Phatic Talk Essay
Due to the GSP of the show, some phatic talk will be included in Best of Friends. There are sections in the show that are devoted specifically to phatic talk, and the participants are asked to give a little background information on themselves and their friendship: “Well, I first came to the school in Year 3 and I met Isfahan and Talia and then I met Diphda in Year 5 and Maisie in Year 4”. The presenters often get the participants together to talk amongst themselves, especially when deciding on how the game will continue: “So you lot have a little chat, and we’ll leave you to it”.
The phatic talk is mostly used to fill the audience in on certain aspects of the show (i. e. explaining the rules) and to help the show fill out more. In Raven, there is much less phatic talk than Best of Friends, which may be influenced by the GSP and the genre of the show. Only when they are participating in the challenges is there phatic talk, as the participants are all talking and shouting instructions at each other: “Pass that one forward, alright, quick!
” The lack of phatic talk is influenced by the structure (GSP) of the show, which focuses more on showing the action of the challenges than the contestants conversing, and the formality of the show means that phatic talk is omitted. Beat the Boss has the most phatic talk out of all three of the shows. The GSP and structure of the show influence this, because to be able to succeed in the game the participants must talk amongst themselves: “Ah, these are to be thrown into the water and you have to match them up” and there is a lot of phatic talk between adults and children to show the progress of the competition.
The phatic talk is for the audience’s benefit as well as the participants. Use of humour and praise In Best of Friends there is significant use of both humour and praise. The show starts with a “gag” between the presenters, which is for the audience’s benefit: “Uh-oh! Rani obviously doesn’t know she has spinach in her teeth! ” and they also add in a pun: “You suck! ” to mitigate failure, for humour purposes. There are examples of rehearsed songs for humorous effect: “We rule, we’re cool, we are the Best of Friends!
” In additional sections of the show, it shows the presenters failing at the tasks the participants succeeded at and allowing the participants to try an Indian head massage on the presenter without their knowledge, again for humour and for the benefit of the audience and the participants. There is also quite a bit of praise used towards the participants, especially when doing tasks: “Congratulations! “, “Excellent stuff! ” and “well done! ” The presenters also encourage the children by getting them to clap and cheer when they have succeeded, perhaps to make them feel more secure and confident in the TV situation.
In Raven there is much less humour used than in Best of Friends, probably due to the GSP of the show and the genre of the show. The lack of humour is due to the formal, archaic format of the show and this helps put forward the “challenge” aspect of the game. However, Raven uses a lot of praise when talking about his contestants: “Wenra, Kinsa, Dejan, you certainly work well together as a team” and “Wenra has shown great promise from the beginning”.
This is done to help reassure the contestants and to encourage them as they are faced with quite a formal situation and have to try and understand the archaic language he uses, therefore the praise helps them deal with the situation. Beat the Boss is a complete opposite to both Best of Friends and Raven in the sense that it has more humour and almost no praise used towards the contestants. The humour is projected in the form of “puns” such as “dive into this watery challenge” and “a brand new pool play product that will create a splash with your mates!
” Which is mainly for the audience’s benefit rather than the contestants’. The contestants only have a small amount of interaction with the presenter therefore there was little humour or praise directed to the contestants from the presenter, unlike the other two shows I studied which had much more presenter-contestant interaction. Main Section: Effect of genre on discourse GSP In Best of Friends the introduction structure is the same one used for each show, the formal salutation, the comic interlude and then the title card sequence, which is all audience interaction.
The presenters then, in another structured sequence get the participants to each introduce one another, for example: “Clieo is sporty; she loves her guinea pigs and can also be very silly” and then asks the contestants a series of questions, such as: “How did you meet” and “What sort of things do you do outside of the classroom”, which is used to reassure the contestants and help the audience get to know the participants. In Raven there is also a GSP structure, there is first an introduction sequence, showing the name of the show and introducing the actor who plays the character of Raven.
“Raven” then recaps the previous show and tells the audience what is happening in this particular show “The quest to find the ultimate champion reaches a pivotal stage. These six return from past victories… ” This is to help the audience follow what is going on. The genre of the show is carefully followed throughout the entire show, with Raven using archaic language and a formal tone. The participants are then introduced and their past appearance on Raven.
In Beat the Boss, much like the other TV shows I studied, there is a GSP structure, the introduction sequence is the same used for each show, however “quotes” from the participants on this particular show are edited in, which is used for audience interaction. Beat the Boss comes across as scripted, with heavy use of puns: “dive into this watery challenge” for audience entertainment. The participants are then introduced with little facts about them, for the aid of the audience. Audience Needs When a presenter has both a TV audience and participants, this means they then have a multiple audience.
This means that the presenter has to balance entertainment and explanation between the participants and the audience to ensure that neither are excluded or bored. In Best of Friends the presenters have a slightly young audience, around 10-12 years old, which means there needs to be more explanation of the rules of the game, but also more entertainment to prevent the participants and the audience switching off. This means that there is a great deal of audience interaction within the show, such as the introduction sequence, a small anecdote between the presenters, designed for light-hearted entertainment and to draw in the audience.
The introduction sequence includes a brief summary of how the game works: “5 friends, 3 tasks, 3 treats, One is down to luck, the rest is their choice, Will they play fair? Will they play dirty? Will they still be- the Best of Friends? ” This is for the audiences benefit as it helps them to better understand how the show works, but in an entertaining manner. Also in the programme one of the presenters “breaks the fourth wall” and speaks to the audience via the camera rather than the participants, again to help the audience feel more involved in the show.
In other sections of the show, small “jokes” are present, such as when the presenter fails the task whilst the participants managed to complete it, and when the presenter gets a head massage from the participants and not from the masseuse. These are all designed to entertain the children and make them laugh. In Raven the target audience is slightly older (between 13 and 14) therefore there doesn’t need to be as much entertainment and explanation than in Best of Friends which means the presenter doesn’t need to balance the entertainment and explanation, although some of each is needed.
The participants are each introduced, which helps the audience relate with them. When explaining the game rules, Raven doesn’t stop using his archaic language: “Warriors, I trust you remember the slippery characters who inhabit this dank dale”, which indicates that his target audience doesn’t need him to simplify the rules for them or make them seem more entertaining. In Beat the Boss there is much more audience interaction than participant interaction, which indicates that the target audience needs interaction for them to be engaged in the show.
The introduction sequence, like Best of Friends, has a brief summary of how the game works: “3 Bright Sparks, 3 Big Shots, 2 new products, but only ONE team can win. BEAT THE BOSS” which is again for the audiences’ benefit as they now know what to expect from the show, as it is also interspersed with clips from the show. There is a frequent use of puns by the presenter: “dive into this watery challenge” which is for audience entertainment.
Like the other children’s shows, the participants are each introduced to the audience, to help them relate with the participants. Participants and Game Rules In Best of Friends, there is a lot of detail when the presenters tell the participants (and ultimately the audience) the game rules. The presenters use informal and colloquial vocabulary such as: “All right then, in this bag are five sweets, three sweets are blue and if you have a blue tongue then you will be doing the first task, however the other two sweets will mean you get a treat!
” This may be to do with the genre of the show as well as the average age of the participants and audience, as the show is generally aimed at 10-12 year olds who may need more detailed game rules so they can understand what to do and the colloquial language is to connect with the participants and the audience. The game task is called “Roving Reporter” which utilises alliteration and is easy to remember, again to help the participants and contestants.
In Raven, the target audience and participants are slightly older than the audience/participants in Best of Friends, around 13/14 therefore the game rules are slightly less detailed than in Best of Friends, with the added difficulty of Raven’s formal, archaic way of talking: “Use these plinths to avoid touching the ground, for should you do so the snakes will overcome you” This shows that the genre and target audience of the show affects how much detail and help is show when the game rules are explained.
In Beat the Boss the game rules are explained in a similar way to Best of Friends: “Three Bright Sparks compete against three Big Shots” The presenter uses a lot of alliteration and puns, such as “awesome aquatic amusement” and “Your brief is to create a brand-new pool play product that will create a splash with your mates! ” which adds to the light-hearted fun genre of the programme. The target audience and participants of the show are around the same as Best of Friends (11-13) which is maybe why the game rules are explained similarly to Best of Friends.
Questions In Best of Friends the presenters use questions in order for them to find out information about their participants. Their questions are geared towards the participants’ friendship and what they do together: “Clieo, why don’t you tell us, how did you all meet? ” and “How do you think you’ll be able to prove to everyone watching and to us that you are the best of friends? ” This is to help the presenters get to know their participants a little bit more and also to help the audience relate with the participants.
As well as general questions, the presenters also ask rhetorical questions, such as in the introduction: “Will they play fair? Will they play dirty? Will they still be- the Best of Friends? ” This is for the audiences’ benefit, as it is directed towards them and makes them wonder about the outcome of the show. In Raven the presenter uses mostly rhetorical questions, such as “Sarla brims with confidence and certainly has a head for heights. Is it enough to take him to the top? ” and he asks very little general questions towards his participants, and Raven rarely clarifies the rules with his participants via questions.
He tends to tell his participants rather than ask them, which means he doesn’t try to interact with his participants, and therefore doesn’t interact with the audience, unlike Best of Friends. In Beat the Boss the presenter asks questions to convey the participants’ feelings: “Hello, how are you feeling? ” “How do you feel knowing there is a brief in here? ” which helps the audience relate with the participants. The presenter doesn’t ask questions about the participants’ life and interests, as these are already shown in a short summary.
Questions don’t have a large role in Beat the Boss, which indicates that there is not much audience-presenter interaction. Conclusion My aim was to explore fully what linguistic choices children’s TV presenters make in order to accommodate for their young participants and target audiences. I found that the presenters of each show used different linguistic choices; the Best of Friends presenters used mainly colloquial lexis and grammar. Similarly, the participants responded with colloquial and informal lexis and grammar, which indicated accommodation between presenter and participant.
However the Raven presenter used more formal lexis and grammar, and also tended to use archaic linguistic choices, which meant that there was less accommodation between Raven and his participants. The Beat the Boss presenter tended to use formal lexis, but there was also a heavy use of “puns”, for the audience benefit, which showed only a little accommodation between presenter and participants. The discrepant level of accommodation is influenced by the differing sub-genres of each show.
I found that the shows’ genres did have an observable effect on how much they did or did not accommodate to their participants. I found that the show with a more formal genre, i. e. Raven, tended to not accommodate to their participants as much as the more informal show, i. e. Best of Friends, who did accommodate with their participants on many occasions. Each show did to some degree share a structural pattern, all the shows introduced the presenters, then the participants and then they explained the game rules and then actually performed the game, with some variation, again because of the differing sub-genres.
A significant finding therefore seems to be that the GSP affects the level of accommodation in this genre. Every show had obvious differences in their level of formality, lexical choice and use of humour and praise, despite them being the same genre (children’s TV quiz show), with the Best of Friends presenters using a lot of laughter and jokes with their participants, the Raven presenter talking to his participants in an adult, formal, archaic tone and the Beat the Boss presenter barely interacting with the participants at all.
Each of the shows’ presenters are accommodating to a multiple audience, namely the TV audience and the participants, and each show balanced the accommodation between audience and participants differently: Best of Friends accommodated equally to both TV audience and participants, Raven tended to accommodate to both, albeit a very small amount and the Beat the Boss presenter tended to accommodate more to the audience than her participants.
The need to consider the multiple audiences often affected the amount of accommodation. I found little similarity between how much accommodation each presenter of each show gives, which may be to do with the differing sub-genres of each show affecting how much accommodation was used.
Subject: Talk show,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 July 2017
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