PAPER ASSIGNMENT #1 – Language and Nonverbal Interaction in a Conversation
IMPORTANT: See next page for key info about format requirements, policies, grading criteria, and getting help!
You will be analyzing the communication in a conversation among characters in an assigned television show/episode. You must
write your paper on the specific show/episode that your TA assigns you to watch. Once you know which TV program and episode
to watch, select one particular interaction/conversation within the show to analyze.
Your goal is to show how specific course concepts are operating in the conversation that you choose and make a case
for the importance of those concepts for the characters (as if they were real people). In your paper, you must:
1) Identify and analyze two important language concepts that are operating within the interaction.
2) Identify and analyze two important nonverbal codes that are operating within the interaction.
3) Explain how the language and nonverbal issues that you’ve discussed are operating together to produce
some important effect(s) for the characters (e.g., on their lives, relationships, goals, etc.).
WHICH CONCEPTS MAY YOU CHOOSE?
Language concepts: Choose from these (covered in lecture or Ch 4 or both, as indicated):
connotative vs. denotative meaning of words/phrases (lec & Ch 4); euphemisms (section & Ch 4); equivocal language (lec &
Ch 4); speech accommodation or code switching (lec & Ch 4); powerful vs. powerless speech styles (lec); high vs. low
language (Ch 4); group slang (Ch 4); professional jargon (Ch 4); one of the language & identity issues (such as gender or
culture) (Ch 4); one of the problematic language issues (such as hurtful language, labeling, or profanity) (Ch 4).
Nonverbal codes: Choose from these (covered in lecture and/or Ch 5): paralanguage (or specific aspects of
paralanguage); appearance; proxemics; kinesics (or specific types of kinesics); oculesics; haptics; chronemics
For the introduction: Identify which interaction (in the show) that you are analyzing, and be sure to provide a thesis
statement(s) about what you plan to discuss and what is the larger point(s) of your paper (keep the intro brief!).
For each separate language and nonverbal concept: Define your term(s) (including citing sources in APA style) and
give evidence that the particular language or nonverbal usage is indeed going on in the scene (i.e., provide specific
examples of dialogue and character actions). Make a case for how the concept appears to have a significant impact on
the interaction(s) between characters (i.e., how the use of the language or nonverbal concept ties/relates to your
thesis). This might be something like how the issue(s) ended up creating/resolving misunderstandings or conflict; how
the characters’ relationships, judgments, perceptions, or reactions were affected; etc.
For tying everything together: In your paper, you should be building toward some point(s) that you wish to make
(i.e., your thesis). So, you will need to do some tying together of your concepts “as you go along” in the paper (i.e.,
provide good transitions between issues; note an important connection between a verbal and nonverbal issue that
happened at the same time, etc.). But you will also need to give some separate space to pull your four concepts all
together and discuss how the different issues affect one another, in order to draw your more complex conclusions.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
1) Choose your interaction/scene wisely. I suggest you choose the scene based on interesting language use, because
nonverbals are usually much easier to identify in any scene. When you watch, look at the word choices/phrasings
characters use. Think about how and why different characters react in certain ways to what is being said, and about
whether characters use a particular style of speaking (slang, vocabulary, etc.) in particular contexts or with
particular people. Then look through the course concepts to see which ones fit with what you have observed.
2) Choose your concepts wisely. You have a lot of choices, so choose the concepts for which you can make the most
interesting/insightful analysis that advances your thesis. Avoid choosing two concepts that are similar or have so
much overlap that you end up repeating yourself. For example, the use of euphemisms is closely tied to the
connotation/denotation issue, so you would not want to use both of these issues as your two language concepts.
3) Make thorough and thoughtful arguments! Your own opinion is NOT enough – use appropriate reading and/or
lecture material to define course concepts and support your claims about their consequences, as well as give
concrete examples from the scene. You need to prove to your reader for each issue that you know what the concept
is, that it is going on in the interaction, and that it matters for the characters in some important way.
Purchase answer to see full attachment