formal. All speech is informal.

  3. Writing is one-way. Speech is interactive.

  4. All texts depend on contexts to the same degree.


I = Interviewer L = Louise

I: right Louise when did you (.) first go to


L: er late September (.) 99

I: right and (.) you’re living (.) with (.) people from a lot of different areas

L: yeah that’s right

I: how many and where do they come from

L: um there’s 19 (.) people including me there’s (.) one girl from London

I: mm

L: 2 people from up north in Leeds (.) there’s um a couple of South Africans, German, French um what else Americans

I: any more from from Britain

L: er some people (.) lived abroad (.) and then moved back to Britain so there’s probably about 4

I: right and

L: altogether

L: did you notice anything about your accent changing or did they notice anything about your accent when you … did you … did it come up at all

L: they teased me for being an Essex (inaudible – laughter) Essex accent

I: yeah

L: certain things I say but

I: wha what sort of things do you remember what they teased you about

L: um the way (.) I end things

I: right

L: I can’t think of any other word but other than the word flabby they would like flabbay sort of thing

I: so they they mimicked you and

L: yeah

I: and you laughed about it

L: yeah

I: right

L: I joked about their accents as well (inaudible) I suppose (.) pronounce things more clearly

I: mm

L: because especially the Americans, they didn’t understand what you were saying and the Germans as well so you had to

I: right

L: pronounce things so slight difference

I: yeah

L: that way I suppose

I: and and when when they teased you, did you make any conscious effort to change how you spoke

L: no

I: no so you think

L: no it was it was only friendly

I: yeah yeah so you think you speak the same as you did before you left

L: no (laughs)

I: what how do you think its changed

L: um its more (.) I don’t know more properly spoken I suppose clearer

I: and you’ve done that because they didn’t understand you particularly

L: yeah and yeah I suppose so

I: and were you aware when you came home from being in London that um Mum or anybody else noticed that you spoke differently

L: yeah

I: what what did they say to you

L: they said you’ve got your North London voice on.

I: but you weren’t aware of any difference or did you notice yourself

L: I noticed that I started going back into more sort of um … what’s the word I don’t know but like you go in this ouse you know sort of thing a bit more Essexy I suppose.

I lived in Essex for most of my life, until I moved to London approximately 8 months ago, in order to attend university. Since then I (and other people) have noticed a change in the way I talk. My house in London is home to 19 people, who come from all over the world (e.g. USA, South Africa, Germany, Israel, Botswana etc.) and have varying accents. At first I, like the others, was teased about my accent and pronunciation (in a friendly way). For instance, pronouncing house as owse and happy as happieeeee! After a while, though, the differences in speech seemed to be unimportant, and the teasing for all members in the house fizzled out. When I returned to Essex the teasing returned. I was told by my family that my manner of speaking resembled a posh North London schoolgirl! This I disagree with, thinking instead that it is actually a combination of the accents from the people with whom I live (i.e. a worldwide accent!).

Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, pp.14-19



1. a. Identify the speakers and the context in the following conversations

Conversation 1 Conversation 2

A no, what you do is put the garlic in first A been so cold recently hasn’t it?

B oh, I see B yeah + never seems to stop does it?

A so the flavour is sharper, see?

B right

Conversation 3

A always late, these buses

B yeah every time always late you never know whether they’re going to come do you

A no
b. Identify the characteristics of speech in the conversations
c. What is the function of each conversation?


a. Identify the speakers and the contexts in these conversations.

b. Identify the characteristics of speech

Conversation 4 Conversation 5

A she’s been really ill you know A yes?

B oh I am sorry B errm … I’d like to open a new

A yes can’t even get out of bed account … er … and I was

B oh dear poor thing + how does she manage wondering …

A it’s her heart you know + palpitations A well first of all you should fill in

B oh this form …

Conversation 6

A so how many times a day?

B three would be fine

A after meals?

B well between meals is best really

A ok right

b. Are they mainly transactional or mainly interactional? Identify the transactional and interactional parts of each conversation.

In each conversation, mark I for interactional speech and T for transactional

Conversation 7

  • Identify the context for this text

  • Identify the characteristics of speech which it shows

  • Identify the areas of transactional and interactional speech

ELIZABETH: um is that coleslaw in ELIZABETH: can I have a cup of

the middle there? coffee as well?

ASSISTANT: it is yes ASSISTANT: with milk?

ELIZABETH: I’ll have that then ELIZABETH: please yes I do (.)

please. I do like scones (.)

JENNY: I’ll have a bread roll it’s my treat on Friday

please (.) got to have to have a scone thank

bread haven’t I? you we’ll come back for

ELIZABETH: (laughs) that’s lovely pudding shall we?

thank you JENNY: yeah

Conversation 8

Identify the transactional and interactional elements of this conversation:

L: I love this dance

D: Indeed. Most invigorating.

L: It’s your turn to say something, Mr Darcy. I talked about the dance. Now you ought to remark on the size of the room or the number of couples.

D: I’m perfectly happy to oblige. What would you most like to hear?

L: That reply will do for present. Perhaps by and by I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. For now, we may remain silent.

D: Do you talk as a rule while dancing?

L: No, no. I prefer to be unsociable and taciturn. Makes it all so much more enjoyable, don’t you think.

D: Tell me do you and your sisters very often walk to Meryton?

L: Yes, we often walk to Meryton. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people. When you met us we’d just had the pleasure of forming a new acquaintance.

D: Mr Wickham’s blessed with such happy manners. He’s sure of making friends. Whether he’s capable of retaining them is less so.

L: He’s been so unsociable as to lose your friendship. Is that irreversible?

D: It is. Why do you ask such a question?

L: To make out your character, Mr Darcy.

D: What have you discovered?

L: Very little. I learn such different accounts of you as puzzle me exceedingly.

D: I hope to afford you more clarity in the future.


Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, pp.1-4

1. Read this conversation. Does it look like a normal conversation?

A is sitting down writing a letter in Mrs B’s sitting room. Mr C arrives unexpectedly

Miss A: Mr C! Please do be seated. I’m afraid Mr and Mrs B have gone

on business to the village.

Mr C: This is a charming house. I believe my aunt did a great deal to it when Mr

B first arrived.

Miss A: I believe so. She could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful

subject. Shall I call for some tea?

Mr C: No, thank you. (The front door is opened)

Good day Miss A, it’s been a pleasure.

(Mr C leaves)

Mrs B: What on earth have you done to poor Mr C?

Miss A: I have no idea.

What has Miss A “done to poor Mr C”?

Is she right to say “I have no idea”?

2. Can you think of a context in which these conversations might be possible:
A: Hello

B: Goodbye

A: Did you go out with John last night?

B: Why are you asking?

A: Why do you think I’m asking?
A: What do you think of this?

B: Is that the time? I must go.

A: Your supper’s ready?

B: ( )

A: Did you hear what I said?

B: ( )

A: Answer me, will you?
A: Shall I wear the blue shoes?

B: You’ve got the black ones

A: They’re not comfortable

B: Yeah, they’re the best then, wear the blue ones

A: and she didn’t she didn’t like Katie she didn’t ge(t on with Katie at all )

B: (no she didn’t get on with ) Katie

A: I was thinking we could have fish?

B: fine

C: well actually (.) I’ve stopped eating fish now because of you know the damage it does to the ocean


Cameron, Working with spoken discourse, pp.87-105

1. A: Will you condemn the violence on the picket lines

B: I condemn the police and the National Coal Board.

2. A: I’m tired

B: There’s the Leonardo Hotel.

3. A: When was your first sexual experience?

B: What lovely weather we’re having.

4. A: Could you pass the salt please?

B: Could you give me £100 please?

5. Put these in order of politeness:

a. Could you move over please?

b. I’m sorry but I wonder if I could ask you to move over a bit?

c. It’s very windy here.

d. Move!

e. Please move.

f. Can we move please?
6. A student is revising for an exam in the classroom. She hears noises outside and opens the door. This is what she might say:

a. Please could you stop talking I’m trying to work.

b. Shut up, will you?

c. Hey, I’ve got an exam to study for. Is there somewhere else you could talk?

d. Oh, sorry. I heard voices and wondered who it was.

In each case who might the student be speaking to?

7. Compare:

Guest: This food is delicious

Host: a) yes, it is b) I’m afraid it’s a bit overcooked c) I’m glad you like it
8. What kind of face are the following comments challenging?

a. Don’t do that!

b. You pig!

c. Don’t do that, you pig!


Look at the conversation between James and Simon

a. At what point in the conversation does the tutor, Simon, offer James criticism of his work?

b. How does Simon attempt to qualify his criticism?

c. How does Simon attempt throughout the conversation to reassure James?

d. Does either of the two dominate the conversation?

10. Look at the conversation between Mum and Ruksana

a. Who is being uncooperative – Mum or Ruksana, or both?

b. Whatis the evidence here for lack of cooperation?


Cameron, Working with spoken discourse, pp.75-83

Pridham, The Language of Conversation, pp.52-54

James and Simon

SIMON: right erm (.) well I (.) there’s a lot in these er (.)stories I think they kind of they’re the kind of thing that would go well in the (.) in the portfolio erm. (.) and I like Canal for instance

JAMES: yeah I’ve rewritten it erm (.)

SIMON: yeah

JAMES: ‘cos I wasn’t happy with it i’ve been trying to write in a more quick style I’ve

SIMON: yeah

JAMES: been a bit too influenced by reading loads of american people I realise I don’t like the style (.) it’s over sentimental and too er detailed (.) and I wanted to get back to a more clipped european style

SIMON: yeah

JAMES: and that

SIMON: yeah

JAMES: so I’ve sort of reworked it to get it more er

SIMON: oh right yeah

JAMES: I don’t want anything that isn’t meant to be there I want it to be efficient

SIMON: well

JAMES (laughter)

SIMON: I think that might be good if you wanted to bring in the one that you wanted

JAMES: which I’m pleased with

SIMON: which you’re pleased with

JAMES: yeah (.)

SIMON: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it particularly. I mean (.) I think

JAMES: but I just think

SIMON: I mean I think well certainly the stories are kind of good enough to go into the portfolio.

JAMES: yeah

SIMON: I think (.) I’m trying to remember which one it was there’s one where you kind of erm I think it occasionally you’re going for something like the idea is you’re going to have a clever remark er somewhere in it

JAMES: umm

SIMON: erm erm I think er like that kind of (.) sometimes (.) stops the poetry the the story from being (.) quite as effective.

JAMES: you mean that at the end or just anywhere

SIMON: well (.) I think (.) erm (long pause while tutor looks through stories) no it’s not that one I don’t think I think erm I think it’s erm (.)

JAMES: are you referring to the end?

SIMON: well not just the ending no it’s it’s kind of like the occasional thing that (.) you you’re going for a funny remark when it doesn’t quite come off

JAMES: right yeah
Mum and Ruksana

MUM: I just want a bit of appreciation for try (.) the effort I made on your birthday

(.) I was almost dying on your birthday don’t you realise how much effort it was to go there?

RUKSANA: oh sorry make me feel guilty about my birthday ‘cos that’s so good isn’t it?

MUM: make you what?

RUKSANA: do you make me feel guilty about going out on my birthday

MUM: no you should

RUKSANA: shut up

MUM: no you should feel guilty about not

RUKSANA: no you should feel guilty

MUM: about what?

RUKSANA: about holding your illness over going out on my birthday

MUM: I haven’t held it against you I just

RUKSANA: well you did just then

MUM: why? I held your ungratefulness against you

RUKSANA: I think you should stop this now

MUM: I’m showing you how illogical your argument was

RUKSANAA: how illogical my argument was (.) you sat there saying to me that it’s my fault

that you were ill on my birthday

MUM: no

RUKSANA: your fault you dragged yourself out

MUM: no I didn’t say that I said that you were ungrateful

RUKSANA: I mean it’s an effort that you dragged yourself out for my birthday well I’m sorry

MUM: well it was an effort

RUKSANA: for having my birthday

MUM: I did drag myself out (.) I showed how much I loved you did you show how much you loved me by being sensitive? I’ve

RUKSANA: oh shut up



  • Identify the context for these conversations

  • Identify the characteristics of speech which they show

  • Identify the areas of transactional and interactional speech

  • What are the main features of the organisation of these types of conversation


TEACHER: gemma do you think that people can be born leaders?

GEMMA: yeah

TEACHER: go on

GEMMA: ‘cos I think you’ve either got it chemically in you (.) and you’ve (.) you’ve got the like confidence and (.) the ability to say what youthink and (.) be able to tell that to other people (.) or you haven’t

TEACHER: mmmmmmmmm

GEMMA: some people just (.) really can’t do it like they don’t (.) have it (.) don’t have like the sense

TEACHER: mmmmmmmm

GEMMA: to be able to delegate and put across to other people

TEACHER: mmmm (.) okay (.) so what about the sort of precept if somebody said well if you go on a an assertiveness training course (.) that’d be timid or something like that (.) you’d say you’re really wasting your time if you were of a certain type (.) all of that kind of stuff is superfluous (.) it won’t do you any good (.) so if (.) if you were born a certain (.) certain leader type and that’s (.) you can (.) you can develop it one way or the other but a lot of people just fall in-between

MATTHEW: I don’t think that’s true sir (.) you’ve got (.) correct me if I’m wrong here but but the qualities of leadership are actually being sort of assertive and

GEMMA: you don’t have to be necessarily assertive to be a good leader


GEMMA: it’s (.) it’s the way (.) the way that you handle things and the way you process things

MATTHEW: yeah (.) and vice versa someone else can be taught to be assertive and it just won’t do them any good


MAGISTRATE: I’m putting it to you again – are you going to make an

offer – uh – uh – to discharge this debt

DEFENDANT: would you in my position

MAGISTRATE: I – I’m not here to answer questions – you answer my


DEFENDANT: one rule for one and one for another – I presume

MAGISTRATE: can I have an answer to my question please the question is

– are you prepared to make an offer to the court – to

discharge – this debt?

DEFENDANT: what sort of minimal offer would be required?

it’s not a bargaining situation –

it’s a straight question, Mr H – can I have the answer
2. Telephone calls – what are the conventions of the opening?

A (Ring)

I: hello

C: hello Ida

I: yeah

C: hi this is carla

I: hi carla

C: how are you


B (Ring)

B: hello

A: hello

B: oh hello Ann what’s up

A: nothing much just had something

I wanted to ask you


English to English


R: good afternoon edinburgh bookshop

C: hello there .h ehm I’m looking for the book

of the story of Pinocchio
Italian to Italian


R: feltrinelli buongiorno

C: buongiorno m-scusi vendete li-

testi universitari
Italian to English


R: good afternoon blackwells may I help you

C: hh mh h I was wondering I’m looking for

a book by: primo levi

D: Is this phone call Eng-Eng or It-Eng?


R: folders charing cross ( ) can I help

C: hh eh good afternoon


can you help me please

R: I would try

C: e::hm I’m looking for a handbook of

medicine.hh eh:: especially about heart



Pridham, The Language of Conversation, pp.69-73

Part 1 – Discourse topic

Example 1

Mary saw John
Example 2

Peter is going to Paris next week?
Example 3

Passers-by ignored a man’s pleas for help as he lay bleeding in a Chengdu street after being stabbed nine times by a gang of robbers, The West China Daily reports. Onlookers refused to even lend him a mobile phone to call for help. A passing nurse eventually came to the man’s aid. (South China Morning Post, January 21, 2004).

Example 4

SCHINDLER: Unlike your radiators - and your boxes - my products aren't for sale on the open market. This company has only one client, the German Army. And lately I've been having trouble fulfilling my obligations to my client. With your help, I hope the problem can be solved. The problem, simply, is space. I'd like you to consider a proposal which I think you'll find equitable. I'd like you to think about it and get back to me as soon as -

KUHNPAST: Excuse me - do you really think this is appropriate? I can appreciate your problem. If I had any space I could lease you, I would. I don't. I'm sorry.

HOHNE: Me neither, sorry.

SCHINDLER: I don't want to lease your facilities. I want to buy them. I'm prepared to offer you fair market value. And to let you stay on, if you want, as supervisors. (pause) On salary.

KUHNPAST: You've got to be kidding.

KUHNPAST (pause) Thanks for the drink.

He sets it down, gets up. Hohne gets up. They return the documents to Stern and turn to leave. They aren't quite out the door when Schindler wonders out loud to Stern:

SCHINDLER: You try to be fair to people, they walk out the door; I've never understood that. What's next?

STERN: Christmas presents.

Example 5

A: When did you last speak to Jan?

B: I’m not sure. About a week ago. Why?

A: I’ve heard from C that she has got engaged.

Example 6

Seals are carnivorous with a difference. Most carnivorous live on land. Seals, however, live in the water, coming on land only to test and to breed. There are some seals that actually mate in water but even so, the females have to come on land to give birth to their young, which are called pups. When seals come out of land in large numbers to mate and to give birth, those places are called rookeries.
Example 7 (Schiffrin, 1994: 262)

  1. I mean, in them days there was no such thing as rel- as relief.

  2. You had to make a livin’, y’ know.

  3. And they had free soup houses.

  4. There’s a place up on Francis Avenue here, oh about three miles up.

  5. That’s still in existence yet.

  6. They se- they go in there and they make- give you soup, for free.

Part 2 Discourse organisation – the control of perspective

1. Jim borrowed Fred’s hammer.

2. Fred lent Jim his hammer.
3. Mary entered the restaurant. The waiter was polishing glasses.

4. A customer came into the restaurant. Alphonse was polishing glasses.

5. She’s tall and thin and looks like a crane.

6. I do like Sally Binns; she’s tall and thin and walks like a crane.

7. I do dislike Sally Binns; she’s tall and thinand walks like a crane.
8. The farmer called the ducks.

9. The ducks were called by the farmer.

10. What the farmer did was call the ducks.
11. What is disturbing the American administration at the moment is …

12. What I have tried to show you is …

13. Many religions are attractive. What is unique about Catholicism is …

Where are these sequences taken from and what are their staging characteristics (how are they organised?)

14. Late that afternoon she received a telegram …

Without hesitating, Betty replied

An hour later, a pleasant middle-aged woman arrived …
15. Mr William Serby, who died aged 85 on Sept. 20, was …

He went to school …

In 1926 he was appointed …

During the 2nd World War he commanded …

In 1926 she married Jean Durns and they …

16. On some islands it is best if you …

In Greece and Turkey you are met at the airport …

In all aother places we make the bookings …

In some centres we have local agents …

On a few islands you have to collect your bags yourselves …
17. Mary Queen of Scots was executed by the English Queen

Mary was assassinated by the English

Mary of Scotland was murdered by her cousin Eizabeth


Brown and Yule, Discourse Analysis, pp.125-152

  • Can you identify the topics in these two conversation?

  • Are the speakers men or women?

Text 1

A: how’s your dogs (.) all right?

B: yeah (.) they’re in the kennels

A: had any sort of snow yet?

B: had a sprinkling on the moors (.) when I was going to work (.) er but nothing serious

A: you had a visitor the other night (.) little Mr Hudd?

B: yeah, yeah I was

A: he said you were abusive to him as usual

B: he found the place all right (.) only took him about half an hour (.) to drive from Warrington

A: bloody hell (.) he must have been moving

B: he was all right

A: yeah

B: now he’s moving (.) we’re off to the States on holiday as well

A: yeah (.) we’ll all be out there (.) some people at work said they wanted to go the States (.) I said (.) oh one of my friends is going to work out there (.) oh give us his address they all said (.) we’ll be able to do the New York Marathon (.) know someone who’s over there in Jersey (.) how’s your mum and dad?

B: all right

A: last time I seen your mum (.) I was running up the hill (.) she was on the bus stop (.) arthritis still bothering her?

B: oh yeah (.) you can see it in her hands when she picks things up (.) the joints are actually quite knobbly (.) they’ve actually swollen up (.) I think she takes painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets (.) but that’s about it

A: how long you down here for?

B: going back tomorrow

A: oh you’re not

B: some time (.) going to Denise’s for lunch and then driving back some time later

Text 2

C: well does Caroline like Jane (.) I don’t’ know to be honest well no (.) she said (.) she’s cold she said (.) she doesn’t dislike (.) but they’ve never really clicked

D: cold?

C: er yeah

D: Jane’s cold?

C: and they’ve never really clicked (.) but she only has to work for her three days a week

D: I thought it was erm (.) Irene she didn’t like

C: no it’s Jane she didn’t like

D: oh (.) and she was saying that (.) you know you were saying why didn’t she get any men (.) in the hairdressers (.) she gets loads of offers she said (.) but they’re all from married men (.) who want affairs


Yule, The Study of Language, pp.216-225

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