Telecinematic discourse: Approaches to the language of films and television series

Telecinematic discourse: Approaches to the language of films and television series. Ed. by Roberta Piazza, Monika Bednarek, and Fabio Rossi. (Pragmatics & beyond new series 211.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011. Pp. xi, 315. ISBN 9789027256157. $143 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sofia Rüdiger, University of Bayreuth

As stated by the editors in the introductory chapter, the overarching goal of the individual contributions is to advance the understanding, description, and definition of telecinematic discourse (i.e. the language of television and cinema), its functionality and unique characteristics, and its relation to language in real life.

The first part of the collection is dedicated to cinematic discourse. In Ch. 2, Fabio Rossi compares the language of several Italian comedies with a reference corpus of spoken Italian relating the results regarding typical phenomena of film language to dubbing practices. Michael Alvarez-Pereyre offers a general assessment of the limitations and advantages of using film language for linguistic analysis. Rocío Montoro, in Ch. 4, uses a stylistics framework to analyze the realization of mind style in both the novel and movie Enduring love. In Ch. 5, Roberta Piazza examines the discourse of killers in realist horror movies and its deviance from pragmatic norms. The following chapter by Derek Bousfield and Dan McIntyre is an in-depth and multimodal case study of the interplay between linguistic and non-linguistic aspects of emotion and empathy in one specific scene in the movie Goodfellas. Rose Ann Kozinski (Ch. 7) employs the Dictionary of affect in language to analyze and quantify emotional language in James Bond films and compares the results to data from the Austin Powers parodies. Carmen D. Maier (Ch. 8) explores the multimodal composition of film trailers and introduces the generic structural stages of comedy film trailers.

In the second part of the collection, Michael Toolan (Ch. 9) opens the field of televisual discourse with his contribution on the incomprehensibility of dialogue in the television series The wire. In Ch. 10, Monika Bednarek uses keyword and cluster analysis to evaluate the diachronic and intersubjective stability found in the dialogue of televisual characters in Gilmore girls. Susan Mandala (Ch. 11) explores the development of positive and negative politeness in a cybernetic character of the science fiction series Star trek: Voyager. In Ch. 12, Claudia Bubel analyzes the construction of relationships through the shifting of alignment patterns in Sex and the city, a process which results in informing the audience about friendship circles on the screen. The following chapter by Brian Paltridge, Angela Thomas, and Jianxin Liu also employs data from Sex and the city, with an analysis of the construction of identity through the genre of casual conversation. Alexander Brock (Ch. 14) concludes the collection with a contribution on the manipulation of the language system to achieve humor in comedies.

The articles in this collection consist mainly of in-depth case studies of particular movies or television series, which offer valuable insights in the budding study of telecinematic discourse. The contents are based on several different perspectives and methodologies (e.g. pragmatics, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, and stylistics) and most authors not only base their analysis on purely linguistic aspects but also use a multimodal approach to interpreting their data. Overall, this collection is a first step in the systematic analysis of telecinematic discourse and illustrates the need for further research in this field.