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Movie Language Revisited

Evidence from Multi-Dimensional Analysis and Corpora

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Pierfranca Forchini

This book explores the linguistic nature of American movie conversation, pointing out its resemblances to face-to-face conversation. The reason for such an investigation lies in the fact that movie language is traditionally considered to be non-representative of spontaneous language. The book presents a corpus-driven study of the similarities between face-to-face and movie conversation, using detailed consideration of individual lexical phrases and linguistic features as well as Biber’s Multi-Dimensional Analysis (1998). The data from an existing spoken American English corpus – the Longman Spoken American Corpus – is compared to the American Movie Corpus, a corpus of American movie conversation purposely built for the research. On the basis of evidence from these corpora, the book shows that contemporary movie conversation does not differ significantly from face-to-face conversation, and can therefore be legitimately used to study and teach natural spoken language.

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Contents

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Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Chapter 1 Opening Credits: Face-to-Face and Movie Conversation . . . . . . . . . 17 1.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 1.2 Spoken Language Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 1.2.1 Determinants and Features of Face-to-Face Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 1.3 Movie Conversation Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 1.3.1 Fictitiousness or Spontaneity in Movie Language? . . . . 34 1.4 Biber’s Multi-Dimensional Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Chapter 2 The Making of: Methodology and Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 2.2 Methodological Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 2.3 The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC) . . . . . . . . . 51 2.4 The American Movie Corpus (AMC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 2.4.1 Building Criteria and Norming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 2.4.2 Transcription Criteria and Tagging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Chapter 3 Shot 1: Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Face-to-Face and Movie Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 3.2 Informational vs. Involved Production (Dimension 1) . . . . . 66 3.3 Narrative vs. Non-Narrative Concerns (Dimension 2) . . . . . 76 12 3.4 Explicit vs. Situation-Dependent Reference (Dimension 3) . 81 3.5 Overt Expression of Persuasion (Dimension 4) . . . . . . . . . . . 85 3.6 Abstract vs. Non-Abstract Information (Dimension 5) . . . . . 87 3.7 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Chapter 4 Shot 2: Close-ups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 4.2 Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Movie Genre . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 4.2.1 Informational vs. Involved Production (Dimension 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 4.2.2 Narrative vs. Non-Narrative Concerns (Dimension 2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 4.2.3 Explicit vs. Situation-Dependent Reference (Dimension 3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 4.2.4 Overt Expression of Persuasion (Dimension 4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 4.2.5 Abstract vs. Non-Abstract Information (Dimension 5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 4.2.6 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 4.3 Phraseological Comparisons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 4.3.1 Word Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 4.3.2 Lexical Bundles: Two- and Four-grams . . . . . . . . . . . 104 4.3.3 Multi-Word Sequences and Pattern Types . . . . . . . . . 111 4.3.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 Chapter 5 Closing Credits: Implications and Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 5.1 Authentic Movie Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 5.1.1 A Reflection of Spoken Language...

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