Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Grammar

A Study of Conversational Structure of Oprah Winfrey’s TV News Interview

Author DongZuoZuo
Tutor ZuoZhaoJun
School Dongbei University of Finance
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords Oprah’s news interview conversation analysis conversation structure turn-taking adjacency pair overall structure
CLC H314
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Conversation analysis is put forward in the 1960s by Sacks, Schegloff on the basis of the study of ordinary conversation. Conversation analysis is designed as a kind of language analysis device, which plays an important role in social linguistics, pragmatics, and discourse analysis.With the development of technology and the arrival of information time, the television program has gradually integrated into peoples’lives. As a kind of the television program, the TV news interview takes place in a special context with particular purpose and attracts more attention from the audiences. It has enjoyed an increasing popularity within the television programs, and has become a new authority to influence people’s way of thinking and their behavior. The TV news interview is a special format of conversation and different from the ordinary conversation in many ways.This thesis researches on Oprah’s TV news interview from the perspective of conversation structure. Oprah’s TV news interview, an American famous trump card program with face to face interview as a primary form, has mainly focused on the current social affairs and the problems which are closely related to the life of common people. Meanwhile, it has also clearly located its audiences and concentrated on the controversial and influential subjects. This study presents the analysis on the basis of theory of the three conversation system proposed by Sack and his associates, namely, turn-taking system, adjacency pair structure, and overall structure. Exemplifying some video clips from the Oprah’s news interview, the present study aims to demonstrate the diversity and the similarity between the TV news interview and the ordinary conversation from the perspective of conversation sequence structure and turn-taking system.With the aid of the device of quantitative and qualitative analysis, the study finds that the Oprah’s TV news interview has largely abided by the rule of adjacency pair and most of conversation follows the question-answer pattern. All the participants in the ordinary conversation share the equal opportunities to raise a question and provide the information, on the contrary, because the host is responsible for controlling the topic and exploring the newsworthy information by proposing questions, the host holds the great majority of questioning turns; Moreover, most of the turns in the Oprah’s news interview adhere to the turn-taking rules. One turn closely follows another with no gap, no lapse, and no silence. Since the host is supposed to control the floor, s/he accounts for most part of right to select the next speaker. However, compared with the host, the guest has more answering turns during the interview because s/he is responsible for providing information; Finally, as the Oprah’s news interview is limited by time and context, the overall structure is distinct from the ordinary conversation in the initial, development, and closure.The thesis is composed of seven chapters. The first chapter starts with the simple introduction of the research questions, and the significance of this study, as well as the organization of the thesis. The second chapter provides research and theoretical background of conversation analysis, which also includes the historical reviews on TV news interview. The third chapter contains the establishment of theoretical framework, that is, the three conversation-structuring systems, namely, the adjacency pair system, turn-taking system, overall organization system. The relevant concepts of three systems are also discussed. The fourth chapter demonstrates the features of Oprah’s news interview as well as data collection and research method. The fifth chapter compares Oprah’s news interview with the ordinary conversation in adjacency pair system and overall structure. The sixth chapter studies the turn-taking system of Oprah’s TV news interview with quantitative analysis device, which investigates the influence on the conversation structure by the profession characteristics of TV news interview and the particular responsibilities between the host and guest. The last chapter concludes the thesis by summerizing the major findings and presenting the implications of the study.The significance of this study is in that it reveals the partial and overall structure and features of Oprah’s English TV news interview; the study of conversation structure in Oprah’s English TV news interview is beneficial to English learners to improve their comprehension abilities, communicative skills, linguistic competence. Since conversation is the most important component of communication, enhancing the recognition of conversation structure is conductive to improving English learners’ communicative competence.

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