What is 'represented talk'?

  • one of the main form of talk on TV is 'represented talk'

  • it is defined as scripted dialogue which is performed by actors who utter the words in character

  • primarily used in drama, but also in other genres

Represented talk always has a purpose!

  • it is used to establish atmosphere or to help the viewers to predict what is going to happen

  • there is no irrelevant conversation in drama

Scripted conversation as real conversation

  • conversations in drama do not appear to be written beforehand

  • this may follow from the use of everyday speech

  • e.g. "The Royle Family"

Barbara: Bill has loads of money.
Jim: Mmmh.
Barbara: He bought a sliced white.
Jim: What are you telling me that for?

-> it may seem to be an irrelevant conversation, but it is used for very specific reasons (e.g. to establish the special atmosphere of "The Royle Family" as one in which nothing much seems to be happening)

  • but: no pauses while speaking, no silence, no hesitation markers like 'er' or 'em', no interruptions, no false starts, no overlaps (unless they have a certain purpose, e.g. to express feelings like embarrassement)

-> "Structure your scripts like a conversation, but avoid the elements of conversations that make them verbose, redundant, imprecise, rambling, and incomplete." (Mayeux 1994)

Take a look at The Royle Family here:

The Illusion of Realism

  • the illusion of the real shall arise in drama

  • therefore 'realist codes' are used (speech, clothes and gestures of characters, furniture and decoration of their homes...)

-> as "The Royle Family" is a member of the working class, their members speak a regional accent, wear cheap clothes and live in a small and simply furnished flat

  • different genres use different realist codes

cultural realism: codes are drawn from cultural values and beliefs (e.g. how do young people live today?)

fictional realism: codes transgress the world of cultural realism and construct a world that is inhabited with supernatural creatures (e.g. "Buffy", "Charmed")

Women's represented talk

  • represented talk on TV has been male dominated

  • an exception has always been the soap opera (it focusses on female characters as it takes place in domestic or private space and needs women to talk or gossip)

  • talking and gossiping have important narrative functions in soap opera

-> it informs the viewers of plot developments

-> gossiping person is used to generate humour

Foul Language on TV

  • a US study of the PTC analysts (Parents TV Council) examined the development of foul language during the years 1998, 2000 and 2002

  • they found out that in the last years foul language on TV (like swearing -> using words like “bitch” and “ass”) became coarser and more frequent, even during the prime time hours

  • as the connection between behaviour in TV and real life behaviour has been well documented, this is a danger that especially parents want to stop