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Movie Language Revisited

Evidence from Multi-Dimensional Analysis and Corpora


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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Chapter 4 Shot 2: Close-ups 95


95 Chapter 4 Shot 2: Close-ups 4.1 Introduction Having established the similarity of face-to-face and movie conversation through a macro-analysis in Chapter 3, Chapter 4 narrows the scope and provides close-ups which examine this similarity in detail. Firstly, a comparative Multi-Dimensional Analysis of two movie genres – com- edies and non-comedies – is presented in Section 4.2. Secondly, in Section 4.3, phraseological comparisons are made between the whole AMC, including all genres of movies, and the LSAC. The features exam- ined are word lists, multi-word sequences and pattern types. 4.2 Multi-Dimensional Analysis of Movie Genre In this section, Multi-Dimensional Analysis is used to investigate whether the genre of a movie influences the resemblance between face- to-face and movie conversation. As Chapter 3 demonstrated, the two conversational domains are in fact very similar, despite what is usually maintained in the literature (cf. Chapter 1). They share four out of five Dimensions: they both have a positive score as far as Dimension 1 and 4 are concerned, and a negative score as regards Dimension 2 and 3. Face-to-face and movie conversation, consequently, belong to the same text type in that they are involved, non-narrative, situation de- pendent, and not highly persuasive. The only difference found concerns Dimension 5: movie conversation has a positive score, so it is defined 96 as abstract, whereas face-to-face conversation has a negative score and is labeled as non-abstract. In spite of this difference, however, neither of the two conversational types has a high mean score, which means that the...

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