Transcript of a conversation between Gary and his mother: 2005 Exam:
Section 2: Text 2: Spoken Text; informal register
In the following transcript, I wrote a separate paragraph on Gary and one on his mother. This is because they both have a different social purpose; they both have different stylistic needs; they both differ according to prosodics and face needs. Their personalities/identities are also critical to the message and the social purpose, so a separate paragraph on each enables you to do a good job of these features.
INTRODUCTION: This text features an informal spoken dialogue between a mother and her 16-year-old son, Gary. Gary’s purpose is phatic as he explains his need for a new engine whereas his mother’s purpose is to persuade Gary to rethink his decisions by detailing the cost associated with a new engine. The text is primarily informal as they navigate their face needs and try to achieve their competing social purposes.
PARAGRPAH 1: (Discourse features/face needs) The text comprises a variety of discourse features that are integral to a blended persuasive and phatic discussion between family members. In terms of the situational context, Gary’s social purpose is to persuade his mother to approve of his intent to purchase a new engine. Gary opens the conversation with the declarative “I might be pickin’ up a Nissan RG” (1) and uses the semantic fields of cars and money to construct an identity of a car enthusiast who is prone to showcase his “wheelies”: “You can put any engine in any car” 13; “It’ll cost me six hundred bucks to reco it” (29). The conversation consists of adjacency pairs as the mother questions the logic behind Gary’s decision. In her turn, Gary’s mother has a persuasive function which is to persuade Gary to consider a cheaper, and more cost-effective option such as a reconditioned motor (“You can buy a reconditioned esh-er-engine.” (31).
Paragraph 2: Gary’s Mother; specific details: social purpose style/lexicology (syntax)
Paragraph 3: Gary; specific details: social purpose; style / lexicology (sentences)
In order to fulfil her social purpose, Gary’s mother takes the floor and controls the topic of conversation by shifting it constantly to the area of fiscal and motoring responsibility – “It’d probably be cheaper” (31) and “You have to get it insured” (52) with a further emphasis on “third party” (54) Through topic loops (20-21) and (56-57), “you don’t wanna be spending that much money”, (56) she constantly returns to the problem of money, mechanics and theft. This enables her to highlight Gary’s irresponsibility, thereby achieving another purpose – to use her authority as a parent to prompt him, in a sensitive way, to rethink his decisions and to curb his rash behaviour. Employing politeness conventions, she declares: “but you’ve gotta make sure you don’t spend a grand before you realise if it goes in or not” (20) Gary’s mother shows that she has some expertise of cars. In this regard, she uses both slang – “a grand” (25) – and jargon to close the social distance, as it allows her to respond to Gary, on his level of motoring expertise. For example, she mentions “mags (61), “leadfoot (81) and “wheelies” (86), accommodating Gary’s face needs, so she can more successfully dissuade him. Stylistically, she uses interrogative sentences such as “What happens if you have an accident?” (65) to reflect her insight into Gary’s problematic behaviour on the road, which is also revealed in her sarcastic reference to “your foot’s not automatically gonna go down on the accelerator and do wheelies round the corner, coz they’re watching you” (86-87). the assimilations (“gonna” (86)/”gotta (20), “wanna” (56) and reductions (“coz”) as well as minimal responses (“hunh” (62)) throughout enable her to challenge her son to think about the consequences, whilst tapping into his mindset.
In his turn, Gary fulfils his social purpose through a combination of lexical and semantic terminology that reflect his identity as a car enthusiast who wants to upgrade his engine. From a lexical perspective, Gary uses jargon specific to the domain of cars such as “RG” (1) and “turbo” (10) that demonstrate his expertise and convinces his mother that he can be responsible and can spend his money wisely. He self corrects with reference to the “turbo” engine – “Rg twe- RG thirty engine” (2) and stumbles as in the false start (“* It’s a RP; It’s a RP – RP thirty.. turbo” (9/10)) knowing that his mother will be alarmed if the engine is too powerful. Stylistically, he uses declarative sentences such as “it’ll cost me six hundred to reco it” – in order to rationalise his spending choices – the inference is that he will save $400. Throughout his conversation, Gary uses slang such as “bucks” (29) and reductions – “get ‘em” (23) and “”been doin all this work to the car now’” (96) with ellipsis – that additionally reinforce his identity as an Australian youth. From a discourse perspective (prosodics), Gary hedges around the topic of money as his mother questions how he will be able to afford a new engine. He declares, in a hesitant manner, “might be able to pick ‘er up for a grand” (4); “I’m not really worried about cost” (34). The stress on “cost” shows his casual attitude to finance but it also shows that his mother knows he is struggling for money and she will be hard to convince. To save face, he uses discourse particles such as “mhm” (3) and repairs like “a-a” (2), as well as the declaration – “I’m gonna get .. three kill switches put into it” (59) as well as “lockstuds” (63) that he hopes will fend off problems about theft. Gary’s mother closes the conversation with the interrogative sentence “get my point?” (100) after expressing her concern about the cost, theft and insurance-related problems.
The interlocutors, Gary and Mum, are clearly comfortable and used to conversing with each other about their daily needs and intentions as shown by the overlapping speech and minimal responses. Their pre-established relationship allows for some accommodation of face needs, whilst both share an intuitive awareness of each one’s specific persuasive intent. Gary does not take offence, and appears to be used to his mother questioning his decisions, especially when that decision concerns cars. This allows for some cooperative overlapping which does not detract from a coherent conversation that Gary’s mother hopes will enable her to dissuade her son from buying the engine and doing potentially dangerous “wheelies”.
- Return to our Welcome Page: Overview
of English Works Notes and Resources
- Return to English Language
Resources 2019 – 2020