of preparation of the discourse
communicative situation is segmented, at the speech-turn level, the next step is to
determine the speech style associated with the occurrences of the variables in question,
and we have already given an instance in the previous section.
From the point
of view of conversation analysis, spontaneous speech has indeterminateness in terms
of speech turn, duration, topic, number of interlocutors, etc. as one of its most
recurrent traits (see Tuson, 1995: 55). In contrast, formal speech is generally
identifiable for the prearranged topic, the longer turns, perhaps preceded by a request to
have the next speech turn, few overlaps, syntactically and lexically elaborated discourse
respecting the roles of the participants (Tuson, 1988: 138-140). The speech modalities
present in the municipal plenary session occupy a broad spectrum ranging from written
contributions intended to be spoken to informal conversation. What dominates, obviously,
is a combination of largely planned oral styles or usages, but there are noticeably
spontaneous comments, which transgress or override the constraints of formality and which
can be associated with a number of different motives such as the (dictates of the) moment,
the topic and the personal characteristics of the interlocutors, among others.
At this point,
we asked ourselves what factors would allow us to determine the change from neutral style
to spontaneous style. Cedergren (1973) (6) identified two types of factors:
on the one hand, the contexts and different paralinguistic keys of the communication
channel, and, on the other, the attention paid by speakers to their production. In
principal, the context and setting in which the municipal plenary sessions take place is
fixed, since it is constrained by predetermined conditions having to do with the time and
place of the production, with external norms that affect the interaction and a good number
of stable spoken formulae that form the situational limits. Despite that, the degree of
attention paid by the speaker to his/her own speech production, which can be modified by
the emotion or involvement in the subject-message, is a paralinguistic aspect similarly
alluded to by Cedergren which can be correlated to the emergence of one or other speech
effect exerted by the extent to which the discourse is prepared on the production of the
speech style, we used a classificatory or categorising scale for the texts based on degree
of preparation or improvisation in the production, established by Castellà (1992: 128).
This classification relates a large number of linguistic modes to a graduated scale of
speaking styles ranging from speech styles where there is absolute control over what is to
be said rituals, such as the greetings or leave-taking formulae to totally
improvised texts, and taking in reading and memorisation of texts on the way
for example radio news broadcasts, texts with a prearranged structure
that enable the free construction of grammatical structure for example
storytelling and improvised texts on a prearranged topic as for example
off-the-cuff statements made by a politician. In our case, we considered that this scale
would enable us to make an initial sorting of the utterances or turns in terms of degree
of preparation. This operation was further enabled, in part, by the presence of numerous
explicit discourse markers of a metalinguistic or performative nature, as in the case, for
example, of the expressions I will read, I will read the exact words, I quote, I
reproduce, turning to the written text, which mark the beginning of the oral delivery
of a written text.
Analysis of a case
hypotheses, formulated in relation to the second general objective of the study
recall that this concerned the analysis of the state and direction of processes of
language variation and change of the five aspects of nominal morphology, (8) state that the reduction of
structural diversity in geographical varieties will increase and will be favoured by
certain social, sociological, linguistic and stylistic conditions. Thus for instance, a
link is established between formal styles, more affected by written norms and prestigious
oral usage; and similarly the younger generations who have been educated in Catalan, will
have their effect on the introduction or production of innovative forms. The results we
obtained, confirmed the trend referred to here, since they show the existence of a clear
tendency to language change in the direction of the standard variety. Thus, in terms of
the features under analysis, three stages or degrees of change could be discerned: (a)
fairly equal alternation between traditional and new forms in the case of the
demonstrative adjectives, (b) the timid advance of the variants with intervocalic
/v/ of the feminine forms of the possessive adjectives, and (c)
the almost total replacement of the local variants of the definite article and the
singular weak (clitic) pronouns and first person plural weak (clitic) pronouns (see Table
1). Regarding the behaviour of the speech style explanatory factor and its influence in
this process, the calculation of the probability indices confirmed that prepared speech
style favoured the loss of the heritage or local variants in the case of the 3 variables
analysed by means of this procedure and, therefore, the increase in the use of the
reinforced forms of the definite article (el, els) and the weak singular pronouns (em,
et, es), and the general variants of the demostrative adjective aquest ("this"),
aquell ("that"). In the variables looked at solely in terms of
percentages, the same tendency could be discerned, that is to say, loss of the analogical
form of the weak pronoun for the first person plural (mos) and of the variants with
/u/ in the case of the feminine possessive adjectives, which evince higher
percentages of loss when in prepared speech style.
We will turn
now to the probability index results in Table 1, which indicate that, over all, the
production of the nominal morphology of the standard language will be significantly
associated with formal speech in North Western Catalan. We observe that in the case of the
masculine definite article linguistic variable, the prepared speech style explanatory
factor favours the non-realisation or loss of the so-called etymological variants (lo,
los), while the effect of the spontaeous speech style factor has the opposite effect.
In the case of the full variants of the singular weak or clitic pronouns, the prepared
speech style factor similarly favours the non-realisation of the full forms, while the
spontaneous speech style factor does not favour it. Lastly, the demonstrative adjective
again shows the same pattern, as expected.
Quantification of the process of linguistic change and of the effect of explanatory
Probability of loss of the heritage
or regional variant (9)
Probability of effect of speech
Masculine definite article
Singular weak pronouns
exploitation of the data offered by GoldVarb 2.0, such as the calculation of frequencies
by cross tabulation, allow us to observe that in all three cases the effect of the
prepared speech style explanatory factor on the loss of the heritage (i.e. regional)
variants is enhanced or increased when associated with the university education &
knowledge of written Catalan factors [older Catalan speakers who went to school in the
time of Franco were educated in Spanish, hence the existence of this factor]. Consequently
the spontaneous speech style factor associated with secondary school and vocational
training & no knowledge of written Catalan, do not favour the loss of the
for the weak first person plural personal pronouns and the feminine possessive pronouns,
which as we have already mentioned were analysed solely in terms of statistical frequency,
since the conditions demanded by GoldVarb for calculation of probabilities were not met,
followed exactly the same patterns as the variables that were processed for probabilities,
confirmed too was the hypothesis we put forward: that a higher percentage of the incoming
variants occurs in prepared speech style. Cross tabulation confirms the pattern found with
the rest of the variables, in that the prepared speech style factor group linked with the
education & knowledge of written Catalan factors, act to cause dialectal convergence.
We have sought
to explain how utterances, seen from the point of view of conversational analysis and
produced in the context of the full sessions of the council, can be related to various
degrees of preparation versus spontaneity and that these circumstances of discourse
production, especially variation in the degree of personal implication, have a significant
effect on the resultant continuum. We have taken as point of departure the fact that the
full sessions of the town council deal with local government business using the oral mode
of production and transmission of the message within the framework of formal oral
discourse. As such, the latter may combine discourse strategies taken from the written
language with others associated with spontaneous oral discourse, using mechanisms of
coherence and repetition associated with reduced rigour in the selection and elaboration
then, emerges as an explanatory factor favouring the incoming forms of the variables we
looked at, that is, the reinforced variants of the masculine definite article, (el, els),
the singular personal pronouns (em, et, es) and the non-velar variants of the
demonstrative adjectives (aquest, aquell).
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