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The sociolinguistic construction of character diversity in fictional television series

Reichelt, Susan ORCID: 2018. The sociolinguistic construction of character diversity in fictional television series. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis investigates the language used in six fictional television series (1997 – 2014). The overall aim is to find out how linguistic patterns contribute to distinguishing features of characters and character groups. Throughout the thesis, I answer three overarching questions: 1.How are individual linguistic variables used for purposes of characterization? 2.How do linguistic variables interact to create linguistic character styles? 3.Are characterization patterns used in similar ways across characters within individual series, as well as across series? The thesis presents an interdisciplinary study of sociolinguistically meaningful stylization and produces a useful account of the underused fictolinguistic approach that links concepts of variationist sociolinguistics with stylistics. Through quantitative analysis and informed by previous sociolinguistic findings on the uses of five pragmatic forms (pragmatic markers, hedges, general extenders, modal adverbs, and intensifiers), I trace how language variation and change ties in with the individualization of fictional characters. Findings suggest that linguistic patterns that link to character qualities are consistent across a variety of investigated features. Further, some features (e.g. pragmatic markers) appear to be used with greater variance than others (e.g. general extenders), suggesting that there are distinctions in terms of saliency and availability of characterization cues. Further findings show linguistic variation correlating to particular character types, series production and genre, and character background (in particular nationality). Linguistic change is investigated through apparent time analyses for all features, as well as a brief real time analysis for selected contexts. Throughout the thesis, I touch upon concepts of indexicality, saliency, and authenticity. Finally, the thesis concludes that the present study of fictional television dialogue adds to our understanding of current language use and linguistic perception and that more studies of this kind might further enhance our knowledge of the intrinsic relation between language and identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 September 2018
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 11:26

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