Department of Linguistics

Tina: Walking home from cadets menu

Sound clip: 

Download: Walking home from cadets.WAV

Discussion points: 

                       Tina: Walking home from cadets

Digest links:

Conversational historical present tense Tina switches to this tense to contrast what her friends wanted to do (lines 11 and 14) with her own thoughts, and to add drama to the moment when she and her friends were confronted by first one and then a group of threatening boys (lines 30 and 31).

Discourse markers

oh (line 4) suggests that Tina has remembered something that happened that she thinks is worth talking about. It therefore marks the beginning of a story. Elsewhere in the extract oh occurs at the beginning of reported speech or thought (lines 18, 38 and 42). In addition to marking the start of the quote it shows that the speaker is reacting to what the previous speaker said or did, sometimes offering an evaluation (lines 18 and 42) or indicating that she has just remembered something relevant (line 38).Oh my god (line 33) is a fixed expression.

ok(lines 12, 21, 25 and 44) marks the beginning of a stretch of reported thought, and shows that Tina accepts the situation and, sometimes (lines 12 and 21) that she has taken a decision about how she is going to deal with it. In line 41 ok marks the end of a short stretch of reported speech, and is used to mean 'alright'.

you know (line 42) involves the listeners in the story, suggesting that they know the kind of thing the boy would have been saying. On this occasion you know functions in the same way as a general extender.

right(line 7) at the end of a clause can function in the same way as clause-final yeah. Here Tina has set the scene for the events that she is intending to talk about and is checking that the listener is following and has understood.

yeah(line 12), similarly, occurs at the end of a clause (here, a reported speech clause). Tina checks that the listeners have understood and then continues with her account of what she thought.

Indefinite this (lines 7, 9, 36 and 39) Tina uses this to introduce new characters in the story. Not that this in lines 11 and 14 is deictic, referring to places relevant to where the events in the story were happening (this way and this area), to the general situation (line 18)

Nonstandard grammar

Tina uses multiple negation (sometimes termed negative concord or double negation) on line 26; and never as a past tense negator. She also uses done as the past tense of DO. All these forms are very common in vernacular varieties of English around the world (the standard English equivalent of they never done nothing is they didn't do anything). Note, though, that she uses the standard past tense forms of SEE (lines 9, 29 and 45) and BE (lines 34 and 43) rather than the common nonstandard past tense forms see and was. Note, too, that most speakers use nonstandard grammar variably: here, Tina uses standard didn't on line 47 (they didn't know it was me) rather than nonstandard never (they never knew it was me).

Quotative expressions

Tina introduces reported direct speech with BE LIKE (lines 11, 40, 41, 42,48, 49, 50 and 52), GO (lines 30 and 31), SAY (line 13) and the new form THIS IS +speaker (line 14). To introduce reported thought (or inner dialogue '“ in other words, what she said to herself) she uses THINK (lines 10, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 37, 44) and also BE LIKE (line 33). It is not clear whether BE LIKE on line 33 introduces reported thought or reported speech.


jack, 'mug' or 'rob' (lines 4, 25 and 46)

bless, as a discourse marker (oh bless in line 42) can mean 'let it go, stop'; as an adjective (they're bless in line 42) it means 'OK' or, sometimes, 'sweet'.



Tina, an 18 year old mixed-race White British/Indian, tells a story in this extract about how she avoided being mugged when she was walking home with two friends. Like many of the stories people tell in everyday life, much of the detail lies in what people said and thought, including herself, so the extract is rich in quotative expressions. When the quotative is BE LIKE it is not always clear whether it is introducing what someone said or what they were thinking. This is a typical characteristic of this expression.

Transcript PDF: 

Walking home from cadets transcript.pdf

Discussion points PDF: 

Walking home from cadets_discussion points.pdf


oh and I nearly got jacked . <laughter>
when I was coming home from cadets <laughter>
I was at cadets on Thursday right?
and erm me and my friend (name) and this girl called (name) usually get the bus home but we have to walk . up a . some big hill .
and I saw this big gang
and I thought . "I don't think we should go this way cos look at the big gang"
and they're like "ah yeah we'll go back and we'll get the teacher to bring us" the cadet teacher
and I thought "ok now I'm not being that wimpy” yeah “I'm not going that far"
I said "we'll just walk up the other way"
this is them "it's alright for you you know your way around this area you can get away from them"
I thought "no but they won't see us going up here"
so they thought "no we'll just walk down"
so I thought "oh how sad is this"
so I thought "follow them"
and then we saw (name) and (name) these other boys who think they're proper bad . and we thought "ok we'll walk with them and these other two Turkish girls"
. so we walked past the big gang and the girls they get out on their phones
and I thought "how thick can you get . getting your phones out when there's a big bunch of people there"
and I thought "ok we're gonna get jacked"
but they never done nothing
so when we turned around the corner
I looked round
and I saw the guy running towards us .
and (name) goes . before this he goes "they're just pussies man all I wanna do is go home"
next minute about ten of them are surrounding us going "<kisses teeth> come here come here blood come here come here what you got for me?"
and I was like "oh my god"
and the rest of them were just leaving him while me and my friend (name) thought "no we can't leave him" .
then I was looking at this boy on the bike
and I was thinking "I swear I know you"
so then afterwards I was like "oh yes (name)"
this guy called (name)
I was like "you alright (name)?"
he was like "yeah ok"
he was like "oh bless bless leave them all alone x” you know “they're bless"
all this crap that they were saying
so I thought “ok I got them out of it” so
and I saw some of my primary school mates
they tried to jack us and all <tut>
they didn't know it was me .
I was like "I know you your name's (name) (name) and (name)"
and all of them I was like "yeah I know you"
I was like "I'm little geeky (name) do you remember me?" <laughter>
and they're like "ah I remember you"
I was like "yeah <tut> I've changed a lot" 

Return to top