Speech Investigation- Do people use a higher register on the telephone than when speaking in person?
The aim of this investigation was to compare the type of register (high/low) people used when they spoke on the telephone and in person. The null hypothesis states that there will be no change in register when speaking on the telephone and when speaking in person. To conduct my investigation, I recorded at random a one-minute sample of speech during each conversation using a Dictaphone. The sample was played back until I was able to accurately complete the tally chart for each set of data. In order to measure the type of register people used in each context a tally chart was used to record the number of times the subject used a particular language device.
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The investigation was conducted by gathering a recording of a one-minute sample of a conversation in each context. The sample was recorded using a Dictaphone which would make the clarity of the speech easy to comprehend and to derive data from the sample. Three sets of data were collected so the results have been replicated and tested for reliability. The sample of recording is very short, this was to make it easy and less time-consuming to derive data from the sample. It can be argued that the sample is not long enough to gather sufficient and reliable data; however a random sample of the conversation was gathered so can be seen as relatively reliable.
The participants gave fully informed consent and were reminded of their right to withdraw their data from the investigation. In order to refrain from demand characteristics I asked the participants if they would take part in a study that would be conducted over a period of three weeks at any time
The results have been presented as a tally chart; therefore the language device that has the most scores in a particular context can give us an idea of the type of register the individual was producing.
Data 1- Mother talking to son’s school teacher
Data 2- Father talking to business client
Teenage boy talking to peer
The data in the tally charts have been processed into a bar chart to compare the two sets of results in each conversation.
The results table and graph clearly display evidence to support my hypothesis. The tally chart shows that the higher register typically occurs when the subject is speaking in the telephone rather than in person. From the results, I found that participants who were exposed to a formal social situation used a higher register on the telephone and in person. This compares to data three where a lower register was creates by the teenager because of the relaxed and informal social situation they were in.
At the beginning of this investigation a total of 16/21 participants agreed that people would generally use a higher register when they spoke on the telephone than when they spoke in person. Although from the results collected it can be deduced that people do use a higher register on the phone, I can conclude that the type of register created depends on the social situation.