Orality in Fiction Dialogue: A Discourse Analysis and Corpus-Assisted Study in English and Arabic Novels

نوع المستند : المقالة الأصلية


Cairo University


The reconstruction of speech in the written mode, especially in the dialogue parts in novels, displays several compromisation strategies. Fiction dialogue, though, varies in its representation of real speech; it follows the conventions of everyday talk yet cannot be an exact replication of real spoken language. The purpose of this study was to detect and compare the most frequent oral strategies (orality) used by creative writers to imitate reality in the fiction dialogue of selected English and Egyptian Arabic contemporary novels. This paper is a qualitative-quantitative study and its analytical framework employed tools of discourse analysis and corpus linguistics. The following devices were explored and compared: features of interactive discourse (e.g. attention signaling forms, terms of address and discourse markers); style shifting and code switching; informal style features; allusions; taboo/swear words; proverbs; and religious references. The quantitative part of analysis utilized corpus tools, e.g. wordlists, key words and concordance lines. Findings revealed similarities and differences within and across the selected English and Arabic novels. The similarities were mainly in the types of "spokenness" in the fiction dialogue, for example, direct speech conventions, discourse markers, style variation in accordance with speech context, code switching, and significant employment of terms of address. Differences, on the other hand, were in the frequencies and variety of style shifting between the formal and informal language, colloquial language lexis, honorific address terms, proverbs, religious reference and allusions that reflect culture and the social strata of the protagonists.   

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