Overview of a Conversation Between Colleagues
This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.
Hey guys, here is my first article for January (and the year 2019). Most of you by now would probably have started your holiday homework and preparation for your final year of formal education. If not, it is probably worth doing so, as having your work done should help you to relax and enjoy the last part of your summer holidays.
This article will analyse the language used in a conversation between two co-workers. I have taken this transcript from https://www.betteratenglish.com/real-english-conversations-annoying-coworkers, and this website is designed to help people learn English (so it is quite a basic transcript, although the same basic concepts apply).
The first aspect of this conversation that I would like to briefly discuss is its spontaneity. This conversation is quite clearly spontaneous and unplanned, and numerous pause fillers (also referred to as voiced hesitations), such as, “uh,” and, “um,” both of which come up multiple times in this conversation, by both speakers. The interlocutors use these to show each other that they still wish to maintain the floor, but still needs to decide on what they will say. For example, “M,” used the pause filler, “um,” before explaining how a former manager did not take kindly to social conversations in the workplace. Additionally, pauses also appear in this conversation, further demonstrating spontaneity (for the same reasons as pause fillers). Additionally, the unplanned nature of this conversation is reflected through non-fluency repetition, where words, such as, “it, it, it…”, and, “if, if, if…” and this repetition (which is clearly not used for emphasis in this case), further demonstrates the fact that this is a spontaneous conversation as it is evident that the speaker (“M” in both the examples given), is thinking about what to say, and saying it simultaneously. Unplanned conversations tend to be informal (as this one is), although that is not always the case.
Another key element of conversations worth discussing is floor management, particularly backchanneling. Short responses such as, “uh-huh,” and, “okay,” are used by speakers to indicate that they are listening to what the other one is saying and indicating that they are happy to allow the other interlocutor to continue to hold the floor.
Some of the lexicon in this largely informal conversation is also worthy of analysis. The register of this conversation is subverted through the use of informal lexemes such as, “jerk,” which is a typically American term for a person who is rude, impolite or just not very nice, and the informal phrasal verb, “chip in,” which in this case (as it is generally used in Britain), means to interrupt a conversation. This informal lexicon subverts the formality and helps to show a closeness between the interlocutors, as most conversations between colleagues in the workplace are significantly more formal than this one (which can show a degree of social distance between speakers).
Anyway, that is it from me and I will have another article for you later this month.
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: What To Expect As A First-Year University Student, Social Purpose and How it Relates to Informal Language and The Summer Holidays and Formal Language Examples.
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