Linguistic Analysis paper

Linguistic Analysis

This is a project that will entail a comprehensive linguistic analysis of a five-minute long, videotaped and transcribed segment of a selected television program or movie that involves a nonnative speaker of English.

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In this assignment you are expected to meet the following course objectives:

(a) use the terminology employed in linguistics appropriately,

(b) examine the way languages are structured and used (English and the other language),

(c) explain observations about the English language using linguistic categories and principles, (d) practice the basic skills of linguistic analysis through independent fieldwork, and

(e) apply linguistic concepts and knowledge to the ESL classroom.

The purposes of this assignment also include (a) raising your awareness to the varieties of English that surround us, (b) sensitizing you—the ESL teacher—to the complexity of the task confronting the English Language Learner when communicating in English, and (c) developing a better understanding of cross-cultural communication.


I. Data Collection

Videotape a TV program or use a selection from a movie that depicts a situation (preferably a family situation that includes children, for variety of speech patterns) involving a nonnative speaker of English and has a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural dimension. The situation must represent differences between English and other real languages (as opposed to a language made up for the movie).

II. Transcription

Transcribe approximately five minutes of the show. Make sure you include talk-overs, incomplete utterances, interruptions, laughter, etc. Include as much as possible from the actual speech performance. You may take samples from different segments of the program to illustrate unusual usage.

You may use Gail Jefferson’s transcription system (available on our Lion’s Den course website) to analyze your text. Attach the transcript to your paper in an appendix. Please save the videotape until the end of the course.

III. Description and Analysis

A. Background: Provide some background about your sample (title, genre, setting of the program, characters, situation, etc.).

B. Analysis and Contrasts: Analyze your sample for differences in language between your taped sample and what you would consider Standard English (what is usually found in an academic setting). Be certain to look at least five of the following seven categories:

1. Fast colloquial speech, nonstandard pronunciation, unusual use of prosodic devices (the patterns of stress and intonation in a language)… (PHONOLOGY)

2. Unusual word formations, nonstandard inflections … (MORPHOLOGY)

3. Nonstandard syntactic features, fragments, word order… (SYNTAX)

4. Idiomatic expressions, word choice, unusual words… (SEMANTICS)

5. Maxims of conversations, politeness, speech acts …(PRAGMATICS)

6. Language variations (regional, social, gender, stylistic), register, slang expressions …(SOCIOLINGUISTICS)

7. Language acquisition: Language transfer problems… (SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION)

Include a total of 10-15 examples (at least 2 examples per areas listed above) from your taped and transcribed sample and analyze how they differ from standard discourse. In other words, what linguistic problems are faced by the interlocutors? What misunderstandings are caused by their linguistic and cultural differences? Use your textbook and class notes extensively.

IV. Discussion and Conclusions

Discuss your findings in light of the task facing ELLs.

Q1 — What can help them overcome the difficulties the actor “ELLs” faced in the conversation?

Q2 — Can TV and other media be used to help them (or your students)?

Q3 — What kind of remediation would you plan for them based on the problems/issues presented?

V. Make sure you follow the 6th edition of the APA manual. References should include your textbook, the film or TV show, and any other materials that you use.

Length of assignment: minimum 2,500 word || maximum 2,800 words (not including the transcript in the Appendix)

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