Department of Linguistics

Courtney and Aimee: How Courtney met her boyfriend menu

Courtney and Aimee: How Courtney met her boyfriend

Sound clip: 

Download: Courtney, F, 17, Jamaican_ Aimee, F, 19, Jamaican.WAV

Discussion points: 

Digest link


The abstract is provided by the interviewer (line 3). Courtney frames her story as 'funny' in her opening line (line 4) and sets the scene in lines 4-10 (an orientation section). She gives the main story about 'what happened' (the complicating action) in lines 11, 14-16,18, 22 and 26-29. In between, Courtney gives plenty of details about how she was feeling at the time (lines 5-7, 12-13, and 29). In lines 30-35 she talks about how their relationship developed. The resolution is in lines 35 and 36.

Note that Aimee's comments (lines 17, and 19-21) support Courtney's opening comment (line 4) by making sure that the interviewer realises why the story is funny.

Quotative expressions

Courtney introduces direct reported speech (reporting what she said to the boy who is now her boyfriend) with BE LIKE (lines 15 and 26. Aimee uses SAY for this purpose (line 20); note that the subject of SAY is ellipted here.


Courtney uses so (line 13) to boost the force of the adjective annoyed.


Courtney downtones the force of funny (line 4) with kind of.

Other features

Prepositions: the preposition todoes not always occur with verbs that themselves contain the meaning of movement towards somewhere (GO in line 6 and SEND in line 7). This seems to be a recent development in some varieties of spoken English.

Bare infinitive: Courtney says trying talk, with a bare infinitive  (line 16), not trying to talk, with a full infinitive. TRY is one of the verbs that is beginning to be used in this way by some speakers of English (HELP is another).

Vocabulary: Whagwan (line 18); this phrase, of Jamaican origin and originally meaning ‘what's going on?’, is often used as a greeting by young people in London.


Courtney and Aimee are two girls whose families are from Jamaica. Courtney is 17 and Aimee is 19. Both live in inner London. In this short extract Courtney tells a short narrative about how she met her current boyfriend. Both girls think it is a funny story. Although short, the extract illustrates several typical aspects of narrative structure. It also shows how friends collaborate in making sure that the listener understands the point of the story. Courtney uses two features (preposition absence and a bare infinitive after TRY) that are recent developments in spoken English.

Transcript PDF: 

Courtney, Aimee_How Courtney met her boyfriend.pdf

Discussion points PDF: 

Courtney and Aimee _discussion points.pdf


Courtney, 17, Jamaican; Aimee, 19, Jamaican

How Courtney met her boyfriend

1 Courtney:      he's older than me he's twenty   mm .    he's in uni at the moment .. and
2                       he's got a job .. [Aimee: xxx] so that's good . yeah . 

3 Interviewer:   so how did you meet him? ..  

4 Courtney:      it was kind of funny
5                      I was upset .
6                      no I was pissed off going shop
7                      cos my mum sent me shop three times .
8                      and I was walking back .
9                      I dunno I had a screw on my face
10                    and then he was riding past on a bike .
11                    so he started talking to me
12                    and I really didn't wanna talk to him
13                    I was so annoyed
14                    I was on the phone to someone that I was going out with at the moment
15                    . and I was like "oh can you call me back"
16                    cos he keeps trying talk /to me/

17 Aimee:                                               /she did/ that to her boyfriend /you know/

18 Courtney:                                                                                          /whagwan/

19 Aimee:         <laughter> on the phone to her boyfriend yeah
20                    says to her boyfriend "can you call me back"
21                    so she can talk to another man <laughter>

22 Courtney:    so he took my number .
23                    but apparently . er he lives round my area
24                    and he goes he's been like pl. the friends the guys that I knew .
25                    he hung around with them
26                    I was like "I've never seen you before" .
27                    so we started talking .
28                    and we got in arguments
29                    cos he was pissing me off ..
30                    then he got me a job ..
31                    cos he's a supervisor .
32                    so he got me a job .
33                    then we stopped talking again
34                    we started talking again .
35                    and then we just started going out .
36                    two months next week    two months   yes <laughs>  

37 Interviewer: is he Jamaican? 

38 Courtney:    yeah he's half Jamaican half Portuguese


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