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Features of orality in the language of fiction: A corpus-based investigation


Jucker, Andreas H (2021). Features of orality in the language of fiction: A corpus-based investigation. Language and Literature, 30(4):341-360.

Abstract

This paper explores the pervasiveness of features of orality in the language of performed fiction. Features of orality are typical of spontaneous spoken conversations where they are the result of the ongoing planning process and the interaction between the interlocutors, but they also occur in the context of performed fiction (movies and plays) and in narrative fiction (e.g. novels). In these contexts, they are not the result of the spontaneous planning process but are generally produced to imitate such processes. In this paper, I explore a small range of such features (contractions, interjections, discourse markers, response forms and hesitators) in four corpora of performed fiction that have recently become available (Corpus of American Soap Operas, TV Corpus, Movies Corpus and Sydney Corpus of Television Dialogue) and compare their frequency patterns with spontaneous face-to-face conversations in the Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English and with narrative fiction and academic writing in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). The results confirm that the selected features of orality are used regularly in performed fiction but less frequently
than in spontaneous face-to-face interactions while they are rare in narrative fiction and almost entirely absent in academic writing. The results also show that the status of the transcriptions contained in these corpora needs to be assessed very carefully if they are to be used for a study of pragmatic features.

Abstract

This paper explores the pervasiveness of features of orality in the language of performed fiction. Features of orality are typical of spontaneous spoken conversations where they are the result of the ongoing planning process and the interaction between the interlocutors, but they also occur in the context of performed fiction (movies and plays) and in narrative fiction (e.g. novels). In these contexts, they are not the result of the spontaneous planning process but are generally produced to imitate such processes. In this paper, I explore a small range of such features (contractions, interjections, discourse markers, response forms and hesitators) in four corpora of performed fiction that have recently become available (Corpus of American Soap Operas, TV Corpus, Movies Corpus and Sydney Corpus of Television Dialogue) and compare their frequency patterns with spontaneous face-to-face conversations in the Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken American English and with narrative fiction and academic writing in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). The results confirm that the selected features of orality are used regularly in performed fiction but less frequently
than in spontaneous face-to-face interactions while they are rare in narrative fiction and almost entirely absent in academic writing. The results also show that the status of the transcriptions contained in these corpora needs to be assessed very carefully if they are to be used for a study of pragmatic features.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:Corpus pragmatics, features of orality, movies, performed fiction, television series
Language:English
Date:29 September 2021
Deposited On:06 Oct 2021 09:52
Last Modified:26 May 2024 01:44
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0963-9470
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/09639470211047751
Related URLs:https://journals.sagepub.com/home/lal (Publisher)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)