Comparative Writing Assignment [3] (‘B’ grading, 2001/2002)

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“Explore the similarities and differences between the three transcriptions of speech, including a consideration of the different contexts in which the texts were produced and how attitudes and values are conveyed by the speakers.”

{Text A CONTENTS:

Content – purpose – audience – context; Syntax and grammar; Lexis; Phonology; Discourse; Attitude conveyed.}

{Text B CONTENTS:

Content – purpose – audience – context; Syntax and grammar; Lexis; Phonology; Attitude conveyed.}

{Text C CONTENTS:

Content – purpose – audience – context; Syntax and grammar; Lexis; Phonology; Attitude conveyed.}

{EVALUATION:

Comparative conclusion.}

TEXT A

CONTENT, PURPOSE, AUDIENCE AND CONTEXT

Text A shows a transcription of a radio interview recorded in 1953 – 8 years after the end of World War II – with an interviewer trying to gain information about Tunbridge Wells from a 102-year-old resident.  This kind of interview usually appeals to Radio 4/local radio listeners, who are old enough to have sufficient time to be interested in such matters!  I believe that this interview would have taken place in the street.[^]

SYNTAX AND GRAMMAR

The typography is strikingly unusual because there is an almost complete lack of punctuation, well now mr cranwell…” for example.  As the interviewer realises she isn’t getting the expected feedback from an apparently ill-informed gentleman she starts to feel less sure of herself, demonstrated by her incomplete utterance, “what’s the (.) what’s the…”[^]

LEXIS

As the interviewer becomes more exasperated with the man’s lack of worthwhile contributions, she struggles to find suitable wording for phrases: “but it must be a healthy [very unusual pre-modifier in this context] place”!  Later on, she seems to employ a humanistic lexical set in her confusion as to how best to pump for information: “well er that comes from the inner spirit i know”.[^]

PHONOLOGY

The interviewer stresses key words in a question, presumably for the benefit of the 102-year-old male whose auditory faculties aren’t what they once were.  For example, she stresses the first syllable of the superlative nicest”.[^]

DISCOURSE

Unfortunately the interaction between the pair is strained, as they don’t seem to be on the same wavelength – “look lady i don’t know what you want me to say”.  He regularly breaks the maxims of conversation: his reply to the interrogative “and has it changed much since then” of “yes we’ve had a lot of changes” breaks the maxim of quantity, for instance.[^]

ATTITUDE CONVEYED

The fact that the old chap doesn’t know – or even care – about what’s going on is shown by his final “i live in tunbridge wells that’s all i know about it”.[^]

TEXT B

CONTENT, PURPOSE, AUDIENCE, CONTEXT

An early TV documentary set in 1930, East End London, involving a middle-aged woman bemoaning her slum living conditions before moving into a new flat.  The audience will be ‘vox pop documentary’ viewers, with the purpose of informing them as to how members of the working class live.[^]

SYNTAX & GRAMMAR

The lady uses idiomatic expressions, “this ‘ouse is getting on my nerves”, to convey her feelings of dislike for her living conditions.  There is evidence of tautology, dirty, filthy walls”, which she presumably uses to underline her disgust of the place.  It is very much a piece of ‘stream of consciousness’, demonstrated by her meandering “same with the passage that’s all the same on the crook in fact everything in the house is on the crook”.  She employs hyperbole to get her point across, “you don’t let the children up the stairs in case they fall down”.[^]

LEXIS

Her East End of London roots come across in some of her lexical choices: “there’s a staircase that you can’t walk up it unless you start to feel sea-sick…”  ‘Unless’ in this context means “because”.  A marine lexical set is apparent: “shored…sea-sick…sinking…”[^]

PHONOLOGY

The negative points and descriptions of her housing are stressed: nervesfilthy…vermin…wicked…”[^]

ATTITUDE CONVEYED

Total condemnation of living conditions, with exaggeration and other devices (such as the juxtaposition of “the upstairs is coming downstairs”) used to underline her beliefs.[^]

TEXT C

CONTENT, PURPOSE, AUDIENCE, CONTEXT

Taped at home by his parents in 1999 (the eve of the millenium), text C is a transcription of a 14-year-old boy talking of life in Swansea.  The purpose of the speech was to provide practice for a school oratory about life in Wales, with the audience being his parents initially, before he went on to present to a teacher and fellow pupils presumably.[^]

SYNTAX & GRAMMAR

The boy speaks using the declarative mood, as he is factually describing his life.  It appears to be a fairly spontaneous speech because he uses a lot of fillers: “uh”s and “um”s.  He begins with a present tense “i live in swansea”, before switching immediately to the past tense“i’ve lived in swansea for (.) twelve years”.  He then describes Swansea using the present tense, before anecdotally recounting an adventure from his youth, using a mixture of the straight past/past progressive (“were catching”).[^]

LEXIS

He employs a lexical set of the sea to describe his childhood adventures, “sea…surfing…bodyboard…”[^]

PHONOLOGY

He stresses the important and exciting parts of the story, as seen through a 14-year-old’s eyes: campedsnackstrapstrip wires”.[^]

ATTITUDE CONVEYED

Positive attitude towards Swansea – “um i like swansea uh…” – conveyed through thorough description of this story – it obviously means a lot to him.[^]

COMPARISON OF THE TEXTS

Text A shows a transcription of an exasperated interviewer and an old man who doesn’t really know [or seem to care] what he’s talking about.

Text B shows a middle-aged woman on a mission to insult her housing conditions – thus, she does have an opinion, a stance, and she does care.

Text C shows a 14-year-old with a positive attitude towards his subject matter – contrasting with the previous two texts.[^]

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34-year-old father of three wonderful children [William, Seth, and Alyssa]. Works as an Assistant Technical Officer in the Sterile Services Department of Treliske Hospital, Cornwall. Enjoys jogging, web design, being a bit of a geek, and supporting Arsenal FC. Obtained a BA degree in English from the University of Bolton in 2008, and has continued to gain qualifications in a diverse range of subjects thereafter.

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Posted in A Level English [A2]

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