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For your final research paper, you will analyze the communicative effects of some aspects of one or more linguistic performances, attending to at least two different levels of linguistic analysis. The paper should be 6-8 double-spaced pages and NO PLAGIARISM.
“Analyze” means “explain on the basis of specific examples and general principles.”
“Communicative effects” means “the (likely) effects on a real or hypothetical interlocutor or listener.” This can be construed very broadly: the interpretation of the literal meaning; the perception of dialect; the relationship to social stereotypes or cultural norms; the generation of an emotional response; the control of turn-taking; or many other things.
“Linguistic performance” means a recording of a conversation, speech, or monologue. You may also compare two such recordings. Songs are not permitted.
“Attending to at least two different levels of linguistic analysis” means that you should discuss two or more of the standard levels of linguistic analysis: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics. The two levels might be connected to a single communicative effect, for example if you looked at the use of pitch range and sentence structure in quoted dialogue; or the relationship of pronunciation and lexical choice to dialect perception; or the rhetorical use of timing and parallelism. However, you can also consider several linguistic aspects of a passage with respect to several different kinds of effect.
You are not absolutely required to use English data, but if you choose to work with some other language, you will need to provide detailed translations (which will mean extra work for you). Also, be sure you are fully fluent (native-like) in the language you choose — otherwise, you won’t be able to adequately analyze it.
In sum, the main constraints are (1) to deal with (at least one) specific spoken passage, and (2) to look in detail at the relationship between linguistic form and communicative effect. There should be some sort of overall point. For example, it’s not enough to break a passage down into morphemes and also show its syntactic structure.
Examples of Possible Projects
Your material might come from political rhetoric, advertisements, podcasts, stand-up comedy, TV or movies, recordings of classrooms, Supreme Court oral arguments, or recordings of your family at dinner — pretty much any linguistic data. You might aim to analyze why a particular piece of speech is especially effective — or especially annoying — for a specific audience; or you might try to explain the nature of a particular kind of accent or a particular way of talking.
Some interesting sample topics from past projects:
Hindi-English code switching in conversation
A comparative linguistic analysis of Broca’s aphasia and Wernicke’s aphasia
Linguistic clues in U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments to justice’s eventual votes
Association between regional accent and perception of intelligence