Spoken language is filled with practices that aim to save time, avoid redundancy, and state things in short. This collection has chosen to distinguish between different types of compression not only in terms of processing methods but also in terms of the units of language, or scale of discourse, it acts upon.
Similarly, Jean Sas unnerves his interlocutor in this street interview by pretending to stammer before speeding through parts of his questions.
The poet Jaap Blonk has stylized this process in an exemplary way by methodically removing vowels and diphthongs from a given expression. Morphological compression takes place when words or phrases are literally abridged. Other types of abridgment, very common in everyday speech, are acronyms or initialisms, as in this excerpt from a Grand Magasin show , in this interview parody with a financial analyst or, even more absurdly, in this video found on YouTube.
Another way of compressing discourse is to trim the very structure of what is being spoken: removing articles, pronouns, prepositions, even entire swaths of an utterance. This kind of syntactic compression can also be used as a poetic technique, as can be heard in this reading by Olivier Cadiot. Onomatopoeia is another very effective means of syntactic compression, as in this example of a witness to a car accident whose narrative mirrors the speed and brutality of the event being described.
Other possible examples of compression, albeit at a different scale, are processes where a word, sound, or phrase replace entire swaths of discourse. A building manager compresses the exasperation he feels about the occupants of the building he supervises into a whistling noise. One can also imagine that this whistling noise is replacing a word he cannot find or does not have the time to look for, as in this excerpt where a speaker produces a certain dramatic effect all while adequately illustrating what is being said by imitating the sound of an alarm.
In a certain way, pronouns personal, demonstrative, relative compress the utterances they stand for: they can be systematically decompressed on the condition of knowing the context they have been spoken in. A number of rhetorical strategies can be listed here. This moment can be compared to the one that follows it, where the contracting parties are made to repeat each word of the engagement they have just agreed to.
Occurs when speech plays with the focal point of its address. Focalization Occurs when speech plays with the focal point of its address.
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All speech is addressed to someone. It is hard to imagine speaking to no one at all: whether it be to oneself, to someone absent, to an abstraction, to an inanimate object or divinity, human speech only takes shape through the movement that leads it to another: it aims; it is a vector. Most of the time, however, focalization happens when one form of address shifts to another.
There are five main categories of focalization. Though more ordinary and thus more impassive in tone, the same tightening process can be heard in auctions, where auctioneers move from a form of open, inquiring address to one that is closed, focused on certain individuals, ratifying their offer when they bid.
Likewise, in this excerpt of the film Entre les murs , the teacher first speaks to the entire class, then focuses his words on certain members, targeting his injunctions.
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A plowman does the same when giving instructions to each of his steers. The most systematic example of distributed address can be seen in this list of thanks taken from a Jane Birkin concert.
In this excerpt of a Claudia Tagbo show, the comedian splits her public up by successively addressing herself to White, Arab, Black, and Asian women, and in this A Silver Mt. Zion concert , the singer speaks to his public by distributing its members into socio-professional categories. Perhaps the most spectacular instances of focalization are those where a speaker shifts their focus between two recipients with very different statuses: like when this man speaks in very contrasting terms to a journalist for France Culture and to his dog; or when this voice suddenly focuses on a plant; when this truck farmer moves from an aside back to the general public; when this singing coach moves between addressing her student and an imaginary public, or even in this famous excerpt of La Femme du boulanger , where the character played by Raimu transposes his speech full of reproaches to his wife into one aimed at the female cat that has just walked into the kitchen.
But focalization is even more remarkable when it happens with three, four, even five different forms of address. Finally, in this recording of a man speaking to no one in particular on the subway, we can hear different forms of address, whether abstract or concrete, present or absent, which follow and melt into one another to such a point that it becomes unclear, in the end, who exactly is being spoken to.
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Deviations in the course of speech that make use of digression, detour, parentheses, or citation, allowing one to play with a range of qualities and registers. Folds produce tacking movements that twist discursive threads without breaking them. Antonin Artaud, excerpt of the radio performance Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu , recorded for the RDF but never broadcast , Fold Deviations in the course of speech that make use of digression, detour, parentheses, or citation, allowing one to play with a range of qualities and registers.
Speaking of folds implies viewing speech through the metaphor of a continuous line or thread indeed, one often hears of narrative or discursive threads : one that is curved not straight, inflected, wavy, making detours and digressions, going through distinct forms of enunciation, making qualitative jumps between different levels of speech without ever resolving itself into any set form of continuity.
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Apart from the fact that they favor thematic digressions, folds also allow discourse to turn back on itself and anticipate its own becoming. In this excerpt of a Gilles Deleuze lecture on Leibniz , folding allows for the various points of a philosophical demonstration to be brought together over the course of several sessions. The comedic potential of this kind of situation can be heard with humorist Pierre Repp , where stuttering and spoonerisms create a number of false leads that are each more incongruous than the other.
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When the hierarchy of levels of discourse tends to come undone and peripheral elements begin to proliferate in excessive ways, folds can also be used to saturate speech see the entry Saturation. A young woman calls the hotel where she spent the night to know if anyone has found the lingerie she believes to have forgotten there: this story, simple at first glance, breaks down into pieces through the use of peripheral details. Freed from the worries of having to maintain a steady discursive thread, folded speech can lose itself in an unrestrained drift, tacking a conversation miles from its original subject without appearing problematic in doing so.
Here, folds are dramatized as the realization of words in actions, with Lacan arranging his eloquent pauses, interpolated clauses, authoritative quotes, his focalization, his contrasts in tone and intensity, etc. The quality of speech being linked to an external event that it follows, points to, comments, supports, or orders, and from which it draws its formal properties, notably rhythmic ones.
Georges Perec, excerpt of the radio essay Tentative de description de choses vues au carrefour Mabillon le 19 mai , France Culture, Indexation The quality of speech being linked to an external event that it follows, points to, comments, supports, or orders, and from which it draws its formal properties, notably rhythmic ones.
Speech is indexed to an external event to the extent that both share a certain duration, a course of action that the speaker is bound to in some way. Sports commentary is thus a form of speech whose form and existence are directly due to the event it comments. Indexation could also be described as follows: speaker A shares, represents, and transmits their speech over the course of action B, with speaker C present. Thus, the horse race B is related by a commentator A for spectators C. The object of indexation thus takes shape through the movements of an inanimate object, the actions of a human or group of humans, the actions of a human on a horse, the horse itself, and the field streaming by because of humans carrying out their actions on horses which make up something of interest for spectators and commentators.
A great number of situations lend themselves to this kind of action, such as reports , reaction videos , auctions. Based on these typical cases, we can distinguish between several other cases that make up the collection:. Occurs when A and B are mixed up—that is, when a speaker A describes an action B they are carrying out to a third person C.
I represent myself in action to a spectator through speech. Such is also the case in this excerpt of a cooking show, this dance class , this mathematics lesson , and this more domestic tutorial see also Ocho cortado. Occur when B and C are mixed up, that is to say when the action described is carried out by the person speaker A is addressing: thus, in this recording , an owner A gives instructions B to his dog, who is the recipient C of his speech.
This relationship to indexation can thus produce the impression that the event described is being mutually constructed, another example being this recording of a game of Pictionary or the turmoil of giving birth see also Montre ce que tu sais faire , Vas-y Isabelle. When A and C are mixed up, that is to say when a speaker A describes and comments on an action B they are witnessing for themselves C.
When A, B, and C are mixed up, that is to say when a speaker A comments on an action B they are carrying out for themselves C. In this excerpt of the film Mesrine , for example, a police inspector A reads what he is typing B aloud for himself C see also the borderline case of Ah-Hooooh.
This occurrence of writing while reading aloud, as if for oneself, is quite common—another example can be found in this scene from real life. But it seems clear that this kind of action, when carried out in public, takes its public nature into account. The excerpt just cited would thus be an example of the current sub-category but also a case of what we have called explanation. Indeed, the sub-categories described above are not mutually exclusive. A player in a game can both follow their own actions and those of other players; a composer telling a tale can both comment on what they are doing and describe it as an almost external action that has already taken place.
Finally, one can see how observations for oneself and instructions to cameramen are intermingled in a stage control room, or how certain activities such as flying together require both concentration on oneself and concentration expressed to others. Remarkable modulations in tone that make speech tend toward song, chanting, or litany.
At times uneven, repetitive, contrasted, or monotonous, melody is what gives speech its expressiveness. Selknam Shaman, Argentina, excerpt of Les voix du monde : une anthologie des expressions vocales , Sermon by a pastor in the United States, excerpt of Les Voix du monde : une anthologie des expressions orales , Martin, F. Charpigny, and A. Genouiller, Aix-en-Provence, Maria Callas and Barbara Shuttleworth, excerpt of a recording of a masterclass at the Julliard School, Johann Schneider Ammann, President of the Helvetic Confederation, excerpt from a video address on the occasion of the Day of the Sick, Melody Remarkable modulations in tone that make speech tend toward song, chanting, or litany.
School grammar books identify and teach three types of intonation corresponding to three modes of expression: declarative, interrogative, and exclamative.
The second is for questions, the voice rising into a small upward curve at the end of an utterance to mark a suspension waiting to be resolved.