Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fiction dialogue differs from spoken conversation

17.05.2011
Dialogue plays an important part in fiction – it brings characters to life and advances the plot; the dialogue must seem real in order to be credible, although it may be adjusted to be reader-friendly. A recent Ph.D. thesis from the University of Gothenburg now shows that the requirement that fiction should capture the readers’ interest may also influence the use of linguistic constructions in fiction dialogue.

Karin Axelsson has studied tag questions in British English fiction dialogue and made comparisons to spoken conversation; her conclusion is that their use in fiction dialogue is influenced by a focus on problems, conflicts and confrontations and an avoidance of everyday conversations on trivial matters.

English tag questions usually consist of a statement followed by a tag, as in It’s interesting, isn’t it? and You can’t afford that, can you? These are very common in real-life conversation and interesting to study, as they display large formal and functional variation.

Axelsson has analysed over 2,500 tag questions for their formal features and over 600 of these also for their functions, using a large corpus of both written texts and transcribed speech: the British National Corpus.

The results show that tag questions are much less frequent in fiction dialogue than in spoken conversation. “In addition, they are in several ways different as to their formal features. The tag subject is, for example, mostly you in fiction dialogue, but it in spoken conversation,” says Axelsson.

In order to understand the background to these differences, Axelsson has developed and applied a hierarchical model for the functional categorization of tag questions. An important distinction in the functional model is made between response-eliciting and rhetorical tag questions. Tag questions have traditionally often been described as seeking confirmation; “that’s why it’s surprising that most tag questions in my data have been found to be rhetorical, both in fiction dialogue and spoken conversation”.

Among rhetorical tag questions, there are clear differences between those in fiction dialogue and those in spoken conversation: a majority of rhetorical tag questions in fiction dialogue are addressee-oriented, i.e. they concern the addressee, whereas most rhetorical tag questions in spoken conversation are speaker-centred, i.e. they present the opinion of the speaker.

Addressee-oriented tag questions in fiction dialogue often challenge the addressee; this seems due to the depiction of problems, conflicts and confrontations in fiction. Axelsson also finds that speaker-centred tag questions, which often deal with trivial matters in spoken conversation, are used much less in fiction dialogue, since they often do not bring the plot forward.

There are also functional differences among the response-eliciting tag questions: in spoken conversation, the speakers of such tag questions are usually uncertain and seek confirmation, whereas, in fiction dialogue, the characters also use confrontational tag questions in order to demand the confirmation of facts they are already quite certain of.

Tag questions may also consist of an imperative plus a tag, as in Come here, will you? These are relatively rare in spoken conversation, but, in fiction dialogue, they are used more often, in particular as commands; again, this might be due to the depiction of problems, conflicts and confrontations. However, it is also suggested that power relations may be more unequal between fictional characters than between real-life interactants.

Karin Axelsson, +4631-786 1068 e-post: karin.axelsson@eng.gu.se

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://hdl.handle.net/2077/24047
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>