There are many different ways that power and authority can affect spoken language. Spoken language is the way someone speaks and changes from person to person with various factors such as age, gender and occupation influencing the way they speak. Furthermore, the situation the speaker is in will also influence their spoken language. The Junior Apprentice transcript, which will be analysed in this essay, is set in a boardroom with a business-like atmosphere. This is evident through the use of jargon by various people within the boardroom, examples being the use of ‘profit’, ‘project manager’ and ‘revenue’. Due to the formal setting, the candidates try to be well spoken and try to use Standard English. There is one person who is the authoritative figure head, Lord Sugar.
Firstly, one feature of spoken language that was affected by power and authority was the formality of the language used by the members of the boardroom. Jordan, the project manager for this particular task, was very formal using words such as ‘primarily’ and not using any informal words. His formal tone is also evident in the fact that he did not use any elisions and contractions. This may be because he knew he was in the line of fire and was trying to show that he was not nervous and was confident in the points he was trying to get across. Moreover, he may be trying to get across that he is more mature than the rest of the group. This would help him later on in the final three as he would be seem the most confident, assertive and have more authority than the other boys in his team. Jordan had changed his spoken language to the situation as someone with more authority and power was questioning his own authority.
However, many of the other contestants used informal words in their speech, such as ‘dump it’, ‘yep’ and ‘y’know’. This showed the listener that they were very nervous and were not used to the business-like, pressured environment. Therefore, they seem to be very weak compared to someone like Jordan, who was very assured in what he was saying. They changed their spoken language to one of someone who is hesitant due to their lack of power in this situation
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Secondly, the use of fillers varied between members of the boardroom, mainly depending on how much authority and power they had. The frequency of which fillers occur can be used to determine how power and authority has affected their spoken language. People with more authority will use fillers less, while someone who has less authority will use more. This is evident within the boardroom scene. One of the candidates, Tim, has very little authority and power. This causes him to use fillers more frequently than the others – one example being that he says ‘well, um’. The speaker, Tim, is very uncertain and cannot put together a proper response as he may feel frail and helpless in front of someone who has a lot of authority, in this case being Lord Sugar. On the other hand, due to the amount of authority Lord Sugar has, he does use any filler. This shows us that power and authority has shaped both their spoken languages as someone who has power will be able to formulate proper responses and not use any filler.
The spoken language of Lord Sugar was very interesting and varied a lot throughout the text. He used jargon – from the semantic field of business - in his speech including phrases such as ‘delegation’ and ‘team leader’. The use of jargon comes very naturally to him, indicating his wealth of experience in the business trade. Furthermore, the listener can interpret his use of jargon to imply that he is intelligent, showing that he knows what he is talking about. Lord Sugar is using his knowledge to show off and to strengthen and consolidate his power in the boardroom.
Another use of jargon is to try and gain power as evident by the candidates who use it. Examples of this can be found in Arjun’s speech. He used words such as ‘project manager’ and ‘profit margins’. By using jargon, Arjun presented himself as knowledgeable and makes it seem as if he knows what he is talking about. As a result, Lord Sugar may acknowledge the use of jargon by Arjun and gain his approval, helping him stay in the competition. Power and authority has affected the spoken language of Arjun as, due to the fact that he did not have much power and authority in the boardroom, he started to use jargon to try and gain power and authority. He has established himself above the other candidates, making himself someone who is worthy enough to keep in the competition. This is the difference between the two uses of jargon in the transcript. Someone with power will try to use jargon to consolidate the power they have, while someone without power will use it to try and gain power. The public perception of someone who uses jargon is that the person using it is eloquent and academic. Therefore, this will render the speaker as an authoritative person.
The transcript gave us further insight into how much power and authority Lord Sugar has through his spoken language. This can be seen when changes his formality during the boardroom scene. He started off by saying ‘right gentlemen’ – which is said in a very firm tone as evident by the audio-visual. This is very formal and straight away shows his authority to the candidates as it is assertive and can seem aggressive. It automatically puts him in charge head and allows him to take control of the conversation. Furthermore, it can be said that Lord Sugar is looking at the candidates as equals and expects them to act like business men. He expects them to be responsible for the actions they did during the actual task.
As the scene progresses, the viewer can see a shift in the formality. Lord Sugar starts using more informal words such as ‘y’know’ and ‘headless chickens’. This is then followed by more formal words such as ‘delegating responsibilities’. This variation in formality shows the listener that Lord Sugar has enough power and authority to break the unwritten rules of the boardroom – the rule that the speaker has to use a formal tone. Another interpretation of his use of an informal tone can be that he is trying to show that he is on the side of the candidates. Also, he is trying to make them ore comfortable in the boardroom. He is able to adapt his language to suit his audience. Power and authority shaped the way he spoke as he has a lot of power, therefore did not need to follow the rules of the boardroom and was very relaxed and calm in the pressured environment. However, the public perception of informal language may have caused him to lose some power, as many people think that people who use informal language are dim-witted.
Another spoken language feature that Lord Sugar used was slang. He mentions the phrases ‘fella’ and ‘dump’. This is ironic as someone who uses slang is stereotypically seen as someone who is lowly and powerless, when in fact, he is the most powerful person in the boardroom. Moreover people like Lord Sugar are generally taken in as people who are expected to be formal in situations such as the boardroom. He breaks this stereotype and does the unexpected. While some say this helps him consolidates his power, others will say it takes away from his power and authority and is making him seem unprofessional. This is because many people including various famous people, such as the British actress Emma Thompson, believe that the use of slang makes them sound stupid. Conversely, some say that slang promotes creativity in children and adds a new ‘exciting dimension’ to language.
Moreover, possessive pronoun is subtly used by Lord Sugar to show his authority. When he is talking about the bulk sale of the cheese, he says ‘my people’ – most probably referring to his aide, The use of ‘my’ makes it seem as if the person belongs to him and he owns them. He may have used this as people that belong to you will usually be reliable. Also, the information they give will be validated and have more value to it. Additionally, he may be trying to illustrate his ownership and authority. Power and authority shaped his language as only someone with these two factors will be able to show off their ‘possessions’ to seem more powerful than the person they are speaking to. To the public, he may actually lose respect, therefore power and authority, as someone who uses possessive pronouns can be seen as proud and condescending.
The candidates can be seen as the lowest branch of the hierarchy of power and authority in the boardroom. This is evident through the fact that they use contractions, make false starts and have repetitions in their speeches. ‘Dont’, ’no...Try to get rid of it’ and ‘no...No’ are just a few examples of these aspects which are apparent in their speech. This shows us that they were very nervous and felt intimated by the presence of Lord Sugar. Adam went as far as becoming subservient towards the conclusion. He ends his conversation by saying ‘I won’t let you down’ and ‘I won’t... I promise from me to you’. Power and authority shaped their language as someone who is in power will not repeat their words, make false starts or make any contractions and be fluent in their speech. This can be seen by the fact that lord sugar uses none of these. As the candidates do not have as much power, they are not confident, are tentative and anxious. The public perception of the use of someone who has these factors in their spoken language may be that the person is not very confident in themselves, and therefore lack power and authority.
To sum up this essay, the listener can see that power and authority can shape the way an individual speaks. Numerous spoken language techniques were used to try and manipulate who had power in the boardroom and those who were left vulnerable and weak. A speaker can exploit spoken language in various ways. Lord sugar used it to consolidate his power, while the candidates were trying to use it to try and gain power and authority. Social status also affects how much power and authority a person has, as someone who has a higher rank will be naturally respects, therefore command more power. If I was in this situation, I would try to maintain a formal and fluent speech. Furthermore, I would try to be relaxed and think of my answers beforehand, so I do not make any false starts or contractions. Jargon will also be used in my speech. Furthermore to conclude, power and authority shapes spoken language in many ways such as someone who is in power will be more relaxed and be more fluent in their speech .