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HIGH PROFILE: A CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS OF TONIGHT TALK SHOW

STARRING JIMMY FALLON

A Research Proposal

Presented to

the Faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences

West Visayas State University

Graduate School

La Paz, Iloilo City

In Partial Fulfilment

of the Requirements for the Master

of Arts in English and Literature

(MAEL)

Mary Spira H. Sumbillo

MARCH 2018
HIGH PROFILE: A CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS OF TONIGHT TALK SHOW

STARRING JIMMY FALLON

MARY SPIRA H. SUMBILLO

Abstract

In this paper the researcher sought to determine the usage of language features, speech acts
and cooperative principles derived from the question and answer portion of top three (3)
viewed episode of the Tonight Talk Show starring Jimmy Fallon. This qualitative research
utilized discourse approach anchored on stylistics specifically the language features, pragmatics
and speech act theory which aimed to understand how a TV personality uses words to elicit the
response of the interviewees and the audience. It also aims to increase the media and social
media awareness in today’s pop culture and show business. Jimmy Fallon was the seventh (7th)
host for the high profiled talk show “Tonight Talk Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” which aired last
April 2014 that made him as one of the high profile hosts in the talk show industry. Tonight
Talk Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is one of the most viewed talk show episodes on YouTube was
able to maintain its fame and influence for almost four (4) years garnering millions of
subscribers, viewers and likes causing the show to be dubbed as the “Top Viewed Talk Show
Episode on YouTube”. This information triggered the researcher to analyze how Jimmy Fallon
would construct his statement in order to arouse the interest of the interviewee and become
attention grabber and relatable to the audience. The researcher gathered data through
observation and analysis of Tonight Talk Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for stylistic analysis.

Keywords: Talk Show, Linguistic Features, stylistics, speech acts, pragmatics, YouTube, High
Profile

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Generally, this study aims to investigate the usage of language features, speech acts and
cooperative principles derived from the question and answer portion of top viewed episode of
the Late Night Talk Show.

Specifically, this study will look into the following:

1. What language features, cooperative principles and speech acts were established by the
interviewer/host?
2. How do these language features, cooperative principles and speech acts influence the
interviewee’s responses?
Theoretical Framework

Language is important and significant in human communication. It is use by the aim of


creating common understanding between the speaker and the hearer in order to know what the
addresser means, on the other hand the addressee should also interpret what the addresser’s
utterance really is to avoid miscommunication. Dealing with this interpretation based on
experience is a tricky affair which sometimes leads to possible misunderstandings (Mey, 1983).
According to Leech (1983), interpreting an utterance is ultimately “A matter of guesswork, or
hypothesis formation.

Regarding on the above statement, interlocutors have to interpret the addresser’s locutionary
act to decode the illocutionary force and provide the perlocutionary effect. In pragmatics, it is
called as conversational implicature, Grice says that conversational implicature can be defined
as “A different pragmatic meaning of an utterance with respect to the literal meaning expressed
by utterance”. (Mey, 1998)

In a case of conversational implicature the addressee crucially makes the assumption that the
speaker is not violating or flouting one of the conversational maxims of relevance, manner,
quality or quantity. According to James R. Hurford, implicature is a concept of utterance
meaning as opposed to sentence meaning. Furthermore, implicature is related to the method by
which speakers work out the indirect illocutions of utterance (1983: 278).

Grice suggested that conversation is based on a shared principle of cooperation, something like:
“Make your conversational contribution what is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the
accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.” This principle
was fleshed out in a series of maxims. Maxims of Quantity (Don’t make your contribution more
informative than is required), Maxims of Quality (Be truthful), Maxim of Relation (Be relevant)
and Maxims of Manner (Be perspicuous.”). These maxims form the basis for inferences that we
draw in conversation, which Grice called implicatures. Grice asserted that different ways of
violating these maxims give rise to different types of implicatures.

Implicature which was derive from violating or flouting the maxims and interpreting the speech
acts can be easily found in conversations taken from literary work of arts like novels or short
stories. This paper presents about the stylistically analyzed discourse between the characters in
the short story of Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants” through pragmatically
examining of the speech acts, maxims and turn taking originate within the conversations.

Austin presented a new picture of analyzing meaning which is described in a relation among
linguistic conventions correlated with words/sentences, the situation where the speaker actually
says some-thing to the hearer, and associated intentions of the speaker. The idea that meaning
exists among these relations is depicted successfully by the concept of acts: in uttering a
sentence, that is, in utilizing linguistic conventions, the speaker with an associated intention
performs a linguistic act to the hearer.

Austin introduces the concept of illocutionary acts, and carefully distinguishes them from
locutionary acts and perlocutionary acts. Locutionary acts include phonetic acts, phatic acts, and
rhetic acts.Perlocutionary acts are attributed to the effect of uttering a sentence. Austin says
that in uttering a sentence the speaker performs an illocutionary act of having a certain force,
which is different from the locutionary act of uttering the sentence, which is to have a meaning,
and also from the perlocutionary act performed by uttering the sentence, which is to achieve
certain effects. By these distinctions, Austin shows that, unlike locutionary acts, illocutionary
acts have a force, and, unlike perlocutionary acts, illocutionary acts are valid and complete
without being reduced to the effect of it.

The theory emphasizes that the utterances have a different or specific meaning to its user and
listener other than its meaning according to the language. The theory further identify that there
are two kinds of utterances, they are called constative and performative utterances. In his
book of ‘How do things with words’ Austin clearly talks about the disparities between the
constative and performative utterances. A constative utterance is something which describes or
denotes the situation, in relation with the fact of true or false. The performative utterance is
something which do not describes anything at all. The utterances in the sentences or in the part
of sentences are normally considered as having a meaning of its own. The feelings, attitudes,
emotions and thoughts of the person performing linguistic act are much of a principal unit here.

Speech act can be analyzed on three levels: the locutionary act, illocutionary force and
perlocutionary effect. Locutionary act is an act of making meaningful utterance known as a
locution or an utterenace act and Illocutionary force is the intended meaning of the speaker
while perlocutionaryeffet is an action or state of mind as a consequence of saying something.

John Searle gives the following classification of illocutionary speech acts:

assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition, e.g.
reciting a creed

directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action, e.g. requests,
commands and advice

commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action, e.g. promises and
oaths

expressives = speech acts that express the speaker’s attitudes and emotions towards the
proposition, e.g. congratulations, excuses and thanks
declarations = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the
declaration, e.g. baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and
wife.

Definition of Terms

For clearer interpretation and better understanding, the following terms were defined
based on their conceptual and operational meanings in the study.

Social Media. According to Meriam Webster’s Dictionary , it is a form of electronic


communication such as websites for social networking through which users create online
communities to share information, ideas and personal messages. Social media is a phrase that
we throw around to describe what we post on sites and applications like Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram and Snapchat. “Social” part refers to interacting with other people by sharing and
receiving information from them while the “media” partv refers to an instrument of
communication like the internet, television, radio and newspaper.
In this study, Social media refers to web-based communication tools that enable people
to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information.
Stylistics. Stylistics is the linguistic study of style in language. It aims to account for
how texts project meaning, how readers construct meaning and why readers respond to text
the way they do (Stockwell & Whiteley, 2010).
In this study, stylistics referred to the method used in analyzing the linguistic style of
the subject which includes her choices of language, thoughts and pictures to express in social
media.
Speech act. A speech act is an act that the speaker performs when making an
utterance. It includes locutionary act which is an act of making a meaningful utterance,
illocutionary act which is a complete speech act whereby the speaker asserts, suggests,
demands or promises while perlocutionary act is a speech act that produces an effect, intended
or not achieved in an addressee by the speaker.
In this study, Speech act refers to the theory contributed to the rules perspective in
communication which provide basis for examining what happens when speaker different
definition and behavior rules.
High Profile. Based on Oxford Living Dictionaries the term “High Profile” means a
position attracting much attention or publicity. However, Collins English Dictionary states that
“high profile” is a position or approach characterized by a deliberate seeking of prominence or
publicity.
YouTube. The term was originated in early 21st century which refers to the proprietary
name of the video-sharing website. In Collins Dictionary the noun term for YouTube is defined
as a trademark a website on which subscribers can post video files while the verb term for this
means to post (a video file) on the YouTube website.
In this study, YouTube referred to the online social networking website where someone can
create a channel and avail video sharing service that allows users to watch videos posted by
other users and upload videos of their own.
Talk Show. It refers to a talk show is a television or radio in which famous people talk
to each other in an informal way and are asked questions about different topics. (Collins
Dictionary, 2017)
In this study, talk show refers to the a television program in which usually well-known
persons engage in discussions or are interviewed.
Mass Media. Mass media is communication that is to a large group, or groups, of
people in a short time (Mass Media, 2013, p.1). This can be written, spoken or broadcast
communication. Some of the most popular forms of mass media are newspapers, magazines,
radio, advertisements, social media, television, Internet, and films/movies. Mass communication
refers to the technology that is used to communicate to a large group, or groups of people in a
short time frame (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2004, p. 22).

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Trend in the Social Media

Today’s modern society has been so much adept to the dynamic trends driven largely by the
demands of a modern knowledge. According to the Yahoo-Nielsen Survey of 2013 In
Garchitorena (2014), the top three sources of media consumption in the Philippines come from
the television, the radio, and the continually rising internet usage. With these media vehicles,
the so-called the fourth estate of the government, one can actually deduce that watching
favourite shows on the televison, listening to radio programs, or even surfing the world-wide
web can have political, social, and economic implications. Social media is one of the fastest
growing categories of media, and is quickly becoming the most important way to expose
publishers’ brands and content to both active readers and potential readers, especially the
young.

Social media users share actions like links, posts and comments with friends, colleagues and
family on the social platforms that resonate with them. Facebook is by far the most popular
social network in the world, reaching more than 80 percent of the world’s Internet users, and
with half its users actively using their accounts at least once per month, according to data
released by GlobalWebIndexin 2014 In European Publisher Council (2015). Facebook is followed
by YouTube, which reaches 60 percent of global Internet users, half of whom use the video site
at least once per month.

Founded in 2005, YouTube is arguable the biggest online video platform worldwide featuring a
wide variety of user-generated and corporate media content that include music videos, TV clips,
as well as other video clips such as video blogs, short original videos, Let's Play gaming videos,
instructional videos on everything from language learning to stain removal, as well as videos
with educational content.
YouTube was originally intended as a platform on which users can post original content thought
to be interesting, funny or worth for other reasons, the website has since grown to become a
powerful money-making tool. With almost 1.5 billion users worldwide YouTube also ranks as the
most popular mobile apps in both Google Play and the Apple App Store worldwide. The
platform's standalone mobile app YouTube Music ranked among the most downloaded mobile
entertainment apps worldwide.

In a 2017 survey according to statista.com, 73 percent of respondents stated that they will be
willing to pay at least 5 U.S. dollar per month for access to YouTube. In another survey, it was
found that over 90 percent of the U.S. population had ever used YouTube to watch music
videos or listen to music and more than half of mobile users in the United States claimed to
watch videos on YouTube daily or several times each day. The rise in smartphones and other
mobile devices usage has also helped increase the consumption of YouTube videos on the go.

Impact of Social Media to the Users

The social and mass media has become integral part of the current generation. The major stats
of 2018 shows that 1, 300,000,000 is the total number of people who use YouTube and 300
hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, however, almost 5 billion videos are
watched every single day.

YouTube gets over 30 million visitors per day and in an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-
olds watch YouTube. According to YouTube statistics 80% of YouTube’s views are from outside
of the U.S. The female users are 38% while the male users are 62% and more than half of
YouTube views come from mobile devices.

Mobile device are used by 4.2 billion users to access social media sites. These stats depict the
huge usage and importance of social media. This usage has also great impact on the users.
(Sameen&Manzoor, et.al. 2015). There are both advantages and disadvantages of this usage.
The advantages include the relation building which has significantly reduced the communication
barriers and the new opportunities for businesses. There is some evidence that social media
tactics can have a positive impact on the reach of public health messages effectively increasing
public awareness, increase knowledge, skill, and change behaviours. In recent years, social
media has become more and more popular because it is playing an important role in
empowering citizens, organization of community activism, social good and even used for
coordination in emergency situations. The disadvantages include the privacy issues, addiction to
the sites and diminishing of social skills. (Sameen&Manzoor, et.al. 2015).

Implication and Effect of Mass Media

The way the thoughts are organized and presented may vary the way viewers interpret it, may
it be positive or negative. This is one of the things to be considered in mass media. Several
researches conducted an analysis of the discourse in mass media. Speech act is one way of
interpreting and understanding common discourse in mass media sites.

Half a century ago, John Austin gave a series of lectures, the William James Lectures at
Harvard, which were published posthumously as a book entitled How to Do Things with Words.
Austin presented a new picture of analyzing meaning; meaning is described in a relation among
linguistic conventions correlated with words/sentences, the situation where the speaker actually
says something to the hearer, and associated intentions of the speaker. The idea that meaning
exists among these relations is depicted successfully by the concept of acts: in uttering a
sentence, that is, in utilizing linguistic conventions, the speaker with an associated intention
performs a linguistic act to the hearer. Austin’s analysis of meaning is unique in the sense that
meaning is not explained through some forms of reduction (Oishi, 2006).

For Austin, meaning is described in a relation among linguistic conventions correlated with
words/sentences, the situation where the speaker actually says something to the hearer and
associated intentions of the speaker. We’ve seen that an utterance which can be used to
express a number of different things, and can be said, in one way or another. Linguistic
meaning is not simply a matter of linguistic convention but is also a matter of one’s intentions in
a given context. One thing that we can do with words is perform our intentions or perform as if
we have certain intentions or commitments, regardless of our actual internal state.

Austin (1956) observes that there is a class of things we can say that, in reporting something
like our intention or desire to act in a certain way on the world, actually seem to constitute the
performance of that act, perhaps regardless of the internal reality of our intention to do so. We
can distinguish three kind of acts (Austin, “How to Do Things with Words”): (4) A locutionary
act, which is simply the act of the utterance itself (i.e. an act of using language) (5) An
illocutionary act, the act performed by or in saying something (associated with the speaker’s
intention to achieve a certain result) (6) A perlocutionary act, or the act that is achieved by
performing an illocutionary act (associated with the audience uptake of speaker’s intention, not
necessarily the intention itself).

What Austin observed was that, while we are in the habit of interpreting utterances/statements
in terms of their truth conditions, there seem to be a whole set of utterances that look a lot like
statements but can’t necessarily be described as true or false. He calls these performative
utterances. Performative utterances can “fail to come off” in a number of ways: It seems like
some conditions have to be met for a performative to be felicitously uttered the convention
invoked must exist and be accepted the circumstances must be appropriate. It seems, from
this, that performatives prioritize linguistic conventions over whatever intentions the speaker
may or may not have: the importance of felicity conditions seems to distinguish them from
constatives/statements that are true or false.

John L. Austin originally introduced the function of speech acts but Searle added to this by
classifying the types of illocutionary speech acts such as representatives, directives,
commissives, expressive and declarations (Baluran 2016).
METHODOLOGY

First, the researcher will pick three episodes with the highest ratings and greatest number of
views on YouTube. These episodes will be transcribed and will be analyzed using Conversation
Analysis in adherence to language features, pragmatics and speech acts. Data for this study is
collected through discourse analysis of the top three most viewed YouTube episode of Tonight
Talk Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Based from the Linguistic Society of America, (2012) Discourse analysis is sometimes defined as
the analysis of language 'beyond the sentence'. This contrasts with types of analysis more
typical of modern linguistics, which are chiefly concerned with the study of grammar: the study
of smaller bits of language, such as sounds (phonetics and phonology), parts of words
(morphology), meaning (semantics), and the order of words in sentences (syntax). Discourse
analysts study larger chunks of language as they flow together.

Speech act theory was utilized for the synthesis of the various significant implications of the
posts to the readers specifically to the followers. In linguistics, a speech act is an utterance
defined in terms of a speaker's intention and the effect it has on a listener. Essentially, it is the
actions which the speaker hopes to provoke in their audience. This area of study is concerned
with the ways in which words can be used not only to present information but also to carry out
actions. It is used in linguistics, philosophy, psychology, legal and literary theories, and even the
development of artificial intelligence (Nordquist, 2017).

The researcher also collected data by visiting blogs and other online sources all discussing
about mass media. This study relied on the investigation and analysis in various dimensions of
the statements and comments of the talk show host using theories under Stylistics and
linguistics approaches in language.