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Conversationalization in public discourse. Tryntje Pasma Kirsten Vis. Overview. Introduction Conversationalization VU-Ster project Metaphor Subjectivity. Conversationalization. Hypothesis by Norman Fairclough (CDA)

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  • Introduction
    • Conversationalization
    • VU-Ster project
  • Metaphor
  • Subjectivity
  • Hypothesis by Norman Fairclough (CDA)
    • “the modelling of public discourse upon the discursive practices of ordinary life, ‘conversational’ practices in a broad sense” (Fairclough, 1994: 253)
    • movement towards norms of ‘casual’ conversation
    • in university brochures, news reports etc.
  • Example:

Di’s butler bows out . . . in sneakers.

(headline Daily Mirror)

    • Conversational vocabulary
    • Graphic devices
di s butler bows out in sneakers
Di’s butler bows out . . . in sneakers.
  • description of certain stylistic markers as ‘conversational’ is problematic (Pearce (2005))
    • Which word is conversational?
      • ‘bows out’ (vs. ‘resigns’)?
      • ‘sneakers’ (vs. ‘trainers’)?
      • ‘Di’ (vs. ‘Diana’ / ‘Princess Diana’)?
    • Lexical density
    • Tense
  • Intuitively plausible but intuitive approach
vu ster project
VU-Ster project
  • Goal
    • empirically test Fairclough’s conversationalization hypothesis for Dutch public discourse
  • Corpus analysis
    • Dutch news from 1950 <-> 2002
    • Dutch news from 2002 <-> Dutch conversations from 2002
  • News
    • 1950: 30,000w
    • 2002: 50,000w
    • 5 national newspapers; different sections
  • Conversations
    • 50,000w from Corpus of Spoken Dutch
    • 30 complete spontaneous conversations
to metaphor
To metaphor…
  • Conversationalization includes:
    • colloquial vocabulary; phonic, prosodic and paralinguistic features of colloquial language; direct address (you and we); repetition; lack of subject-verb agreement
  • Biber’s features of involved vs informational production
    • involved: causative subordination; wh-questions/clauses; etc.
  • Can same be observed for metaphor?
    • seen as conventional, stylistic property, rhetorical effect
metaphor in conversation
Metaphor in conversation
  • Studies of metaphor in conversations
    • Focus on certain forms and functions (Cameron 2003, 2008; Drew & Holt 1995) in certain settings
  • Idiomatic expressions
  • Delexicalised verbs (lexical density)
  • Position in sentence
idiomatic expressions
Idiomatic expressions
  • Their role in English conversations
    • Cheshire (2005): fixed expressions function as a means to help speakers keep up with the demand of online speech production
    • Drew and Holt (1995): idiomatic expressions in naturally occurring conversations seem to be used predominantly for topic summarizing and topic termination purposes
  • Their role in Dutch conversations
    • Termination and summary function; topic transition and start of new topic

78: ja je gaat vanavond maar weer flink te s aan de zuip.

79: ik heb een kater vandaag gewoon.

80: ongelooflijk.

81: ik heb uh helse pijnen doorstaan.

82: ik ben nog maar net uit b uit bed.

83: net nou eigenlijk net.

84: ja dat kasteelbier van jou dat uh dat ga dat hakt erin als een kasteel de volgende dag.

85: ja die zijn inderdaad genadeloos ja.

86: ik heb trouwens uh...

87: ben net even naar de videotheek geweest.

88: en daar lag gewoon Lars Von Trier The Idiots bij de videotheek.

89: bij in de vijfhoek.


idioms in news similar
Idioms in news similar?
  • Occur more often in news than in conversation
    • roughly 1 per 500 words
  • Functions are similar
    • a lot of the examples fit within termination, summary, transition function
  • Example:

Bijbelimporteur drijft wig tussen China en de VS


position of metaphor
Position of metaphor
  • Do metaphor-related words occur at beginning, middle or end of a sentence
  • What is expected? Are expectations different for conversation and news?
  • What are the results? Are results different for conversation and news?
form function position
Form, function, position
  • Comparison between conversations and news
    • patterns on different levels
    • diachronic element for conversationalization
      • with respect to form and position
  • Conceptual analysis of metaphor
    • patterns in registers
to subjectivity
To subjectivity
  • Definition:

the degree to which the presence of the speaker (/writer) is felt

e.g. when speaker gives opinion or shows (un-)certainty

  • Why subjectivity?
    • Presence of speaker in conversations
  • Examples:
    • It is a beautiful city.
    • Maybe your friend will come to the party.
    • John must be ill.
  • SPEAKER subjectivity
  • Two levels
    • Text: coherence relations
    • Sentence / word: lexico-grammatical
1 text level coherence relations
1. Text level: coherence relations
  • Relations between text parts like Cause-Consequence, Contrast, Evidence etc.
  • Capture part of what makes a text a text (rather than a random set of sentences)
  • Starting point:

Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST; Mann & Thompson, 1988)

    • fairly exhaustive list of 24 well-defined relations
subjective relations
Subjective relations
  • 10 subjective relations
    • Antithesis
    • Concession
    • Concessive opposition
    • Enablement
    • Enumeration
    • Evidence
    • Evaluation
    • Interpretation
    • Justify
    • Motivation
  • Conversationalization hypothesis:
    • The relative amount of subjective relations has increased over time.
subjective relations in news
Subjective relations in news



no change

conclusion coherence relations
Conclusion coherence relations
  • Overall number of subjective relations has not changed significantly, but the nature of the textual subjectivity has:

‘Old’ newspapers interpret more,

‘new’ newspapers prove / conclude more

  • Explanation:
    • back to texts
2 sentence word level
2. Sentence/word level
  • Following Bekker (2006), Scheibman (2002), Wiebe (2005)
  • Intensifiers
    • very, enormously
  • Modal verbs
    • must
  • Modal adverbs
    • maybe, presumably, certainly
  • Verbs of cognition
    • think, say
  • First and second person pronouns
    • I, you
  • Direct questions
    • uncertainty; listener is addressed
conclusion lexico grammatical analysis
Conclusion lexico-grammatical analysis
  • Only marginal support for conversationalization hypothesis
  • More research is needed
    • Verbs of cognition
      • only 1st person
    • Direct speech
      • exclude character speech
      • not straight-forward: e.g. Semi-Direct Speech
conclusion lexico grammatical analysis25
Conclusion lexico-grammatical analysis
  • Only marginal support for conversationalization hypothesis
  • More research is needed
    • Verbs of cognition
      • only 1st person
    • Direct speech
      • exclude character speech
      • not straight-forward: e.g. Semi-Direct Speech
      • De enige werkelijke oplossing is de sluiting van het terrein, stelt Molenman. (Nbi1)

The only real solution is closing the area, says Molenman.

      • De Ned. marine had een zeer gunstige indruk op hem gemaakt, zo zei hij. (TRObu2)

The Dutch navy had made a very favourable impression on him, he said.

what s next
What’s next?
  • Refine lexico-grammatical analysis
  • Automatic lexico-grammatical analysis of larger corpus
  • Qualitative studies
    • conversation 1950
    • analysis of perspective
    • etc.
  • Reception experiment
  • Possibly automatic analysis of adjectives and nouns with help from Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab