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The diffusion of private TV networks in Italy during the past decades has seen an increasing use of TV sales. Here we shall consider the specific language variety of these programmes, to illustrate the popularization of various technical discourses related to different fields, such as: technology, food, medicine, etc. The analysis of a selected collection of videorecorded samples of such programmes (taken from various Italian TV networks in 1991) has shown a peculiar mixture of characteristics (oral/written discourse, formal/informal speech, specific/general terms) and a message structuring which reflects the opposite needs of popularization (due to the audience) and specialization (due to the products advertized). The study is based on about 2 hours of oral speech, taken from 14 sales programmes recorded from various private Italian TV nets on September 19 and 20, 1991. The limited length of the sample examined is balanced by the variety of speakers intervening in the programmes (20), all with slight region al accents, and by the different products presented for sale: cosmetics, gymnastic tools, mattresses, liquid manure, electrical household appliances, screw spanners, furniture, drawing machines.
Here is the list of the programmes analysed, with the indication of date, TV net, broadcasting time, name and type of product. The quotation reported in this study will refer to each program by using the numbers on the left of the following list:
(1) 19.9.91, Canale 3, 11:15 a.m., "Monica Sport", body creams.
(2) 19.9.91, Canale 3, 11:15 a.m., "Monica Sport", cyclette.
(3) 19.9.91, RTV 38, 11 :30 am., whipper.
(4) 19.9.91, Canale 3, 11:35 a.m., Imiflex, spring mattress.
(5) 19.9.91, Rete 37, 11:50 a.m., television set.
(6) 19.9.91, Rete 37, 12 a.m., slimming product.
(7) 19.9.91, Rete 37, 12 a.m., GP Italia, slimming product.
(8) 20.9.91, Rete 37, 10:10 a.m., Mobilmarket, furniture.
(9) 20.9.91, Canale 3, 10:20 a.m., screw spanner set.
(10) 20.9.91, Canale 3, 10:20 a.m., Lombrichina, liquid manure.
(11) 20.9.91, RTV 38, 10:10 a.m., hand-held appliance against arthritic pain.
(12) 20.9.91, Canale 3, 10:35, drawing machine.
(13) 20.9.91, Rete 37, 10:35, Yang, product against muscular pain.
(14) 20.9.91, Telemaremma, 10:45 a.m., hydromassage appliance.
Most of the recorded programmes are based on a monologue, sometimes interrupted by dialogues with testimonials, like in the programmes (3), (7), (11), (13).
1. Features of oral discourse
A specific characteristic of oral communication is the absence of a long-range discourse organisation, which causes frequent pauses, changes in the discourse structure, wrong concordances, interrupted sentences, etc. The speakers whose oral production has here been analysed are experts in oral communication, and therefore their language cannot be considered an example of naturally-occurring speech: they have a very clear track to follow in their discourse, although any possible deviation is allowed to fill such a track with typical digressions and other features of oral spontaneous communication. For this reason we have observed both features of oral language and of written communication (see next chapter).
As a typical element of oral contemporary Italian (which are not or only seldom present in formal written texts) we have noticed various ways of giving emphasis to parts of the discourse, in particular the dislocation of the noun to the right or to the left of the phrase, and the insertion of the corresponding pronoun:
Se i prodotti vegetali, le creme, li avete gia (1), (1) vediamoli subito questi regali (2) di confezione ne basta una sola (7) l'ho consigliato alla mia amica ... perche ne gioisse anche lei di questo apparecchio (11)
The so-called "split sentence", (2) which used to be condemned by Italian grammaticians as a gallicism, is also present in the oral speeches analysed. This particular clause, which is more and more present nowadays not only in oral conversation, but also in written mass media and informal texts, is composed of two parts connected with che (that/who), the first based on the verb to be, and the second on the main verb of the sentence:
cio che e importante e che voi dedichiate alla Doublette (2), sono io stesso che ho fatto la panna (3), sono io stesso che la sto offiendo a dei ragazzini (3), non e che noi andiamo a lavorare per lui (11)
In one case we have even found a very complex and obscure period made Out of a double split sentence accompanied by the dislocation of the noun to the right and the repetition of the relevant pronoun:
garantiamo dei risultati che e Monica Sport che li garantisce, ma siete voi stessi a garantirveli (2)
Apart from some cases of rather complicated structures, like this latter one, generally the grammar of oral Italian shows a tendency to simplification. This feature is to be noticed in the high presence of coordinate sentences instead of subordinate sentences (mostly relative or causal clauses).
The frequent use of se (if) is generally related to a hypothetical period of the first type, expressing reality, with the following correlative tenses in the protasis and in the apodosis:
a) present tense + present tense: se andate ... ve la fanno pagare (1) se ... li avete gia ... potete scegliere (1) se magari le avete pesanti ... se vi fanno male ..., se soffirite..., se usate ..., se abusate ..., ecco che io ho bisogno di fare (2) se io voglio diminuire anche quello me la mangio meno zuccherata (3) come posso correre al telefono se ancora non vedo il prezzo (4) se dividiamo ii valore ... abbiamo un valore (4) se uno tira un filo lui lo seuce tutto (4) se mia moglie ... diventa come lei, annullo il viaggio (7) se lei mi segue attentainente le faccio vedere (8) se voi vedete il funzionamento dello Yang, se si muovono i nervi di conseguenza ne fluisce (sic) anche la circolazione sanguigna (13) b) present tense + future: se io ho un problema ... ecco che usero (2) se il mio problema ... e in tutto il corpo ... usero (2) Se pero lei …