chapter  2
18 Pages

Approaches to Talk

As Short (1989: 149) has pointed out, drama dialogue is helpfully conceptualized as embedded discourse. On one level, characters speak to each other. At the same time, however, this discourse is ‘overheard’ by viewers or readers, and thus another level of communication occurs between the playwright (or perhaps more appropriately the text) and the audience. As was demonstrated in Chapter 1, explicit linguistic knowledge of the nature of talk can be very valuably brought to bear on the interpretation of this deeper level of communication. By appealing to models of talk in the study of drama, it is possible to distinguish dialogue that is represented as ‘normal’ from dialogue that is represented as ‘odd’. That is, there is a systematic and explicit basis for identifying conversational patterns in the text that are essentially mimetic, and those that deviate from the norm in some way (Short 1989: 145; Carter 1982: 5). In so doing, it is also possible to investigate why texts provoke the reactions and impressions that they do (Toolan 2000: 186).