Discuss the following filmic excerpt from the Finding Nemo animation script in terms of Idiolect (the speech specific to a particular person), turn taking, speech acts, politeness, and naming strategies. Illustrate your discussion with fully analysed examples from the text, using line numbers. Through your analysis, also try and explore the different ways in which this text can be understood. In other words, can you explain the text’s appeal to a young audience as well as an adult audience?
Throughout the extract, language allows us to explore the differences between the characters, and the traits in their language mirror their personality: the well-spoken, anxious clownfish, Marlin, is contrasted by the relaxed, informal turtle, Crush, and his child, Squirt. I will focus on these characters, as they clearly represent two people from opposing ends of the spectrum socially, and these differences are reflected in a variety of ways, but in particular their accents, idiolect and naming strategies. The distinct contrast in accents and idiolect makes it entertaining for the audience, as the social difference and awkward approach of Marlin makes it humorous for an adult audience, but also makes them both relatable to parents, with Marlin reflecting a more cautious and uptight parent, and Crush representing a free and relaxed parent, perhaps even echoing a Hippie stereotype, especially with his frequent use of slang such as ‘Dude’ [ll.46] (MCCLEARY, MCCLEARY, 2003) This use of vernacular in the excerpt, another example being ‘fin…noggin’ [ll.40] by Crush and Squirt could annoy an older audience with its repetition, but would connect with a younger audience as it’s sustained use throughout makes it memorable and this therefore demonstrates the extract’s appeal to both audiences.
Idiolect and Naming Strategies
As I have already determined, the idiolect of the characters is a large part of the extracts appeal. Crush repeats the word ‘Dude’ frequently, starting from [ll.1], and this accompanies his Australian accent, which combined automatically reinforces a stereotypical surfer image alongside the initial Hippie assumption, as ‘Dude’, ‘totally’ [ll.40] and ‘awesome’ [ll.48] are commonly associated with surfers, and the idea of ‘ridin’’ [ll.19] the current in this excerpt mirrors the phrase ‘riding the waves’ commonly used when surfing. The use of ‘Ridin’’ [ll.19] and ‘Hurlin’’ [ll.14] are examples of Crush’s dialect, and illustrate the generalisation that Australians mumble and speak through their teeth (HORNADGE, 1986) because by dropping the ‘g’ sound, Crush automatically becomes less clear and pronounces his words in a more muffled tone of voice, which serves as a stark contrast to Marlin, who is consistently clear and annunciates his vowels. Furthermore, Crush uses a multitude of nicknames, such as ‘Mini-man’ [ll. 10] and ‘Jellyman’ [ll. 42]: he never asks Marlin his name, but instead uses nicknames to refer to him. This naming strategy establishes a sense of familiarity between the two, and an ‘index of intimacy’ (CRYSTAL, 2010) as nicknames are generally given when people are close; however Crush is challenging social conventions by putting Marlin on a nickname basis immediately despite having just met him. (MAYBIN, MERCER, 1996)
By contrast, Marlin speaks properly from the offset, however, whilst Crush is confident, Marlin shows anxiety through stuttering twice in the extract: ‘But-but-but dude’ [ll. 53] is the first occurrence, which shows a lack of self-assurance and his trepidation in using ‘Dude’ as a naming strategy. By using ‘Dude’ Marlin demonstrates that he is trying to integrate in with the others; this could be seen as demonstrative of how slang catches on in society, as through repeated use of the word by those surrounding him, Marlin has succumbed to using it too. The second occasion Marlin stutters is ‘W-w-wai-wait’ [ll. 60], which is as a result of the Negative Face Threatening Act...
Bibliography: BBC. 2009. How do you make children’s films appeal to adults? [Online] [Accessed 29 November 2012] Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8415003.stm
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HORNADGE, B. 1986. The Australian slanguage: a look at what we say and how we say it. North Ryde, N.S.W. :Methuen Australia, 1986.
GREGORIOU, C. 2005. Conversational Strategies. [PowerPoint slides accessed through the VLE]. ENGL1160. Language Text and Context. University of Leeds, 7 November
IMDB. 2012. Finding Nemo. [Online] [Accessed 29 November 2012] Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266543/
MCCLEARY, J.B. MCLEARY, J.J. ed. 2003. The hippie dictionary: a cultural encyclopedia (and phraseicon) of the 1960s and 1970s. Ten Speed Publishing, 2003.
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