A Tale of Two Conversations

@sandymillin, ELTPics
@sandymillin, ELTPics

It’s my second blog post in about a year! And what a post it is. Well, ok, it’s really not taken me that much time to write and is more a question or two for you, dear reader, based on the transcripts below. Here’s some information you might want before you read:

Location: Dubai

Topic: Lunch

Ordinary level: very very ordinary

So, have a read of these two dialogues and just think about the differences in them and why that may be the case, think about: grammar, phonology, accommodation, communicative competence, adjacency pairs, standard English, ELF, right, wrong, (in)accuracy, and whatever the hell else you like.

Conversation 1

[phone call]

Me: I’m the Atrium shop – that’s all I need to say

Ben: Hm, ah, well I’ll have what you’re having

Me: Dangerous words. I think I’m gonna go for the large falafel granary

Ben: Hm, shit, I had a falafel last night. Get me a tikka mayo, with the granary and all the evil things.

Me: It’s you who doesn’t like tomato, right?

Ben: No, no tomato.

Me: Ok, so tikka mayo with salad, no tomato?

Ben: Yeah. And could you see if they have one of those fresh strawberry things?

Me: aye, no bother. I’m gonna get some antioxidants for my pomegranatey self anyway. See you in a bit.

Ben: Ok, thanks very much.

Me: Bye

[hang up]

Conversation 2

Guy making sandwich (GMS): Hello sir!

Me: Hello! How are you?

GMS: Fine sir. You? Sandwich?

Me: Yes please. Chicken tikka mayo on the granary please.

GMS: Ok sir, granary? [ˈgræˈnæˈre]

Me: Yes please

GMS: All salad? (intonation rising sharply)

Me: yes, all salad. No tomato.

GMS. No tomato?

Me: No tomato.

GMS: Ok sir.

GMS: no cucumber?

Me: Yes cucumber, no tomato.

GMS Ok sir.

… [BREAK IN CONVERSATION – I order next sandwich now]

GMS (to other member of staff): How many pastrami I put?

Staff member: I think four.

Me (jocularly – nice word): Oh, I think five.

Staff member (laughing): Ok sir, yes, put five.

GMS: Ok sir, five, and this (places extra half)

Me (laughing): great! Thanks. Excellent service here.

GMS: [smiles]

GMS: Make it hot?

Me: No thank you

GMS: Want toasted?

Me: No thank you.

GMS: Ok sir. [hands over sandwich]. Thank you sir.

Me: Thank you! Have a good day. G’bye.

GMS: Have a good day sir. Good-bye.

So there you have it. That’s how I get lunch from the place down the road a coupla times a week. But, back to the conversations, there are quite a few differences between the two  on a few different levels. Feel free to leave a comment below with any of your thoughts and I might one day get round to posting my own, probably some time next year at the rate I write here these days. *shakes fist at Distance Delta* *loves it really*

And finally, having thought about all that, I would now recommend you read World Englishes by Jennifer Jenkins and Uncovering Grammar by Scott Thornbury and see if the above gives any further food for thought.

(the sandwich was good, by the way)


One thought on “A Tale of Two Conversations

  1. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for sharing these two conversations. I think they’re a great way of exemplifying the difference between native speakers conversing together and conversations in an ELF context. And they show just how much you can convey ‘without grammar’, where the focus is on using lexical chunks to get the message across.
    Hope you’re enjoying the face-to-face Delta!

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