14 Apr 2013

Spoken Language Study David Cameron Model Essay: GCSE Controlled Assessment

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This is for the GCSE Controlled Assessment for Spoken Language Study. It focusses on two transcripts of David Cameron's language in different contexts. If there are any technical terms you don't understand use the glossary which I link to at the bottom of the post.

Question Set
How and why does David Cameron vary his language in these transcripts? (from The One Show, and This Morning)

This is a fairly short summary, with picks up only on a few of the major similarities and differences. There are other ways to do this than the one I chose. It mostly focusses on AUDIENCE, CONTEXT and STYLE of language (persuasive, expository, intimate)

Both transcripts are taken from magazine format shows, with a pair of interviewers, but the audiences vary. The One Show deals with political issues, with questions from members of the public dealing with the difficult issue of harsh government cuts which pushes Cameron into a defensive position, with a mixture of governmental jargon and slang as he tries to both persuade and explain his actions, using a good deal of inclusive language ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. In contrast, the interview with This Morning, is far more intimate, expository and informal, appealing to the demographic of this show’s audience: stay at home mums, retired people and the unemployed.

This paragraph analyses one of the programmes, focussing on use of JARGON and STATISTICS, with some analysis of why.

The context and topic of the One Show shapes Cameron’s language. He precisely explores the situation using formal governmental jargon about ‘the defecit’, ‘taxation’ (rather than ‘tax’), ‘the economy’ and ‘overseas aid’, ‘threshold of income tax’ as well as acronyms like ‘the NHS’. He can use these becuase it is presumed the the audience of a political magazine based show would be familiar with these terms, which would not need to be explained, although in places, Cameron does use analogies to re-present his ideas in a more simple form, as where he uses the colloquial phrase ‘max out your credit card’ to explain why debts have to be controlled. He uses facts and explicitly cites a ‘stunning statistic’, blended with emotive value-based language to back up his argument, like ‘only 1 in 10, 11%’, cites the exact price of diesel as ‘£1.30’ - to show he’s in touch with the issues that most concern working voters - as this is the segment he is targeting in this programme, shown after most people have returned from work. As his party came into power with a minority, and governs in a coalition, it is particularly important for Cameron as leader of his party to show that it is in touch with the specific concerns of the people.

This is a neat paragraph as it ONLY deals with Cameron’s use of PROUNOUNS in one of the programmes - with analysis of why. Easy!
In the One Show, Cameron makes interesting use of personal pronouns, signifying his sense of self is public, or corporate. He almost always uses ‘we’, not ‘I’. In some cases ‘we’ means ‘we the nation’ - an appeal to patriotism, and togetherness, suggesting ‘we’re all in it together’, and in other places ‘we’ the government. This may be used for one of two reasons - firstly to diffuse blame for this sticky problem, two to suggest a united front as Cameron is part of a delicate co-alition that relies heavily on the Lib Dems for support, and more inclusive language appeals to Lib Dem pride.

This is another neat paragraph as it only deals with SEMANTIC FIELDS at the start, though this one deals with both programmes, and compares them
Cameron uses different semantic fields in each programme. It’s interesting to see how he opens each interview. In This Morning, he starts with ‘legendary’, ‘fantastic’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘amazing’, all positive words referring to his wife, which could be aimed to appeal to an audience of housewives. In The One Show, he also uses positive language, comparatives and superlatives such as ‘bigger’ ‘biggest’, ‘far far more’ which uses emphatic repetition, but this is in a far more negative context as his topic is ‘the defecit’. What’s interesting here is that though he’s describing a problem, he uses positive language, to create a more upbeat view. He constantly shifts blame by saying it’s a problem ‘we inherited’, which he repeats twice in quick succession. He downplays the problem by euphemistic language like ‘the situation’ to neutralise any incipient panic. 

This essay is not finished. It’s just to give you an idea of the style...

Glossary of Technical Terms: Spoken Language Study (GCSE)

Critical Views on language use, tailored to David Cameron