ANALYSIS OF A SPOKEN DISCOURSEUTILIZING HYMES ETHNOGRAPHY OF COMMUNICATION MODEL
Discourse refers to anycombination of sentences or series of speech events expressed inwritten form. Discourse is ‘any coherent succession of sentences,written or spoken’ (Matthews, 2005). Therefore discourse analysisis the investigation of naturally occurring sentences that may beeither spoken or written in the field of linguistics. Discourseanalysis encompasses any study that is contrived by the linguist,does not deal with single sentences and is out of context (Stubbs,1983).
This paper aims to analyze aspoken discourse through Ethnography of Communication/Speakingapproach by first, exploring the communicative behavior of aconversation that I participated in, and took place within my contextand social environment. It will describe how communication takesplace and will attempt to understand how it operates. Will explorethe participants’ communicative competence (Hymes 1972) required tocommunicate in a particular setting and the linguistic andsociolinguistic rules for communication as well as norms forinteraction which make the content of the communicative eventscoherent. And secondly, it will try to formulate a general view ofthe observed event from the participants’ perspective.
Whatis the Ethnography of Communication?
The conceptEthnography of Communication (EOC) means the different features of anapproach towards understanding the language in use within its socialand cultural background. It was first introduced by Dell Hymes (1962)who described it in detail in his article “Introduction: TowardEthnographies of Communications”, which was published in 1964.Originally termed as ‘ethnography of speaking’, Hymes laterbroadened it to include the non-vocal and non-verbal aspects ofcommunication. The key focus of Hymes was on the various ways ofspeaking. According to Hymes, under the different ways of speaking,he encompasses bipartite speech conception that entails the “speecheconomy” that speakers engage in and ‘means of speech’ that isavailed to the speakers. Therefore, Hymes provides a methodologicalmodel for communication analysis that is usually signified in theform of the SPEAKING reminder.
Accordingto Hymes’ model, the bipartite concept is significant because itrepresents a foundation of two aspect of speaking that he believesare inseparable: what speakers say and the particular context wherethe conversation takes place. This means that for a conversation totake place it must occur within a specific context. When the in-depthmeaning of the speech styles are investigated, it is evident thatthey entail dimension of setting, participant, channel and the like,which are the key determinants of their meaning (Hymes, 1989).
Hymesexplicitly defines means of speech as the ‘features that are withinthe styles as well as the style themselves.’ Speech economy on theother hand refers to the various relationships that are presentwithin a conversation community whereby the participants in thespeech utilize the means of speech. In accordance to Hymes’ modelof communication, the main aspects in the ethnography ofcommunication include is signified by SPEAKING which symbolizes:
S-Setting and scene
Aboutthe Analyzed Conversational Discourse
Theselected discourse for this assignment is an informal face-to faceinteraction between two English teachers (Claire and Patricia)recorded in an office at Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez in themorning of Saturday November 6th.,2016. The full length of the conversation is six minutes and fourteenseconds. Yet only the first two minutes are taken into account forthe analysis purpose. Besides the analyzed features, the choseninteraction also displays wide varieties of characteristics of spokendiscourse for instance adjacency pairs, transactions and topics, andmany other linguistic features such as pausing, shift in tones,rhythm, word stress, level of pitch, etc.
Theanalysis will follow what Hymes proposed as relevant units forinvestigating rules of speaking and language in use and arehierarchically ordered. These units are speech community, that refersto a group that has frequent and regular interaction characterized bycommon patterns of communication and interactional, speech situation,that refers to the social context in which the speaking takes place,speech event that is composed by the use of language of a specificsetting, and the lowest level is speech acts which are things like‘greeting”, “apologizing’, ‘insulting’, ‘asking/answeringa question’ speech act will involve three aspects, locution whichis the physical utterance by the speaking, illocution which refers tothe intended meaning of the utterance by the speaker, and theperlocution, action resulting from the locution. (Austin, 1962 and J.Searle, 1969)
Althoughall three levels are analytically relevant, the most important is‘speech event’ since it is essentially the event where ‘rulesof speaking’ apply Hymes put forward that speech event has a setof characteristic components which by looking at them we can obtain asatisfactory description of any particular speech event. The mostcommon framework to analyze speech event and is the one is intendedto utilize, is the SPEAKING model which labels each components witheach one of the letters of its word, Setting and Scene, where thespeech event is located in time and space, Participants, refers towho takes part in the speech event Ends, which is the purpose of thespeech, Act sequence, refers to what speech acts make up the speechevent, and the order they are performed in, Key, which is the tone ormanner of the performance, Instrumentalities, this refers to thechannel or mean of communication, Norms refers to the rules that areproducing and interpreting speech acts, and Genres that is the typeof speech event.
Thisrefers to a group of people who have common norms for at least onecommunication practice. Romaine (1994) defines speech community aspeople who may not necessarily share language but have common set ofnorms and rules about the use of language. In this conversation thespeech community comprises of ClaireBradin Siskin and Patricia Aguilar. The criteria used to group themas a conversation community is their shared language use throughoutthe speech, common rules of speaking as well as the shared values andattitudes on language use and forms.
Thisrefers to the context within which communication takes place.Conversation takes place in a work-space at Universidad Autonoma deCiudad Juarez in an office work environment.
These entail the activities thatare directed by the norms or rules regarding use of speech (Hymes1974a). In this conversation the speech event is ceremonial event,which had occurred last night. It is at the office environment whereClaire who was concerned on Patty’s health ends up in questioningPatty on the party she had attended with her husband. Thecommunication event in this conversation is composed of jokes, forinstance where Patty claims that according to her, 2am is the startof a new day and not at midnight.
Setting and Scene
The setting of the conversationfor this scenario be divided into two categories which are thephysical circumstances and the psychological environment.
Physically, the conversationtakes place on a small workspace on the second floor of the EnglishDepartment building at Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez, thisworkspace accommodates a workstation towards the wall so theinterlocutors are sitting next to each other and conversing face toface at times.
The psychological environment ofa Saturday morning promotes a relaxed/free non-serious interactiondue to the solitary surroundings of the place, in this event the twointerlocutors are actively conversing taking turns.
Spokendiscourse includes two interlocutors functioning as addressee andhearer simultaneously. Claire Bradin Siskin is an enthusiasticNative-American, 73 years old, practitioner of computer-assistedlanguage learning (CALL). She recently completed a 3-year term on theBoard of Directors of TESOL. She has given presentations andconducted workshops in 21 countries. Her principal interests arefaculty development and research in CALL. She was assigned for threemonths to Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez from the office ofEducational International Affairs through the General Consulate, asan English Language Specialist to improve UACJ English teachers’praxis and to help them integrate technology into the Second LanguageAcquisition process.
PatriciaAguilar is Mexican, married with 3 children, 45 years old, sheactually lives in El Paso, Texas border city with Ciudad Juarez,Mexico where she is in charge of UACJ CeLe’s English teachers’performance evaluations with 8 monitors (ESL classes observers) underher coordination, she also teaches A1 English level to UACJ students(all learners university aged with different major backgrounds).
Dueto the nature of Patricia’s position at UACJ, upon Claire’sarrival she was assigned to work with Patricia during her three monthstay.
The initial purpose of thisspeech event was to greet and socialize having the goal in mind tostart a Saturday working day.Although what was initiated as a regular morning greeting interactionturned to have two outcomes, the first one started by Clairequestioning Patricia about her health which turned the conversationabout a party Patricia attended the night before, and this outcometook the talk about the time change in the country.
Thedevelopment of the discussion was initiated by Claire as Patriciaarrived to the workplace. The discussion includes several speech actsand moves that indicate change in topic and interest of theparticipants.
Thetransaction structure (Sinclair and Coulthard, 1975) followed by theconversation shows a regular sequence of TPT-TPT-TPT, etc. (ask,answer, comment) as in most moves, Claire questions, Patriciaresponds, and Claire comments.
Clairemight have initiated the talk with phatic communication and theconversation continued in a playful way and at some points seriousvoices emphasized sincerity and respect to the expressions.
Bothinterlocutors were speaking in a casual register. The selecteddialect features utilized by the interlocutors showed their culturalbackground and idiolect. It is very clear throughout the conversationthat Claire keeps control of the conversation since she is the onequestioning and following up on Patricia’s answers.
Theconversation was conveyed in a phatic, playful, serious tone. Some ofthe norms observed in this conversation include no interruption whileone speaker talks, the interlocutors have their chance to fullyexpress their ideas before moving to the next question. Similarly,the speaking turns between Claire and Patty is evident whereby Claireposes a question Patty answers it satisfactorily before they move tothe next question.
Asthe conversation took place in a work-space at an institution, we cancategorize the conversation as a professional talk, however due tothe conditions of the day (Saturday) and the solitary conditions theconversation is absolutely a friend to friend interaction.
Thisrefers to an utterance that comprises of both a specificillocutionary force (speakers’ meaning) as well as a literal(sentence meaning). Speech events have speech acts that mediatebetween grammar and the broad speech situation. According to Hymes(1972b), a communicative act in his ethnography of communicationapproach often has one interaction function which may be a request orcommand. The conversation starts by greetings between theinterlocutors before starting the conversation. The communicationbetween Patty and Claire is characterized by questions and answerswhere Claire poses a question which is answered by Patty.
Thevarious acts that are evident in this conversation are thelocutionary act which is the factual sentence meaning, illocutionaryact which refers to the speaker’s utterance of words andperlocutionary act which is the effect the utterance has on theactions of the interlocutors (Austin, 1962). Locutionary act isevident where Patty uses ‘late’ when he is referring to 2am.Illocutionary act is evident where people who attended the partyalongside Patty and her husband claim it is late and start leavingthe party. Finally, perlocutionary act is when almost everybody isleaving the party which signifies to Patty that it is getting late.
Accordingto Searle (1969), speech acts can be divided into five aspectsincluding representative, commissives, directive, expressives anddeclarations. Some of these speech acts utilized in this conversationinclude:
Representative- these are utterances which commit interlocutors to speak the truth, it is evident where Claire tells Patty that time has changed which commits her to clearly state the time that according to her seems late, which is late than 2pm.
Directive- These are the utterances that commit the speaker to do something. This act is used where Claire asks Patty “like serious partying” which results in patty explaining all the activities that took place during the party.
Expressives-Utterances made to express a certain psychological state, for instance where Patty utters that “to be honest I partied last night”.
Muchof human existence is constructed and driven by communication whichcan be either linguistic or non-linguistic. The main purpose of thestudy was to analyze the conversation that took place between Claireand Patty using Hymes ethnography of communication approach, withmore emphasis on the SPEAKING model. It is evident that the speechcommunity, speech situation, speech event and speech acts are themain factors in communication competence. Similarly, the socialstatus as well as the occupational status can determine the mode ofspeaking or language. There is a symbiotic relationship thatinterlocks communication, language and ethnography. The use of Hymes’units of analysis in a conversation results in a well-functioningconversation which directly satisfies the interlocutors’ goals andneeds in an effective manner.
Austin, J. L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge, Massachussetts: Harvard University Press.
Cameron, D. (2001). Working with Spoken Discourse. Sage Publications.
Hymes, D. (1962) `The ethnography of speaking`, in T. Gladwin and W. Sturtevant (eds), Anthropology and Human Behavior. Washington, DC: Anthropological Society of Washington. pp. 15-53.
Hymes, D. (1972a) `Toward ethnographies of communication`, in P.P. Giglioli (ed.), Language and Social Context. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 21-44.
Hymes, Dell (1972b) `Models of the interaction of language and social life`, in John Gumperz and Dell Hymes (eds), Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication. New York: Blackwell. pp. 35-71.
Hymes, D. (1974). Foundations of Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. . Pennsylvania: Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
Matthews, P.H. (2005). Oxford concise dictionary of linguistics. New York: Oxford
Searle, J. R. (1969). Speech acts: An essay in the philosophy of language (Vol. 626). Cambridge university press.
Sinclair, J. M. (1975). Towards an Aalysis of Discourse. Oxford University Press.
Stubbs, M. (1983). Discourse analysis: The sociolinguistic analysis of natural language. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Widdowson, H. G. (1979). Explorations in Applied Linguistics. Oxford University Press.
Appendix1. Conversation between Claire and Patricia.
Claire: Hi Patty, how are you doing?
Patty: I am doing great thank you! How about you?
Claire: Mmmh, you, you sound a little strange, what’s… what’s going on? Are you getting sick?
Patty: Well, you know what, to be honest I partied last night
Claire: Oh really? You did, huh! Like serious partying?
Patty: Oh no, not really serious, it was my friend’s birthday, we had some marichis and a great dinner.
Claire: Oh! Are you, are you hung over?
Patty: Not really, I didn’t have any drinks, I just had some water. Well, just one tamarindo margarita and that was it.
Claire: Uh! Aaah! Really only one?
Patty: Only one yeah! The rest of it was just water, cause I need to take care of my husband
Claire: Ah ha! Ah ha!
Claire: Why, why is that?
Patty: Oh because he was drinking….
Claire: Oh my God, was he drinking and driving a lot?
Patty: No, not really we were spending the night here in Juarez.
Claire: Oh! Okay, that sounds responsible….
Patty: Yeah, yeah, we were spending the night but you know it’s always the kids around and stuff so
Claire: Yeah, yeah. Huh! Well, you know, I, I almost forgot that the time changed, you know? Did you notice that?
Patty: You know what? I noticed last night when everybody wanted to leave the party because they thought that it was so late, and I found out that it wasn’t that late, and we were all confused because of the time change.
Claire: Yeah, I was really confused but, but, but what time was that?
Patty: It was like around…. two?
Claire: Oh, OK, that’s about the time … yeah
Patty: Some of them were saying it was two and some of them were saying it was only one, so
Claire: Yeah, yeah.
Patty: So if would have be one then it was not the time to stop the party but two it was OK to stop the party, you know!
Claire: Yeah well the time doesn’t really change until two o clock anyway because that’s, that’s when the time, daylight
Patty: Oh, I didn’t know it changes until 2, I thought it was midnight
Claire: No, its two o’clock, we were talking about that yesterday cause, you know we went down south and that’s in a different time zone.
Patty: Oh! Was it?
Claire: Yeah, well, that’s what happened, I told you, we went down there and ah, we thought we were start, we thought it was, ah, ten, ah, eleven o’clock and we got there and it turned out that, ah, eh, in that time, in that city it was only ten o’clock.
Patty: Oh! So you had to wait for a whole hour for the teachers’ conference?