What is language used for in the Media? Language (by
which I mean mainly foreign language, or non-standard
language ) use
in the media is, as we have seen in print media, not authentic .
Authentic language would be undoctored, exactly as people in `real life'
use it, in situations where people are not paying attention (`monitoring')
their language use, and are not thinking about what people might be doing
to judge their language use (or make judgements about
them). When we do find authentic language in the
media, it is either in documentaries of some sort, or perhaps in
television interviews in emergency situations, where people are not
monitoring, as, e.g. in the recent hurricane coverage. In other kinds of interviews
(talk shows etc.) people are
more conscious of their speech. Even less authentic, because it is more formal, and
more controlled, is the speech of
television announcers when reading news to us. So there seems to be a
scale of authenticity, from real, spontaneous, unguarded use, to formal,
controlled, artificial(?) use.
In the media, as we have seen in print media, language is used for
effect of some sort:
- Language is used for flavor or
- It attracts our attention as
leaf through a magazine,
gives a taste of something more sophisticated, different, exotic.
- In fashion ads
it tries to associate the language sample with
our stereotypical notions of that particular fashion (designer, country,
whatever) usually French or
In food ads, it tries to convey an
authentic flavor of the food tradition in
British accents may have a particular use in the media
and in advertising; for
some comments on
the use of British accents see this
from the Phila. Enquirer 4/15/98. See also
site that deals with the issue of authenticity, or lack of it, in
Scottish accents found in films etc. And finally, see also this movie review
that claims that
American popular culture tends to equate British
accents with 'questionable moral stature.'
- Emotion: Language is used to express
, perhaps metaphorically. Any display of emotion through
the voice is often accompanied by register shift or even dialect shift,
that if anger or sadness or happiness is carried by the voice, we
recognize this through various characteristics, even if the facial
expression, body language etc. don't show this. The ability to show
emotion is usually considered to be a human (or humanoid) ability,
so emotion will not be shown if the
character/creature is not supposed to be represented as possessing human
characteristics. Indeed, the character 'Data' in StarTrek can't understand
emotion(s), and many other 'android' characters lack this ability as well,
even lacking the ability to convey expression in their voices.
- Language use or shift is used to capture our attention in
way, perhaps by a register shift (starts in one register, shifts
to another). See this document
a Microsoft ad for a CD on Schubert.
- "Foreign language" use in these ads is often lacking in authenticity,
i.e. it is not what the French or Italians or the Biker guy, or whatever
would actually say or do. Sometimes the expectation is that we
it is authentic; sometimes it plays on our knowledge that it is not.