You are required to submit one piece of written work, which will involve the collection of spoken data, transcription
of your data and a critical commentary reflecting on the process.
• Part A. Transcription: you are required to collect natural, spoken data of a dialogue or multi-party interaction which you must transcribe and present according to the feature you are interested in foregrounding, together with; ?• Part B. A critical commentary that discusses the process of data collection with a reflection of the issues
involved. You are required to write a critical commentary describing the process of undertaking this research, which
should include a discussion on issues such as validity, reliability, ethics; your methodology – choice of
participants and choice of equipment used for data collection; the Observer’s Paradox; and any difficulties with
transcribing etc. You are not, however, expected to analyse your data.
Decide what aspect of language you are interested in e.g. are you interested in interruptions, male and female
discourse, children’s language, use of accents and dialects, code-switching, story telling etc? It is important to decide before you begin your data collection as this will determine who your informants are, the setting/ context for your data collection, and finally, how you represent your spoken data in your transcription.
For ideas of which linguistic feature to collect, see Wray, A. and Bloomer, A. (2006) Projects in Linguistics: a
practical guide to researching language. London: Hodder Arnold. (Older editions of the book by Wray, Trott and
Bloomer are just as useful.) NB. Turn-taking is not a feature: if you are interested in this aspect of talk, you must choose a specific feature within the framework of Conversation Analysis e.g. interruptions and overlaps, topic change (- refer to lecture notes)
As you are working with informants, you must produce a letter of consent, which your informants must sign. If you are using children, their parent or guardian must signed the letter. The letter must be included in the appendix. For reasons of ethics, I suggest that your informants are people you know e.g. family, friends, classmates at university, work colleagues etc. Whatever you choose to collect, the spoken interaction must be “natural” and spontaneous i.e. not scripted. (In the case of interviews, you may have an interview schedule, that is, a list of interview questions, but the informant must not be told what to say). Keep notes of the process at every stage, including decisions you made, anything that works well or does not etc., to help you write your critical commentary.
Your transcription must be placed before the commentary. (Do not place in the appendix.) Provide a short paragraph
before the transcription with the following details to contextualise your data and introduce your feature:
the linguistic feature you are foregrounding who your informants are the context of spoken interaction (e.g. work, family dinner etc.) the type of spoken interaction (e.g. conversation, interview etc.)
the topic of spoken interaction
After you have recorded your spoken interaction, transcribe it, deciding beforehand on the format and the feature(s) of spoken interaction you want to foreground and represent. Ensure that you include a transcription key after your transcription to enable the reader to understand your transcription codes. Provide line numbers for each line of your transcription.
Write a critical commentary on the process of undertaking this research, which should include a discussion on the
feature you set out to collect, your methodology and the decision you had to make in choosing
informants…equipment…setting…the process of transcribing your data… any difficulties experienced e.g. the Observer’s Paradox, and how these were dealt with, if at all etc. Specifically, your commentary should highlight any problems you encountered during this process. Comment also on issues to do with validity, reliability, ethics, and on any
issues that you had not anticipated at the outset, how you dealt with or overcame them and say how you would approach these if you had to repeat the process again. Discuss any difficulties with transcribing the spoken interaction into a written format, for example, if you had difficulty with hearing or understanding what was said (e.g. speakers overlapping and interrupting each other) and how this affected your final transcription, if at all. (Again, note: you are not then expected to analyse your feature.)