Teen Talk

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Teen Talk

Text 1. (two excerpts)

Dear Dr. Erika,

There’s a girl in my class who thinks whenever she opens her big mouth everybody better shut up and listen. And at lunch she sits at the best table in the cafeteria, and woe! if you park there. She pitches a fit. She actually gets her way in everything. Even the teachers are scared of her and treat her different from the rest of us.

Reina, 14
Dear Dr. Erika,

I dread my second period class. There’s this girl who, like, brags about everything. When she makes a good grade she acts like she’s the smartest. When she has a birthday party, she goes like: “There’s never been another party like mine.” When she blabs about her family they’re like sooo rich! And she cuts people and makes me feel like dirt.

Erica, 15
(Erika. V. Shearin Karres, 2010, “Mean Chicks, Cliques and Dirty Tricks”, p3)

Situational Characteristics analysis
(Biber and Conrad framework of analysis)

I. Participants

1. The addressors
In both texts the addressors are teen-age girls identified by age and name, students at school. However, we could consider that their names and ages are assumed, they could be someone else and they want to remain unidentified, because they appear in a school magazine, on the Advice page. There are no on-lookers, they write some private messages to dr. Erika, waiting for advice from her.

2. The addressee
The addressee is Dr. Erika, another person, female, adult, mentioned by name, so, known at least from the pages of the magazine.

II. Relation among participants
The teen-age girls and the doctor (teacher) interact in writing, with different social roles (student-teacher), relation in which Dr. Erika has the status of power. The girls have different problems, they are fellow-students but don’t know each other, at least not overtly. They present their personal problems to the specialist in order to obtain a piece of advice that could help them interact better within the group.

III. Channel
The mode of interaction is in writing and is not permanent, it is only occasional. The specific medium is represented by the pages of the magazine, there is no face-to-face interaction or conversation.

IV. Production circumstances
It is a planned intention of writing from the part of the girls and the advice received is scripted, revised and edited.

V. Setting
1. The time of the communication could be shared by the participants or not, because we find these two excerpts in the author’s book, the correspondence is original but with no reference to the precise day, hour, year, etc. 2. The place of the communication is public, the Teen Magazine of the school can be read by whoever wants this, the specific setting being the Advice Page. 3. The time of action belongs to the present times, it is contemporary.

VI. Communicative purposes
1. The general purpose of both entries signed by the girls is to narrate/report a situation and to ask how to face it. 2. A specific purpose that we can identify in the text is the one of teaching moral through personal story but also that of summarizing information from different sources. 3. As for the factuality, due to the age of the addressors and knowing that teen-agers can be very troubled, we could consider their discourse speculative or imaginative but also factual because they present actual situations and facts. 4. From the point of view of the expression of stance, both discourses have an attitudinal expression.

VII. Topic
1. The general topic or “the domain” concerns the everyday life and problems of the girls at school, it has to do with the process of education. Within this context they encounter a problem which is very frequent among youth, the jealousy or envy directed against their fellows. 2. The specific topic is in both cases another girl, the “competition” in class but also outside the school. 3. The social status of the person being referred to is identical to...
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