College of Languages and Translation,

Discourse Analysis: The Effects of Listenerís Identity on the Speakerís Language

Research Methodology

December 18, 2012


The study investigates the effects of the listenerís identity on the speakerís language. In fact, the paper claims that the listenerís social identity, such as power position, gender differences and young age, determines the speakerís language, somehow. It mainly discusses how the listenerís power, gender and age greatly affect the speakerís use of style, politeness and nonverbal communication. Three features are analyzed throughout the paper: power dominance, converserís gender and addresseeís age. The study tests the hypothesis by discussing and analyzing conversations that cast the light on one of the major features. The findings of the study answered the raised question on Ďdoes the listenerís identity affect the speakerís language?í The results show that there is a huge influence on the speakerís language and he/she is aware of the dominance of the listenerís identity most of the time.

Key words: discourse analysis, power, gender, age, nonlinguistic communication

1. Introduction

Since language is a human mean of communication, it has a major part in peopleís everyday life. Other than the way of dealing with language as an abstract ideology or scientific field of study, we actually deal with huge aspects of language while communicating with each other. The communication process rules are used unintentionally or naturally without taking the burden to learn them. It is worth asking ďWere we born with a communication competence?Ē or ďHave we obtained this in the same time we acquired our first language?Ē I mentioned these questions to open the flow of thinking; the answers will be left for further research since it is not the main concern of this research.
While having a conversation, we experience a shift in the way we talk and this happens as a result of many situational aspects. The way we speak with our parents differs entirely from the way we talk to our professors or friends. If we analyze a discourse, we should cast the light on each and every part that plays a role in a conversation. However, the term discourse analysis has been defined by Yule (2006:132) as ďthe study of language beyond the sentence, in text and conversation.Ē Analyzing a discourse in highly important to emphasize many linguistic features and as Dijk (2003:5) said, ďAnalysis of the discourses [Ö] can hardly be called complete if we do not thereby show how a teacher, a boss, or a social worker enacts social roles, shows power, and exerts controlĒ. In fact, the topic of this paper is associated with the idea that the listenerís identity affects the speakerís language. This theme will be discussed in details in this research in order to investigate the hidden factors behind it. It is important to know the identity of the addressee in order to have an appropriate conversation. Many characteristics of the addresseeís identity influence the language which is used.
The aim of this paper is to highlight some of the constraints of the various features of the social context (related to the listener's power, gender and age) that influence the speakerís use of language. These factors determine the speakerís use of style, polite tune and non-verbal language; however, Trappes-Lomax (2004:139) commented on these factors as follows:
Difference in power between speaker and hearer is one of the factors in choosing a strategy to manage a face threatening act; and the mere fact that most forms of discourse analysis invoke, in one way or another, the relationship between language use and social structure ensures that issues of power must always be on the agenda.

There are many objectives which are cited in order to help with achieving the studyís aim. For instance, the paper will explore the previous literature which discussed discourse analysis and everyday social interactions. Also, it will examine and focus on ideologies and power relations in any discourse. Furthermore, there will be some investigation on the factors that affect the speakerís language by observing conversations and experiments of previous studies. Another objective is to recognize how the listenerís identity influences the speakerís language through analyzing the speakerís language. Finally, it will determine the types of effects in the speakerís language if they are structural, lexical, terminological or stylistic.

This research raises a question on how does the listenerís