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11/23/2017 Dell Hymes's SPEAKING Mnemonic

DellHymes'sSPEAKINGModel

Background

SociolinguistDellHymesdevelopedthefollowingmodeltopromotetheanalysisofdiscourseasaseries
ofspeecheventsandspeechactswithinaculturalcontext.Itusesthefirstlettersoftermsforspeech
componentsthecategoriesaresoproductiveandpowerfulinanalysisthatyoucanusethismodelto
analyzemanydifferentkindsofdiscourse.Mr.McGowanpatricularlyenjoysapplyingthismodelto
storytelling.

TheSPEAKINGModel

SettingandScene
"Settingreferstothetimeandplaceofaspeechactand,ingeneral,tothephysicalcircumstances"
(Hymes55).Thelivingroominthegrandparents'homemightbeasettingforafamilystory.
Sceneisthe"psychologicalsetting"or"culturaldefinition"ofascene,includingcharacteristics
suchasrangeofformalityandsenseofplayorseriousness(Hymes5556).Thefamilystorymay
betoldatareunioncelebratingthegrandparents'anniversary.Attimes,thefamilywouldbefestive
andplayfulatothertimes,seriousandcommemorative.

Participants
Speakerandaudience.Linguistswillmakedistinctionswithinthesecategoriesforexample,the
audiencecanbedistinguishedasaddresseesandotherhearers(Hymes54&56).Atthefamily
reunion,anauntmighttellastorytotheyoungfemalerelatives,butmales,althoughnotaddressed,
mightalsohearthenarrative.

Ends
Purposes,goals,andoutcomes(Hymes5657).Theauntmaytellastoryaboutthegrandmotherto
entertaintheaudience,teachtheyoungwomen,andhonorthegrandmother.

ActSequence
Formandorderoftheevent.Theaunt'sstorymightbeginasaresponsetoatoasttothe
grandmother.Thestory'splotanddevelopmentwouldhaveasequencestructuredbytheaunt.
Possiblytherewouldbeacollaborativeinterruptionduringthetelling.Finally,thegroupmight
applaudthetaleandmoveontoanothersubjectoractivity.

Key
Cuesthatestablishthe"tone,manner,orspirit"ofthespeechact(Hymes57).Theauntmight
imitatethegrandmother'svoiceandgesturesinaplayfulway,orshemightaddressthegroupina
seriousvoiceemphasingthesincerityandrespectofthepraisethestoryexpresses.

Instrumentalities
Formsandstylesofspeech(Hymes5860).Theauntmightspeakinacasualregisterwithmany
dialectfeaturesormightuseamoreformalregisterandcarefulgrammatical"standard"forms.

Norms
Socialrulesgoverningtheeventandtheparticipants'actionsandreaction.Inaplayfulstorybythe
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11/23/2017 Dell Hymes's SPEAKING Mnemonic

aunt,thenormsmightallowmanyaudienceinterruptionsandcollaboration,orpossiblythose
interruptionsmightbelimitedtoparticipationbyolderfemales.Aserious,formalstorybytheaunt
mightcallforattentiontoherandnointerruptionsasnorms.

Genre
Thekindofspeechactoreventforourcourse,thekindofstory.Theauntmighttellacharacter
anecdoteaboutthegrandmotherforentertainment,butanexemplumasmoralinstruction.
Differentdisciplinesdeveloptermsforkindsofspeechacts,andspeechcommunitiessometimes
havetheirowntermsfortypes.

Thesetermscanbeappliedtomanykindsofdiscourse.Sometimesinawrittendiscussionyoumight
emphasizeonlytwoorthreeofthelettersofthemnemonic.Itprovidesastructureforyoutoperceive
components.

WorkCited

Hymes,Dell.FoundationsofSociolinguistics:AnEthnographicApproach.Philadelphia:Uof
PennsylvaniaP,1974.

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