Sample Question & Answer

QUESTION: This transcript is an extract from a radio phone-in. The presenter (P) is speaking to a caller, Mark (C). How has the language of the text been influenced by technology?

  • P: Mark’s the Spurs fan on the line to kick us off (.) hi Mark
  • C: hello er Mark down in Bexley mate I’ve just got back from that erm (.) you know what they’ve got this Spurs team now (.) they’ve got the bottle to fight er as good as Arsenal are (.) erm it it’s something special that j.) er really really something special (.) they had all the all the rubbish thrown at them that we’ve taken erm [sighs] I really do think we can win the cup this year (.) you know we can beat Chelsea I reckon
  • P: pick out a few players for us who have er really stood out tonight
  • C: well that man (.) er Berbatov sensational (.) still think we need a goalkeeper but perhaps that’s a little bit unkind (.) he’s Robinson going to get back I think (.) Keane magic (.) but he he he’s got them playing together hasn’t he and the big lad up front erm sens absolutely sensational (.) I wouldn’t have thought at the beginning of the year er the beginning of October we’d be struggling but er it’s fantastic
  • P. I just think Berbatov starts to look the (.) he’s got that swagger about him and the the //third goal and the turns the (.) maybe Jol was right maybe he
  • C:                                                                                                                        //yeah
  • P. will be the man for Spurs this year
  • C: yeah well well Ramos you know again he’s had his critics hasn’t he but er perhaps Jenas bless him (.) erm the pace he he’s like a rabbit a rabbit down that wing but erm (1) but er (2) fan fantastic game honestly and I er think they will really challenge for the top four next year I think it (.) with due respect to to Liverpool and Everton and Villa erm (.) But Arsenal (.) they’ve got the league and a two horse race do you agree (.) don’t you agree
  • P. who cares what I think (.) thanks Mark (.) Ron’s an Arsenal (.) Ron good evening

Student’s Response


As this is a radio phone-in, the programme is happening in real time, although it is likely that the caller has already spoken to an editor and questioned about what he is going to say. This is a key feature of the phone-in and gives both the presenter and caller an understanding of how the interaction will proceed. Despite this, there are still many examples of naturally occurring spoken discourse and many language features are influenced by the medium of the radio phone-in.


The presenter’s role is to maintain the interaction and allow the caller to express his view. The presenter begins with a metaphorical play on words ‘kick us off which is in keeping with a range of lexical items from the field of football that give the interaction cohesion. The greeting sequence ‘Hi Mark’ is a signal that the caller can begin to speak and he further initiates another exchange with his question on Spurs players who have played well.


The caller speaks to the presenter using informal terms such as ‘hello’ and ‘down in Bexley mate’. He shows his position as a Spurs fan by using the first-person plural pronoun ‘we’ and addresses the presenter directly using the pronoun ‘you’. He assumes shared knowledge on the part of the presenter by referring to the (again metaphorical) ‘rubbish’ that Spurs fans and players have had to take, which I assume means criticism from others.


The presenter’s second turn, as well as initiating another exchange structure could also be seen as speaker support, encouraging the caller, whose pauses and fillers suggest he may be a little nervous at speaking live on air, to develop his opinions. The caller, because of the medium of communication is not constrained by the need to use standard grammatical constructions. Instead, he uses elliptical sentences, omitting verbs, ‘Berbatov sensational’ and again assumes shared knowledge on the part of the presenter and other listeners by referring to the Spurs player as ‘the big lad up front’ (‘lad’ is often used by footballers and fans to refer to a player). His comments on Berbatov are taken up by the presenter, again as a sign of speaker support. In this instance, the caller also uses back channelling ‘yeah’ to maintain the interaction with the presenter.


The presenter initiates a further question by referring to Jol (who was the previous manager), again expecting a degree of shared knowledge with caller and listeners, that further allows the caller to express some more views, particularly his opinion that Spurs could challenge for the league this year. He even uses a tag question at the end of his turn ‘don’t you agree’ to get a reaction from the presenter. Interestingly, the presenter’s response ‘who cares what I think’, which would normally break the conversational maxim of manner and threaten positive face probably doesn’t do in this context as the caller is almost certainly aware that his contribution to the show will come to an end. Instead, the presenter finishes with an abrupt politeness marker ‘thanks Mark’ before moving on to his next caller. This may well be because of time constraints because in a short show, the production team would want to get the views of as many fans as possible. Overall then, the discourse of a radio phone-in is clearly evident in a greeting-question-farewell structure and the abundance of features of spoken discourse as well as the presenter and caller cooperating to ensure a worthwhile contribution has been made.



Nicola’s comments immediately address the context and medium of the transcript (A03).





There are some clear comments on lexis and discourse structure here with evidence of linguistic approaches to the analysis of spoken discourse (A02).




Nicola makes a good point about informality here in the context of what the show is attempting to portray. In addition she continues with her close focus on lexical items and makes some valid comments on shared knowledge in this context (A03).

There are references to typical features of spoken discourse here with some attempt to explain why they may be evident (A02). Nicola also draws attention to non-standard grammar and the referencing to the Spurs forward as the big lad up front, again with some insight as to why the lexical item ‘lad’ is chosen. She continues to comment on the way that the speakers cooperate to maintain the interaction (A03).

The ending of this answer considers some aspects of politeness (A02) and maintains a strong focus on context by considering the need for the presenter to move quickly on to his next guest (A03). Nicola’s response concludes with a summary of the discourse pattern commonly found in radio phone-ins (A02/3).


Examiner’s comments

Nicola maintains a good focus on this text, considering how the medium of the radio phone-in influences the language choices that speakers make. She is aware of contextual factors (A03) and clearly and soundly analyses a number of language features. She makes insightful and relevant comments, with some valid references to ideas from language study (for example conversational exchanges, maxims and politeness strategies). These qualities would place her work clearly in the 11-14 band for A02 and in the 22-29 band for A03. Again some further attention to lexical and grammatical features in addition to those mentioned in paragraph four, would have made this a more secure answer.

Grade B

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