LitW Step Two: Describe the situation, giving information that will be relevant and necessary to your analysis.

I expect this will take a minimum of 300 words. Include your transcript (with any revisions needed) above the description, but this is not included in the word count.

Use clear, plain language. You may find it helpful to refer to Hymes’ SPEAKING model for describing interaction; you can also refer to the list below.

Your task is here is to determine what information is relevant and necessary to understand your analysis. Aim to give neither too littlenor radically too much information so that someone who has not witnessed the speech act/event can understand what is going on.

Remember also that, as a linguistic anthropologist-in-training your goal should be to remove yourself from your everyday, taken-for-granted, insider’s understanding of what is going on here and try to adopt a distanced, analytical perspective. For those writing about interactions they participated in, this will be especially tricky. Use the tools of sociolinguistic analysis we have been learning to help you do this.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What was said before (or after) that is required to make sense of the section of talk you have chosen?
  2. Participant Structures: who is speaking? Who is being spoken to? What  social roles do the participants occupy (e.g. mother, teacher, peer, friend, etc.) and what is their relationship to each other (if known)? Are other people present/listening? What language(s) do the participants speak? What linguistic backgrounds and attitudes do they have?
  3. Where and when and under what conditions is this speech act/event taking place? This question may be directly linked to the next one:
  4. Label or Definition of the Speech Act or Event: In ordinary, conversational terms, what would we call this interaction? What is the social situation here? (e.g. a formal lecture, chit-chat, mother-child playtime, etc.) See also, our discussion of framing in class. What norms govern such interactions generally. Do we see conformity to or violation of these norms in the interaction?
  5. What is the general speech environment or language ecology in which the act or event takes place (if relevant); what ideas about the language varieties being used (and the speakers of those varieties) do people have in this cultural context?
  6. What are the actors are doing or trying to do in this interaction? This may involve making reasonable inferences based on what we know about the type of interaction or general cultural context of the speech act/event. This question gets us closest to the analysisstage of the paper

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