Dramatic Dialogue Analysis

Language is a natural process of living. It plays a great part in our lives. Its effects are remarkable, and include much of what distinguishes man from animals. We use it to interact with one another, to construct and maintain our interpersonal relations and order. In doing so, we interpret and represent the world for one another and for ourselves. Language is used to store the experiences built up, both personal and collective. It is a tool for constructing knowledge and for constructing meaning.

The study of language is an inquiry into the nature of mind and thought on the assumption that languages are the best mirror of the human mind (Stainton, 1999). Analysis of everyday language use affirms that it is in the realm of art that their challenges are most evident and tangible (Gerbig and Muller-Wood, 2006).

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Linguistics shares a common tradition with literary study. Not so long ago, language and literature were studied together by philologists, who saw the study of both areas as mutually beneficial.

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Later development and the advent of specialization in both fields have oven produced scholars whose work does not cross over form one field to another (Oaks, 1998). Even so, scholars in either discipline regularly voice the truism that there is natural conjunction between literature and linguistics. After all, both fields deal with the raw material of human communication and expression – language. There is a need for interdisciplinary cooperation between the disciplinary identity of linguistics as empirical and descriptive while literary study being interpretative and analytical (Gerbig and Muller-Wood, 2006).

Linguistics helps us to “trust the text” (Gerbig and Muller-Wood, 2006), to interpret the text, rather than impose interpretations upon on it. Application of linguistic empirical tools to literature may not lead to ultimate truths. It can nevertheless bring precision to otherwise often impressionistic treatment of text. There is a need to treat text as interchangeable products of a discursive system. Mogliola (1981) posed the question: “what are the structural conditions for the valid reading of a text, in so far as these conditions are revealed by a phenomenology of interpretative experience?

” Heideggerian hermeneutics takes as its origin the pre-objective oneness of interpreter and phenomenon (be the literary text) – sees in interpretation a reading that is faithful to this oneness. Interpreter is never neutral, but always approaches a text with an explicit or implicit question. Interpretative activity manifests three functions: the interpretative question, the textual aspect, and the interpretation which is the meaning. Any given interpretative question should select and illuminate its affiliated “textual aspect”, an aspect which is there is the text.

Linguistics can place literature more firmly and credibly in its context for other aspects of meaning depend more on the context and the communicative intention of the speakers. Communication clearly depends not only on recognizing the meaning of words in an utterance, but recognizing what speakers mean by their utterances. The principles and rules of grammar are the means by which the forms of language are made to correspond with the universal form of thought. The study of generative grammar represented a significant shift of focus in the approach to problems of language.

The shift focus was from behavior or the products of behavior to states of mind/brain that enter into behavior, the central concern becomes knowledge of language: its nature, origins, and use. The three basic questions arise: ‘What constitute knowledge of language? ’, ‘How is knowledge of language acquired? ’, and ‘How is knowledge of language put to use? ’. The answer to the third question would be a theory how the knowledge of language attained enters into the expression of thought and the understanding of presented specimen of language, and derivatively, into communication, an other special uses of language (Stainton, 1999).

The third question takes an important part in this study, particularly in the performance of the language which main purpose is communication. Communication is conceived as a relation that binds together the three elements: sender, receptionist, and topic. Corresponding to the three elements are three distinct functions: expression, appeal, and representation. These functions consist communicative function depending on what takes the center-stage. The function does exclusively what is represented or depicted in the communicative act.

The three functions become the explicit focus of conversation (Medina, 2005). Alongside communication is conversation. Smith (2001) describes conversation as a process of two people understanding each other. Thus it is a characteristic of every true conversation that each opens himself to the other person, truly accepts his point of view as worthy of consideration and gets inside the other to such an extent that he understands not a particular individual, but what he says.

The thing that has to be grasped is the objective rightness or otherwise of his opinion, so that they can agree with each other as a subject. Furthermore, in conversation, knowledge is not fixed thing or commodity to be grasped. It is an aspect of process. It arises out of interaction. In conversation, there is a to-and-fro play of dialogue. Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. It is culturally and historically specific way of conceiving certain verbal transactions and as such has considerable rhetorical force (Maranhao, 1990).

The root sense of dialogue is that of talk (logos) that goes across or back and forth (dia). In contemporary English, dialogue is a conversation of two persons. At formal level, it is an economics of verbal exchange. In the functional usage of dialogue, a text or social interaction is treated as a social field across which multiple voices and multiple cultural logics contend with each other (Tedlock and Mannheim, 1995). What makes something as dialogue? The spirit of its participants of the form its utterances take?

In Plato’s inception, dialogue has always been and continues to be programmatically liminal: interstructural, between two states or conditions, essentially unstructured rather than structured by contradictions; because of its deliberate avoidance of closure and finality. It serves perpetually as a vehicle for reformulating old elements into new patterns. Dialogue provides a meeting ground, community, and manifests itself in a variety of spontaneous and ritual modes of discourse in which nature and structure meet.

Understood as a conceptualization of a kind of discourse and also a way of viewing and interpreting discourse, dialogue shares with narrative the characteristic of being atemporal, existing in many times and places. As discourse phenomena, it is internally atemporal. It does not talk about events in time; instead it spans in ‘dialectic event (i. e, discourse event) and meaning’; it presents utterances, ideas, and undertakings in nonlinear, recursive, diaeretical, and synthesizing sequences (Maranhao, 1990). Treating dialogue as an ideal evidently has an ethical implication.

Furthermore, when a particular mode of communication is chosen as a model of dialogue, it becomes identified with the sense of goodness or rightness adhering in the ideal to the exclusion of other modes of communication. (Maranhao,1990). Spoken and written languages are what Maranhao (1990) termed as modes of communication. Although written and spoken languages are very different, they are not easy to separate. In fact, they are closely intertwined, and in daily life people participate in literacy events where reading and writing are mixed with spoken language and with other means of communication.

Writing is based on speech in some very real ways; spoken language is the basis for the most people’s learning of written language, for instance, and the very form of written language gets inspiration form spoken language. However, other aspects of communication come into play with written language. Most significantly, it is visual: laid out in some way and displayed. The importance of the role design, layout and other aspect of the physical context should be evident and they form part of what is meant by writing.

Writing enables us to go much further than spoken language: its ability to fix things in space and time. Writing results in text. It extends the functions of language, and enables to do different things (Barton, 2006). It is in the realm of art where study of language is evident and tangible. Dramatic dialogue, the interplay between written and spoken language, fits for the study. It is therefore desirous to investigate the workings of dramatic dialogue. Dramatic dialogues usually serve a number of purposes such as developing the plot, and presenting the characters and providing information about them.

Playwrights attempt to achieve balance between some features of actual speech and the employment of dialogue by putting not too much closeness to actual speech so as not to make dialogues dull and uninteresting (Al-Rubai’i and Al-ani, 2004). Dramatic dialogues (plays) exist in two ways – on the page and on the stage. It is therefore necessary to adhere to the argument that sensitive understanding of plays (explicitly contains dramatic dialogue) can be arrived at through “mere reading” through linguistic analyses that dramatic text contains very rich indications as to how they should be performed.

Dramatic dialogue takes into account that one crucial aspect in which drama differs from poetry and fiction is in its emphasis on verbal interaction, and the very relationship between people are constructed and negotiated through what they say. It is where linguistics takes into its own. Linguistics, and the techniques of discourse analyses in particular, can help analyze the exchanges between characters, in order to: help us understand the text, help us understand how conversation works, and allow us to appreciate better the skill demonstrated by the playwright (Thornborrow and Wareing, 1998).

Chapter 2 Dialogue as discourse is characterized by a fundamental structural principle: it is interactive and interactional. It is a mode of speech exchange among participants, speech in relation to another speech not merely the verbal expression of one character or actors’ part. In the study of dialogue as interaction, the dramatic text as written text, addresses a context of performance which requires a change in mode of discourse – the transformation and transmutation of the written lines into dynamics of speech, which involve more than recitation of the lines by the actors (Herman, 1995).

In the study of dramatic dialogue, understanding the workings of the dialogue as interaction and conversational speech versus dramatic speech are taken into account. It is also important to note that dramatic dialogue, taking part in the speech exchange system, must be safeguarded from conversation in order to preserve the formers’ ‘literary’ quality (Herman, 1995). In the construction of conversational practices and actions, participants use co-occurring structures and devices from different levels of linguistic organization as well as the employment of linguistic features in conversation.

In the linguistic analyses of dramatic dialogue, Gricean semantics and analyses on the linguistic features: turns, pauses or silences, adjacency pairs, chaining, and back channel support, will be employed. According to Gricean Semantics, in ordinary conversation exchanges, there is much more to the meaning of an utterance than what appears on the grammatical and logical surface: utterances often convey things other than what they literally mean and they often imply things other than what they strictly entail.

The adequate understanding of meaning requires the processing of what has been termed as ‘an invited inference’. Grice formulated the maxims as follows: ‘Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as possible, but not more informative or less informative that is required (Maxims of Quantity); ‘Do not say what you believe to be false’ and ‘Do not say that which for you lack adequate evidence (Maxims of Quality); ‘Avoid obscurity’, ‘Avoid ambiguity’, ‘Be brief’, Be orderly’ (Maxims of Manner), and ‘Be relevant’ (Maxims of Relevance).

According to Grice, all these different maxims are corollaries of the most fundamental principle of communication that governs all conversation. This is what he called as Cooperative Principle which read as follows: ‘Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk-exchange in which you all engaged. ’ (Medina, 2005).

The central premise of the Gricean approach is that the communicative intention of a normal speaker under normal circumstances conforms to the cooperative principle and the conversational maxims that derive from it. For Gricean semantics, the speakers’ conversational contributions are governed first and foremost by these general rules of cooperative communication, rather than by the semantic conventions that fix word-meanings and sentence-meanings. It is also important to note that intended meanings of speakers can depart sometimes even wildly like that of ironic utterances.

Grice’s analyses of intended meanings put a lot of weight in the speaker’s communicative intentions undermining the traditional emphasis on linguistic conventions, which on his view become mere tools to be used and bent in all kinds of ways (Medina, 2005). One of the linguistic features in conversation which tends to be modified in dramatic dialogue is the way turns are taken, the way people having a conversation organize who is going to speak next.

Schegloff (1995) had the idea that syntax of spoken language in interaction should be looked upon as resource that is deployed and exploited for the organization of turns and sequence in conversation. Turn-taking is one important communication skill emerging during preverbal routines. It is a mechanism use to reorganize conversation so that interactants smoothly exchange speaking consequences. Through turn-taking, participants coordinate their conversational contributions to each other.

Turn-taking works as the onset of dialogue and is a prerequisite for latter emergence of communicative rule (Haslett and Samter, 1997). In general, for the construction of conversational practices and actions, participants use co-occurring structures and devices from different levels of linguistic organization, not only from prosodic, phonetic-phenological, but also form morpho-syntactic and lexico-semantic structures in turns-at-talk in their sequential context. The possible types for turn constructional units (TCU), for English, are sentential, clausal, phrasal, and lexical.

Syntactic units are important resources for the construction of TCU and turns. TCU is a linguistic unit in talk constructed in the interplay of syntax and prosody in its sequential context. For spoken language in interaction, syntactic entities like sentences are not to be conceived as static or fixed, but flexible. That is why when talking about transmission relevance placed as the relevant loci for the negotiation of turn-taking; ends of sentences, clauses or phrases etc. are not talked about but the ‘possible completion points’ of sentences, clauses, phrases, and one-word construction.

It is the flexibility of the possible syntactic unit that enables them to be used for the organization of turn-taking in conversation (Hakulinen and Selting, 2005). In the construction of conversation, participants are not concerned with the construction of units as such, but the construction of units is contingent upon practices or activities such as holding, organizing, and yielding the turn. TCUs are not themselves relevant for participants, but for the practices and activities of turn-taking and activity constitution (Haslett and Samter, 1997).

Updated: Jul 07, 2022
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Dramatic Dialogue Analysis. (2016, Aug 22). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/dramatic-dialogue-analysis-essay

Dramatic Dialogue Analysis essay
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