Television Dramatic Dialogue: A Sociolinguistic Study

Television Dramatic Dialogue: A Sociolinguistic Study

Television Dramatic Dialogue: A Sociolinguistic Study

Television Dramatic Dialogue: A Sociolinguistic Study

Synopsis

When we watch and listen to actors speaking lines that have been written by someone else-a common experience if we watch any television at all-the illusion of "people talking" is strong. These characters are people like us, but they are also different, products of a dramatic imagination, and the talk they exchange is not quite like ours.

Television Dramatic Dialogue examines, from an applied sociolinguistic perspective, and with reference to television, the particular kind of "artificial" talk that we know as dialogue: onscreen/on-mike talk delivered by characters as part of dramatic storytelling in a range of fictional and nonfictional TV genres. As well as trying to identify the place which this kind of language occupies in sociolinguistic space, Richardson seeks to understand the conditions of its production by screenwriters and the conditions of its reception by audiences, offering two case studies, one British (Life on Mars) and one American (House).

Excerpt

Television, as the dominant mass medium of the second half of the twentieth century and into the first decade of the twenty-first century, is responsible for bringing extensive amounts of drama into everyday life, from adaptations of classic novels and multiple episode serials to true story enactments and the scenarios played out in tv commercials. in doing so, it repeatedly displays people talking, showing audiences how characters behave in the varying circumstances of their narratives. These stories, and the talk they give rise to, mediate between the familiar and the extraordinary, and engage the imaginative powers of their receivers as well as their creators. This book offers a primarily sociolinguistic approach toward a better understanding of what the talking in these dramatic productions contributes to contemporary culture.

The scope of the research

Television drama dialogue can be defined as onscreen/on-mike talk delivered by characters as part of dramatic storytelling in a range of fictional and nonfictional tv genres. Television consumers are characteristically referred to as its viewers and described as watching programs on tv. But the experience of television is seriously incomplete unless viewers are also listeners, who engage with the various mixes of sound, speech, and music that the medium has to offer, in combination with its visual images. Most of television’s product range offers us the sound of the human voice, and a considerable proportion of that involves the kind of talk that I have described above. When actors talk to one another on this basis, we in the audience are invited to hear speech, embodied and en-voiced. the lines crafted by writers in the confines of an office or other private space have been appropriated and transformed. Within the parameters of the representation, the on-screen bodies own their speech as the characters they purport to be. in television’s favored realist modes, this embodiment accommodates well any inclination we may have to hear characters as people, and their talk as the kind of . . .

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