Department of Linguistics

Lydia and Louise: Competing for the floor menu

Lydia and Louise: Competing for the floor

Discussion points: 

Indefinite this(lines 1, 5, 20, 43). Louise sometimes uses this rather than a to introduce something that is new to the discourse. This involves the listeners in the discourse by presenting the new item as if it was actually present.

Non-fluency features
er and erm
Lydia uses erm when she tries to take a turn at speaking (lines 38, 44, 46). She is probably planning the structure of what she intends to say but her erm allows Louise to interrupt and take the floor from her. Note that Louise uses the same strategy herself on line 17 and unlike her friend is successful in taking the floor.

False starts (lines 4, 7, 18, 42, 46, 51) are like crossing out in writing.

Repetition The repetition of the function words that's on (line 12) and there's a (line 22) indicates planning.

Note that the repetition of the content words favourite (line 23) and high (line 28) does not reflect a lack of fluency but instead adds emphasis to the words, like using an intensifier. In line 23 there is additional emphasis from the superlative most and in line 28 from Louise's shouting.

Nonstandard grammar
Louise uses some common nonstandard grammatical forms typical of the local area: past tense done (line 16) and relative what (line 38),

Rhetorical strategies
Louise is perhaps showing off by using a singing voice (line 23) and shouting (line 28). These strategies do, though, make her description very striking. She also uses repetition to add emphasis (see above), the intensifier really (line 37) and says loads of lumps (line 46) rather than simply lumps.

Vague language Louise is intentionally vague on line 6 (the general extender and stuff), 13 (little play area thing), 14 (thegeneral extenderand stuff again) and 15 (a little couch thing). Vague language of this kind usually involves the listeners by suggesting that they understand what is being referred to and so the speaker doesn't need to be specific.


Lydia and Louise are 8  year old white British friends from inner London. Here they are telling the  interviewer about a playground that they like. Louise is a dominating speaker  and Lydia finds it difficult to take the floor. It could be interesting to  compare this extract with Howard and Junior's Dog Story where, unlike Lydia and  Louise, the two boys collaborate in telling their story to the interviewer. It  could also be interesting to see how Louise uses features that typically  involve the listeners in the discourse and that may therefore allow her to keep  the floor.

Discussion points PDF: 

Louise, female aged 8, White British and Lydia, female aged 8, White British

                                                Competing for the floor

1 Louise:                      there's this playground thing called (name of place)
2                                  and <Lydia starts making noises> . and your parents drop you
3                                  off there
4                                  and there's these . there's adults that look after you obviously
5                                  [Arfaan: yeh] and you have to sign in your name on this paper
6                                  [Lydia: yeh] there's toilets and stuff
7                                  then like . so the door's there
8                                  you walk in [Arfaan: uhuh]
9                                  and they sometimes take out the bouncy castle .
10                                bouncy castle's there
11                                /not a bouncy castle it's a little/ 
12 Lydia:                      /that's on . that's on/ saturdays 
13 Louise:                    it's a little play area thing
14                                and over there there are tables where you do art and stuff
15                                and there's a little couch thing over there    
16 Lydia:                      I ju. I done some sexy flowers /you know/ 
17 Louise:                                                                    /and erm/ .
18                                if you go into the little pl.
19                                if you go into the playground outside
20                                you go out /this door/
21 Lydia:                                        /excuse me/
22 Louise:                    and there's a . there's a climbing frames
23                                and . the most <starts using singing voice> favourite favourite 24                                    thing there 
25 Interviewer: what's that? 
26 Louise:                    sorry . is well you've got the low. the low bench the medium
27                                size bench
28                                and the <shouts> high high bench .
29                                and you climb on them
30                                you've obviously got stairs for them
31                                and whatever size you want
32                                you get on it
33                                you pull the rope
34                                but it's hard to pull it
35                                then you have to quickly swing on it
36                                and you're swinging
37                                it's really good    
38 Lydia:                      can I tell you one bit what I like? there's /erm . <shouts> no I
39                                wanna/ 
40 Louise:                                                                                    /and there's a thing
41                                where you have to/
42                                <shouts louder> it's an it thing
43                                where you have to spin around on this rope  
44 Lydia:                      yeh that's called round the world erm  
45 Louise:                    yeh round the world

46 Lydia:                      there's erm . / er thing and it. there's / loads of lumps
47 Louise:                                       /no I'm not talking about the thing I told you/
48: Lydia:                     then you come up you climb on it  
49 Interviewer: yeh  
50 Lydia:                      then you hold on to it [Int: yeh]
51                                no you h. stand up
52                                or you can sit down
53                                and you jump off it
54                                it's fun (xxx)

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