Spoken language assessment In this essay I will be analysing a transcript from a Newsnight show featuring Jeremy Paxman, Baroness Amos and Dizzee Rascal. I will be talking about the effects of choices in the use of standard and non-standard forms of spoken language. Often the situation influences the structure and fluency of the conversation. Especially in this situation the location of the debate is a key factor that tests the rule of conversation, because each person is in different studios there is a slight time delay which interrupts and sometimes confuses speech.
From the start of the interview JP shows his confidence and ease being a television interviewer. His speech is relaxed and welcoming and his use of filler ‘well’ and the phatic phrase ‘I’m pleased to say, it is conversational and shows his desire to put his guests at ease. This sets a relatively informal tone for this Newsnight interview. This confident authority is reinforced by paralinguistic features. His body language is relaxed and he nods approvingly as he introduces BA, suggesting his awareness of her status as a political commentator who can make a valuable contribution to the debate.
However his fluent and articulate use of formal SE falters slightly in his introduction of DR. JP pauses before the words ‘rapper and ‘hip-hop artist’ smiling ruefully and apologises ‘sorry’ for his momentary hesitation. This seems to indicate his self-consciousness when using the terms, perhaps suggesting that such vocabulary is unfamiliar to him and that he may – as a middle aged, middle-class, white, political journalist, feel foolish using words related to the contemporary music scene.
BA speaks in SE and uses sophisticated vocabulary as well as subject specific erminology to display her authority and knowledge in this political arena. She uses jargon such as ‘social dynamic’ to create a formal atmosphere and to convey her assumption that the audience will share her understanding of such terms. This could be seen as alienating but might also indicate her respect for listeners and their engagement with and understanding of the topic.
Moreover as the discussion topic is Obama’s election, her vocabulary and language choices make us acknowledge BA’s apparent superior understanding of the topic. DR speaks NSE. Dialect features like ‘innit’ distinguishes DR from the Standard English speakers, JP and BA. DR also address people by using the term ‘man’, this maybe because of his heritage Ghanaian but is perhaps more likely to be a feature of his upbringing in Bow, East London .
It also may be used to get verbal feedback from JP as DR is not in the television studio and therefore cannot pick up on the unwritten rules of conversation. It may also be used to elicit approval and confirmation that his points are valued and relevant By addressing everyone by using the term ‘man’ DR shows equality towards the interviewees The slang used and DR’S accent makes him seem to some less ducated and his speech less rehearsed compared to someone like BA However his dialect is representative of younger people and identifies him as part of a contemporary urban community of users.
This may show that dialect is perhaps less likely to be linked to race and gender as they are to the young city dwellers in South-east England. Also the rhetorical question in the phrases used like ‘innit? is a clever, yet simple way of making the reader listen and think about the point he has just made. On the other hand the word maybe used as a filler showing his uncertainty. BA’s tone throughout the debate is monotonous. Throughout her lengthy utterance her tone remains generally the same. This tone however is not necessarily successful.
When talking at length speakers need to make their point interesting for the listeners to take notice and think about the points being made. BA might speak like this because she is used to talking at length in political debates. Also she doesn’t often pause for a long amount of time. She does this to try and keep the floor for as long as she can. BA gets her point across by talking and exploring her points this makes her ontributions lengthy, whereas DR talks enthusiastically and energetically to try and make the audience take notice.
BA talks the most however her speech is not the most effective. DR stands through all of the debate. When speaking he is never still and seems to bounce. This shows enthusiasm and passion for the debate. Also when he speaks he uses hand gestures to reinforce his points. For example, when DR say ‘l think it don’t matter what colour you are, it matters what colour your heart is man’. Throughout that speech he has his fist on his heart and bangs his chest repeatedly. This gesture makes the udience think about the point he is making and shows DR’S enthusiasm.