Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue May 29 14:53:08 UTC 2007

On May 28, 2007, at 8:00 PM, James C Stalker wrote:

> Given that these are broadcasts, is it possible that the discourse
> structure
> expects drop in listeners who may want to know which Johnny or
> whoever the
> speaker is talking about or to?  When I am driving and listening to
> NPR, my
> attention is often shifted to a total focus on the potentially
> dangerous
> situation in front of me.  When I can return to listening as well as
> driving, I am likely to come into an interview or whatever in
> progress.
> Johnny won't do.  Johnny who?
> Doug Harris writes:
>> Alan Chartok, the main man (president, political commentator, overall
>> overseer but _not_ CBW) at WAMC Public Radio in Albany NY does the
>> same
>> thing on most of his half-hour one-on-ones with politicos. It is
>> _very_
>> awkward-sounding, as if he doesn't know whether to be familiar and
>> call
>> them by their first name or address them more formally...
>> At 11:00 AM -0700 5/26/07, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:

>>> i've been sort-of-watching a long Biography episode about Johnny
>>> Depp.  one of his biographers provides a great many comments about
>>> Depp and his work -- always referring to him as "Johnny Depp", never
>>> "Johnny" or "Depp"...

two different situations here: third-person reference in my report,
second-person addresses in doug harris's.  as doug points out, the
second-person case presents a social difficulty, since all of the
alternatives (FN, LN, FN+LN, Prefix+LN, etc.) convey something about
the relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee -- so it
actually makes sense for the interviewer to avoid address forms
entirely.  and indeed that's what most of them do; check out terry
gross on Fresh Air, for example.

the exceptions are (a) cases where the interviewer and interviewee
are acquaintances or friends, in which case both are likely to use
FN; (b) cases in which the interviewer wants to project intimacy with
the interviewee (think sports interviewers and Charlie Rose), via FN;
(c) cases in which the interviewer wants to express deference,
usually via Prefix+LN ("Professor Chomsky").

if the interviewer avoids address forms, then for the sake of the
listener, the interviewee can be periodically identified by third-
person reference ("I'm talking with FN+LN", "We'll return to this
interview with FN+LN in a moment").  on tv, of course, identifying
information can be displayed on the screen (although this
information is usually on the screen for only a little while, and
usually isn't repeated when the interviewee returns after other
material intervenes, unless it's been some time since the
interviewee's last appearance).

as jim stalker points out, on the radio, address avoidance can make
it hard for listeners to figure out who they're hearing.  this is
especially troublesome for me, since i collect a fair number of
examples from radio interviews; often, i catch the words first time
they go past, but then have to go back and listen to the recording on
the program site to figure out who the speaker was.

in the case of third-person reference, avoidance of names (via
pronouns) is often not available, but the choices are less socially
fraught: LN is merely non-intimate (while Prefix+LN is "polite",
sometimes deferential).

the interview form is all around us, in many different variants.  i'd
be astonished if there were no studies of the way address forms and
third-person references are used in different types of interviews, by
different interviewers and different interviewees, etc.  though these
studies might not be very (socio)linguistically sophisticated.


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