My aims for this project are to explore fully what linguistic choices children’s TV presenters make in order to accommodate for their young participants and target audiences. This investigation will enable me to understand and explore the ways in which children’s TV presenters accommodate to the children they are interacting with, and how they differ according to programme genre; I am expecting to find that Hasan’s GSP (Generic Structure Potential) will be prevalent in the data as each set of data will have a shared structural pattern, because they are all the same genre, a children’s TV quiz show, but they have differing subgenres.
I am interested to see to what extent the sub-genre will influence language choices. A significant part of my study will be exploring the accommodation theory. Accommodation theory was first explored by Howard Giles (1973). He and his fellow researchers considered that accommodation theory can be applied in all manner of different settings “including speech, writing, songs, radio broadcasting, courtroom proceedings, and human-computer interaction”.
The main issue of accommodation, however, relies on the recognition and response to the accommodation (Holland and Gentry, 1999). “In its most basic form, accommodation recognizes communicators’ efforts to make themselves more similar to the target to improve communication. ” (Holland and Gentry, 1999). My objective is to prove that children’s TV presenters do accommodate to their participants and their audience, although they accommodate differently according to the genre of the programme.
To do this, I recorded three children’s programmes with different sub-genres: “Best of Friends”, a fun, light-hearted “challenge” programme, “Raven”, a slightly more formal, mock-archaic physical challenge programme and “Beat The Boss”, a programme that involves children using their brains to create a new product against adults doing the same thing.
I am expecting to find that, due to the differing genres of the three programmes, that each set of presenters will react and speak differently to their participants, for instance “Best of Friends” has a fun, easy to follow structure suited for light entertainment, whereas “Raven” is much more formal. He uses archaic language and the show has a more serious feel to it when compared to “Best of Friends”.
This leads me to expect that the presenters of each show will act differently to their participants. I expect that the presenters of “Best of Friends” will use more humour, shouting and excitement towards their participants, to help make the show more upbeat and fun, whereas the presenter from “Raven” will be more serious towards his participants, not using much humour, which will make the show seem more serious and challenging.
Although I expect there will be differences in accommodation in each of the shows, each programme will have a high level of accommodation between the presenters and participants, in forms of: level of formality, phatic talk, lexical choice, use of humour and praise, The Effect of Genre on Discourse (GSP, audience needs, participants and game rules and the role of questions) Methodology In obtaining the data for my investigation I made transcripts of 10 minutes of three CBBC children’s game shows: “Beat the Boss”, “Raven” and “Best of Friends”.
I chose each of these programmes because, although they all fit under the umbrella of “children’s TV game show”, each show has differences in their genre and will therefore change in accommodation theory and other examples of linguistic study. The data also allowed me to investigate the language choices of each presenter and how they fit into the genre of the programme. I used the first ten minutes of each programme as my primary source of data for my investigation, as in the first ten minutes introduced the show and the participants and had still had data of the games and how they were played.
I felt that 10 minutes would be enough for me to find out what I needed to. There are a few variables in my investigation, as obviously the presenters will act and the participants react differently in different episodes, so there will be variation in what results you would get from different episodes. I am focusing on the following areas in my investigation: level of formality, lexical choice, GSP (generic structure potential), use of humour, use of praise, role of questions, how they clarify/explaining rules and topic choice, under 3 headings: how the presenters address children, phatic talk and functional talk.
Main Section: Accommodation Level of Formality In my first children’s TV show, Best of Friends, the GSP of the programme forces it to have a formal structure and this is shown with the presenter Rani introducing the show with a formal salutation Hello and welcome! ” Throughout the rest of the programme, however, the presenters generally accommodate to their young participants by using colloquial expressions: “there’s no two ways about it”, “You suck! ” and they also adopt a rhyming technique in places: “the other two sweets mean you’ll get a treat, so close your eyes and get ready to pick your sweet!
” And “you’ll end up with bed-head (another colloquial expression) hair but you’ll be so chilled you won’t care! “. Another example of informal speech is the presenters’ use of grammar. In two cases one of the presenters omits the auxiliary verb and the subject when she says: “Ready to take on some tasks, maybe? ” and “Jane, you sure you’ve done this before? ” This makes her sound informal and helps her accommodate to the participants as they speak like this as well.
Raven is almost a complete opposite to Best of Friends with its level of formality. The GSP forces the programme to have a formal structure, and with this Raven adopts a formal, archaic vocabulary and uses this on his participants, he welcomes them by saying: “Warriors, I welcome you back here at my kingdom” and goes onto using formal expressions such as “who returns with success in their sights and who recalls past fears and apprehensions? ” and “she plundered the depths of the Dwarf Mine”.
The way Raven speaks to his participants is almost completely different to the way the presenters in Best of Friends speak to their participants, and Raven doesn’t accommodate to the participants and how they speak, continuing to use formal and archaic language (dexterity, pivotal, valour, foolhardy) even when his participants don’t, for example: “we was quite in the lead” and the frequent use of “gonna”. This shows that, despite his participants possibly not understanding the language he uses, he continues to do so, indicating that Raven doesn’t accommodate to his participants.
Beat the Boss is more similar to Best of Friends than it is to Raven with the genre, but the show is formal like Raven. The GSP makes the show mostly formal, although the presenter uses young person’s language: “awesome”, however there is little accommodation with the participants with the presenter shown talking to the children directly only once, giving the impression that the show is mostly focused on entertaining the audience rather than the participants, and when the presenters and participants are communicating, the dialogue appears rather scripted and stilted: “Hello, how are you feeling?
” And “Are you ready to receive your brief? “. The show has a mostly scripted feel to it, with the heavy use of puns relating to the topic, in this instance water and swimming, such as “that will really make waves”, “dive into this watery challenge” and “that will create a splash with your mates” and there is also a lot of narrating rather than participant interaction, for instance “Both teams are poised on the starting blocks” which shows that there is very small instances of accommodation from the presenter to the participants.
Lexical Choice In Best of Friends the lexical choice from the presenters is mostly colloquial and typical of young people. This type of lexis is used by both the participants and the presenters, indicating that there is accommodation, with the presenters using language like “there’s no two ways about it! ” “You suck! ” “Excellent stuff” and “We’re keeping it cool and chilled”. The presenters also on a few occasions omit the auxiliary verb and subject, making their grammar informal, for example: “[Are you] Ready to take on some tasks now?
” as well as informal grammar such as “gonna” and “gotta”. The participants use the filler “like” when talking, such as “But I, like, got into it and it was, like, more fun” which is something the presenters do not do, indicating that although the presenters try hard to accommodate to their participants, they don’t accommodate to the extent that they mimic all the informal lexis and grammar that the participants use. In Raven the lexical choice from the presenters is mostly formal.
Raven tends to use archaic and unfamiliar language, for instance: “pivotal” “valour” “apprehensions” “dexterity” and “audacity”. This indicates that Raven neither accommodates to his participants nor to his audience, as the age group the show is aimed at may not understand some of the more archaic vocabulary he uses. On the other hand, his participants have typically informal vocabulary using grammar and lexis such as “gonna” and “we was quite in the lead”.
In a complete opposite to the Best of Friends presenters, Raven makes no effort to accommodate to his participants lexical choices and instead prefers to use his own, archaic vocabulary to maintain with the lexical genre of the show. In Beat the Boss the language is more formal than Best of Friends, but less formal than Raven. The presenter tends to use a mixture of colloquial and formal lexis, such as “awesome” “brainwave” “low-down” and “brilliance”.
The presenter doesn’t use informal grammar like the Best of Friends presenters, probably due to the fact that the programme is heavily scripted so there will be no room for improvisation or grammar mistakes. The participants, both adult and child tend to use informal grammar and lexis, for instance “those brats need teaching a lesson! ” “Loser! Loser! Loser! ” “Wicked! ” This shows that although both the adult and child participants use informal vocabulary, the presenter tends not to, mostly to do with the scripted nature of the programme, and in turn doesn’t accommodate to her participants lexical choice.