Spoken language and literature

In this exercise, students look at two examples of English language and describe their characteristics. What each one actually represents may surprise you.

Goals

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at two examples of English language and try to describe them as well as we can.

Slide 1 displays a text extract. Ask the students to work in pairs or groups to describe the language they see on the slide. What do they observe? What is happening in terms of vocabulary and grammar? After 5-10 minutes of work, invite each group to present a feature of the language that they have found. Features might include:

What do the students think this extract is? They are likely to conclude that it is spoken language, with just one speaker. They are right. But it may be surprising that this is in fact language written by the playwright David Mamet, who wrote it to resemble real speech, complete with interruptions and pauses and mistakes, in the play Glengarry Glenn Ross. Ask the students to discuss the following questions about the Mamet extract:

Slide 2 displays another text extract. Once again, ask the students to work in pairs or in groups to describe it. After 5-10 minutes of work, invite each group to present a feature of the language that they have found. Features might include:

What do the students think this extract is? This is spoken language with two speakers. In fact, this is a real transcript of a real conversation by real people, recorded by linguists as evidence for natural language in use. The recording comes form our corpus. Ask the following questions:

As a closing activity, look at the differences between the two texts, to see if it's possible to discern that one is real speech, the other written by a playwright.

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Spoken language and literature: Activity

John...John...John. Okay. John. John. Look. The Glengarry Highland's leads, you're sending Roma out. Fine. He's a good man. We know what he is. He's fine. All I'm saying, you look at the board, he's throwing...wait, wait, wait, he's throwing them away, he's throwing the leads away. All that I'm saying, that you're wasting leads. I don't want to tell you your job. All that I'm saying, things get set, I know they do, you get a certain mindset... A guy gets a reputation. We know how this...all I'm saying, put a closer on the job. There's more than one man for the... Put a...wait a second, put a proven man out...and you watch, now wait a second - and you watch your dollar volumes...You start closing them for fifty 'stead of twenty-five...you put a closer on the...

Adam: Uhm, something that I, I saw a lot was that when people were... Uhm... I’m blanking.

Richard: Can we take that again?

Adam: Yes. Excuse me, I’ve got to do what I did last time. I hate this. I’ve got to get this out. I won’t be a second, Richard. I’m just going to go berserk for a while, and then I’ll start again. [Pause.] Ah, thank you. Can we dance for a bit, actually?

Richard: Okay, Adam.

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