This essay will be analysing the conversation, which is an extract from an interview that was conducted on television by Michael Parkinson with the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. I will be looking at how the context affects the conversation. The relationship between the speakers. Their attitudes to each other and the subject of the conversation and the features of spontaneous speech. The first thing that must be noticed is that this extract in taken from somewhere in the middle of the interview.
There is no introduction or exchange of greetings. There is no winding down or finish either. There is a definite regularity to the turn taking. Parkinson then Connolly and so on. There is an imbalance of power, the interviewee can take charge, elaborate and sidetrack. This comes as a surprise as one would assume the interviewer would possess more power over the conversation. The guest being Billy Connolly is the spotlight of attention, he is the person the audience is interested in and not Parkinson the host.
A closer look at Connolly’s use of language reveals dialect and non standard English for example, ‘Aye’, ‘you’re no funny’ and ‘yer wanna’. Just a few examples of dialect and non Standard English English that Billy Connolly often uses in this interview. This extract from the interview is fairly context independent as the reader will soon realize that this is an interview because of the format and turn taking. In fact this is deceptive as it is really context dependent, but reading into it vital information is missing. The names of both interviewer and the guest are not revealed.
There are no real structured questions which points more to a conversation than an interview. There is a seemingly high level of spontaneous ‘banter’ which gives it a more relaxed friendly feel. There is less emphasis on interviewing and more on the relationship between Parkinson and Connolly which at times seems very familiar. This is prime time viewing and as such it must be entertaining. Billy openly talks about his father’s opinion about homosexuality. He imitates his fathers broad Scottish accent and generally makes light of his oppressed upbringing.
For example when Billy is describing his dads reaction to becoming a comedian, ‘you’re no very funny (0. 5) w w what t d’y wanna be a comedian for (0. 5) are you daft (1. 5) an’ i became (0. 5) a welder to escape the worst excesses of homosexuality’. Connolly cleverly uses pauses of varying lengths to add comic affect in this quote. This piece of speech is socially orientated with a high level of interaction between the two people. This is very low interaction between the producer and receiver (viewer) as it is one way.
But the viewer has a few ways of interacting, such as a letter or email to the BBC. There is an interestingly high level of familiarity between Michael Parkinson and Billy Connolly. This is due to the fact that Connolly has appeared on the ‘Parkinson’ show numerous times. This means that they feel more at ease and can talk openly and defensive guards are already broken down and social status etc has already been established. The extract appears flowing and spontaneous but obviously the interview was rehearsed and lightly scripted to eliminate long pauses.
Only the general outline of the conversation including questions would have been planned, the rest is mainly spontaneous. There is the freedom to choose vocabulary and improvise to give the interview a more unplanned feel like a conversation with a friend. ‘What what (. ) er haunted you’. Looking at this quote from Parkinson further enforces my point about this interview seeming very spontaneous. There is a pronounced hesitation with the repetition of the word ‘what’. What this repetition does is give the speaker more time to think about the next word or sentence.
Also notice ‘er’ which is a common filler that is used for the same purpose. A common sign of spontaneous speech is the use of fillers, it also just takes the edge of the formality. To conclude I have looked into the relationship between Parkinson and Connolly and how this affects the speech. How and why pauses, utterances and fillers are used in spontaneous speech. Finally I have talked about the context in which it is set and how context dependence and independence is important in understanding.