Themes in discourse research: The case of Diana
Themes in discourse research: The case of Diana

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Themes in discourse research: The case of Diana

1.2 Discourse as social action

Consider this first transcribed extract from the interview. Note that the numbers in brackets refer to pauses and give the length of the pause in seconds, while (.) signifies a micro-pause too small to count and .hhh indicates an audible in-breath.

Extract 1

BASHIR at this early stage would you say that you were happily married
DIANA very much so (1) but (.) er the pressure on – on us both as a couple (.) with the media was phenomenal (1) and misunderstood by a great many people (1) we'd be going round Australia for instance .hhh (2) and (.) you – all you could hear was oh (.) she's on the other side (1) now if you're a man (1) like my husband a proud man (.) you mind about that if you hear it every day for four weeks (.) and you feel (.) low about it y-know instead of feeling happy and sharing it
BASHIR when you say she's on the other side what do you mean
DIANA well they weren't on the right side (.) to wave at me (.) or to touch me (1) ehm
BASHIR so they were expressing a preference even then for you rather than your husband
DIANA yes (.) which I felt very uncomfortable with and I felt it was unfair (.) because I wanted to (.) share
BASHIR but were you flattered by the media attention particularly
DIANA no not particularly because with the media attention (.) came a lot of jealousy (1) a great deal (.) of (2) hhh complicated situations arose because of that
(Transcribed extract taken from Abell and Stokoe, 1999: 312)

This extract contains quite a complex account of events. Diana describes herself as a sharing kind of person. She describes Prince Charles as a proud man who felt low about the attention his wife was getting. She talks about her marriage. It was happy initially but disrupted by media pressure. Her account seems to do some business in presenting herself and Prince Charles. Her words are more than just an account, however, they can also be seen as a form of social action. This notion of discourse as social action is a central one and I want to look at three facets of this in some detail.


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