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3rd project: Stylisation in Media

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Agurtzane Elordui

on 22 November 2017

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Transcript of 3rd project: Stylisation in Media

3rd project:
Style in media: language
for characterization

High Performance and identity stylisation
Speakers design their talk in the awareness of alternative possibilities and of likely outcomes.

There is a distinction to be drawn between 'mundane performance' and 'high performance'

'Mundane performance' refers to acts of styling in regular, daily interactions.
High performance
Particular features
(Bauman 1992)
They are scheduled events, pre-announced and planned, and therefore programmed

They are typically public events in that the membership of the audience will not be especially exclusive

They are events such events as public speeches, stage performances, and television shows and movies
Coupland (2007)
. Cambridge University Press (6th chapter)
Communicative Focusing
Form focusing
: the poetic and metalinguistic functions of language comes to the fore and considerations of style become particularly salient.
Meaning focusing
: there is an intensity a density and a depth to utterances or actions.
Relational focusing
: Performances are for audiences not just to audiences (audience designed)
Mikhail Bakhtin 1981, Rampton 2006
Stylisation has both specific and general meanings:
an artistic image of another's language

it is also a general quality of language use, not only 'artistic'

Defining criteria of stylisation
Coupland 2007; Rampton 2006
Stylised utterances (acts of speaking)
project personas, identities
and genres other than those that are presumably current in the speech event.

Projected personas and genres derive from
well-known identity repertories
even though they may not be represented in full.
Defining criteria of stylisation
Stylisation is fundamentally
Its brings into play
stereotyped ideological values
associated with other groups, situations or times
Stylisation can be analysed as
strategic inauthenticity
Lippi-Green (1997 ) 24 Disney movies (1938-1994)
to determine whether
systematic patterns
exist regarding the portrayals of characters who speak with certain accents
how these patterns help reaffirm societal
stereotypes of the speakers of these varieties
Films for Children
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney 1996),
Anastasia (Warner Brothers1997)
Mulan (Disney 1998)
Shark Tale (DreamWorks 2004)
Over the Hedg (DreamWorks 2006)
Happy Feet (Warner Brothers 2006)
Toy Story (Pixar 1995),
A Bug’s Life (Disney 1998)
Tarzan (Disney 1999)
Shrek (DreamWorks 2001)
Monsters,Inc. (Disney/Pixar 2001)
Ice Age (20th Century Fox 2002),
Finding Nemo (Disney/Pixar 2003),
Madagascar (DreamWorks 2005)
Cars (Disney/Pixar 2006)
Ratatouille (Disney/Pixar 2007)
Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks 2008

Both studies revealed that
Standard American English
-speakers make up many of the characters in the films
Both found this proportion to be
around 50%


It indicates an
increase in speakers of regional US accents
and speakers with
foreign accents
, and a
decrease in speakers of Standard British English (SBE)
and other English varieties.

Speakers of
SBE are portrayed more negatively
than before with respect to character role while speakers with
foreign accents are portrayed much more positively
than before

To understand
how accent use serves to reproduce and sustain cultural stereotypes
and to aid in character portrayal.

Negative stereotypes
associated with African American Vernacular English, Hispanic English and New York English.

Less overtly negative, or
, such as those associated with Minnesotan English.

Accent, Stereotypes, and Characterization in Children’s Animated Films

Azad 2009
(1995 and 2008)
Comparation between films Lippi-Green’s (1997) and Azad's (2009) analysis

Negative Stereotypes: The Portrayal of African American Vernacular English Speakers
Both Lippi-Green’s (1997):
African American Vernacular
English speaking characters as
irresponsible and lazy

Lippi-Green (1997, 94) argues that
AAVE speakers
are portrayed as
“show[ing] no purpose in life,”
, showing a
“lack of responsibility”

One such portrayal of an AAVE speaker can be found in the movie Mulan.

(1) Great Ancestor: Silence! We must send the most powerful of all.
(2) Mushu: (laughs) Okay, okay,
[monophthong] get the
[monophthong] go.
(3) Guardian Ancestors: (uproarious laughter)
(4) Mushu: Oh
don’t think I can do it? Watch
this [dIs]

here [r-less]
(releases a tiny breath of fire) Ha! Jump back, I’m pretty hot, eh?
make me have to singe
to prove
(5) Great Ancestor: You had your chance to protect the Fa family!
(6) Ancestor 1: Your misguidance led Fa Theng to disaster!
(7) Fa Theng: Yeah. Thanks a lot.
(8) Mushu: And your point is?
(9) Great Ancestor: The point is, we will be sending a real dragon to retrieve Mulan.
(10) Mushu: What? What?
[monophthong] a real dragon!
(11) Great Ancestor: You are not worthy of this spot!

Azad 2009
Certain phonological, syntactic, and lexical features
of Mushu’s speech are present that serve to
mark him as a speaker of AAVE
and index his membership in the social group
“African American'

monophthongized diphthongs (e.g., lines 2 and 10)
consonant cluster reduction (line 2)
non-rhoticity (line 4)
the production of fricatives as stops (line 4)
negative concord (line 4)
lexical item
(line 4).

Azad 2009
Features of the character:
Mushu as
He is
not respected
by his peers.

portrayals are in contrast
to the portrayals of the other characters in these scenes, who are not cast as irresponsible and are not speakers of AAVE.
is the
only AAVE-speaking character
in the whole movie
It is set
in China
(where one would not typically expect to hear many AAVE-speaking persons).
The use of AAVE appears then to function more as
a tool for characterization

Azad 2009
Negative Stereotypes: The Portrayal of Hispanic English Speakers
Azad 2009
The presence of Hispanic accents in animated movies appears to be
a recent phenomenon;
these accents do not appear to occur in either Lippi-Green’s analysis.

A quote by Lippi-Green (1997) may shed light on the situation: “A study of accents in animated cartoons over time is likely to reveal the way linguistic
stereotypes mirror the evolution of national fears
” .

It could be argued that in present-day America there is a preoccupation—and perhaps a fear—concerning issues of immigration.

This may, according to Lippi-Green, explain the presence of Hispanic accents in recent movies.
Mulan (Disney 1998)

These penguins, who all have Hispanic accents, are portrayed as a
misfit group
who like to
spend their days partying and having fun
(1) Amigo 1: That’s no rock, hombre. It’s [its] love stones [dentalized t].
(2) Mumble: Huh?
(3) Amigo 2: For building [bildIŋ] the nest.
(4) Amigo 3: The one with the most pebbles wins [winz].
(5) Amigo 4: You know,
chica chica [tʃika] boom boom.
(Mumble notices that the Amigos have not built any nests)
(6) Mumble: You’re not interested in-
in chicas
(7) Amigos: Hey!
(8) Amigo 1: You kidding?!
(9) Amigo 2: Without us, the
chicas [tʃikaz]
got no boom!
(10) Mumble: So why aren’t you collecting pebbles?
(11) Amigo 3: Pebbles, shmebbles, man!
(12) Amigo 2: We got personality!

Happy Feet
(Warner Brothers 2006)
Happy Feet (Warner Brothers 2006)
Positive" Portrayals of accents and Their Speakers: Minnesotan English
Stereotype about Minnesota inhabitants: they are nice and hospitable people who seek to avoid conflict.

Azad's data revealed several such portrayals among characters with Minnesotan accents.

Minnie and Van are a married couple who in fact end up in Radiator Springs
Minnie Minnesotan English
Van Standard American English
(1) Minnie:
Van [raised and tensed vowel [ɛә]
], I just don't see any on-

[fronted [a]] anywhere [ɛnihwer].
(2) Van: Minnie, I know exactly where we are.
(3) Minnie: Y
ah [ja:]
, we're in the middle of nowhere.
(4 Van: Honey, please.
(5) Sally: Hello! Welcome to Radiator Springs, gateway to Ornament Valley. Legendary for its quality service and friendly hospitality. How can we help you?
(6) Van: We don't need anything, thank you very much.
(7) Minnie: Well, honey, ask her directions to the Interstate
[pure [e] vowel]
(8) Van: There's no need to ask for directions. Minnie, I know exactly where we're going.
(9) Minnie: He did the
same [pure [e]
vowel] thing on our trip to
Shakopee [fronted [a]

in first syllable]
. You know, we were headed over there for the
Crazy [pure [e]vowel
Days [pure [e] vowel]
, and we-
(10) Van: Okay, okay. Really. We're just peachy, Okay?

Cars (Disney/Pixar 2006)
The Complexities of Portrayals—The Multiple Faces of SAE
a particular dialect aids in characterization by reproducing one particular stereotype, but

a dialect can indeed be associated with multiple social meanings and identities

It is associated with at least
three different identities
, depending on the context within which the talk is situated and also the audience the film is for:

an identity of beauty, perfection, or familiarity
a “villain” identity;
a nerdy or “uncool” identity

Standard American English

- Lippi-Green 1997: lovers overwhelmingly are speakers of Standard American English.
-Azad 2009: lovers in fact are overwhelmingly speakers of SAE, regardless of the setting of the movie.
all of the twelve couples feature at least one lover who speaks SAE
eight feature both lovers as speakers of SAE.

Standard American English as Beautiful, Ideal, and Familiar
Why this apparent association exists between love and standard speech?
- One possible explanation is that children’s movies tend to portray the world as a place where lovers end up in
an ideal situation and live “happily ever after
.” It is possible that the use of
standard accents is meant to signal this ideal situation
, which would suggest that standard accents are seen as the most ideal form of speech.

- It is also possible that, given that lovers are generally portrayed as
physically beautiful and attractive,

is employed for such characters because it too is perceived
s beautiful and attractive

- Another explanation may be that
lovers tend to be characters that the audience is expected to root for and feels a connection with.
the use of standard accents is an attempt to foster this sense of familiarity, which would suggest that standard accents are most familiar and comfortable
to us.

Azad 2009

a broad examination of the data suggested that
foreign-accented characters are not being portrayed as the “bad” characters as often as they were before.

the main villain of each movie reveals that 6/17 villains are speakers of SAE

SAE as the Villain
SAE as Nerdy and Uncool

(DreamWorks 2005)

PLOT: which tells the story of four animals that live in a zoo in Central Park until they accidentally end up in Madagascar

Melman is an SAE speaking giraffe who is a hypochondriac and constant worrier.

Films analysed
1. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
2. The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey (2012)
3. Thor (2011)
4. Clash of the Titans (2010)
5. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
6. Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
7. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
9. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
10. The Last Airbender (2010)
11. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief (2010)
12. Eragon (2006)

Gunvor Kjos Moltu (2014) “One accent to rule them all” a sociolinguistic study of accent use and stereotyping in American fantasy films

- There will be
systematic correlations
between accent use
and character traits
- Family films will to a greater extent
use accents to build characters
than Public General films
will speak
more standardized
than males
Major roles
will tend to speak more standardized than minor roles
- General American will be more prevalent among speakers deemed ‘
’ than ‘bad’.
Received Pronunciation (RP)
be more prevalent among ‘
’ characters than among ‘good’.
Human characters
will speak more standardized than human-like and non-human characters
Sophisticated characters
will tend to speak RP

Read the 4th chapter of this thesis and answer to the next two research questions:

1. Are there any systematic correlations between accent use and character traits in
American fantasy films?

2. Does accent distribution vary in films according to expected audience

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