Kalantzis and Cope on Oral Design Elements


What do the meanings refer to?

  • What are the distinctive audible features of the speech? (such as rhythm, stress, tempo, pausing and pitch: rising, falling, dipping, peaking).
    • How is a person connected in speech? e.g. I am speaking, I am listening, I am saying or hearing something about a person.
    • How is time referred to? (e.g. live speech in the present, recorded speech to be heard in the future.
    • How is place referred to? (e.g. live speech here, recorded or transmitted speech played somewhere else).
    • How are things referred to? (e.g. the spoken words for things).
    • What general concept does speaking refer to?
    • How are characteristics referred to? Emphases, intonation e.g. happiness/sadness, anger/even temper, fear, surprise, sarcasm.
    • How are relations represented? (e.g. phrasing).



How do the meanings connect the people in the action and the people who are communicating?

  • How does the speech configure the persons involved? (e.g. a lecture, a conversation)
  • What kinds of connections do the audible sounds of speech establish between participants? (e.g. a statement, a question, a command).
  • What patterns of emphasis are established within spoken meaning units? (e.g. stress of the focal meaning-point or new information).



How does the overall meaning hold together?

  • How are the units of speech marked by audio variation? (such as by pause and pitch e.g. beginning/ends of oral information units).
  • How do sound units cohere? (syllables, utterances – note phonemes have no meaning in-themselves).
  • How are meaningful sound variations chained? (such as prosody, poetics e.g. metre, rhyme).
  • What are the audible ways of referring in speech (such as literal/symbolic e.g. the sound resemblance of onomatopoeia).
  • How is the oral meaning expressed? (e.g. spoken or whispered close up/shouted from a distance, speech with/without mechanical amplification, live/recorded speech).



How are the meanings shaped by where they are situated?

  • How is speech framed by the context of its situation? (e.g. a one-on-one conversation, a group discussion, a monologue, talking to oneself).
  • How does the oral quality of an utterance fit into a wider framework of alternative modes of speaking?
  • What larger patterns of oral meaning does the utterance fit into by its overall modes of resemblance/difference (e.g. accents, dialects).



Whose interests do these meanings serve?

  • How does speech reflect or establish role differentials? (e.g. tones of expertise, condescension, power).
  • Whose interests does this way of speaking serve? (e.g. tones of pleading, haranguing, ordering).
  • What affinities does it express or suggest by its tone? (e.g. serious, playful).


Table 11.2: Oral Design Elements

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