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In sociolinguistics, SPEAKING or the SPEAKING model, is a model socio-linguistic study (represented as a mnemonic) developed by Dell Hymes. It is a tool to assist the identification and labeling of components of interactional linguistics that was driven by his view that, in order to speak a language correctly, one needs not only to learn its vocabulary and grammar, but also the context in which words are used.
To facilitate the application of his representation, Hymes constructed the acronym, S-P-E-A-K-I-N-G (for setting and scene, participants, ends, acts sequence, key, instrumentalities, norms, & genre) under which he grouped the sixteen components within eight divisions.
The model had sixteen components that can be applied to many sorts of discourse: message form; message content; setting; scene; speaker/sender; addressor; hearer/receiver/audience; addressee; purposes (outcomes); purposes (goals); key; channels; forms of speech; norms of interaction; norms of interpretation; and genres.
Setting and Scene
"Setting refers to the time and place of a speech act and, in general, to the physical circumstances". The living room in the grandparents' home might be a setting for a family story. Scene is the "psychological setting" or "cultural definition" of a scene, including characteristics such as range of formality and sense of play or seriousness. The family story may be told at a reunion celebrating the grandparents' anniversary. At times, the family would be festive and playful; at other times, serious and commemorative.
Speaker and audience. Linguists will make distinctions within these categories; for example, the audience can be distinguished as addresses and other hearers. At the family reunion, an aunt might tell a story to the young female relatives, but males, although not addressed, might also hear the narrative.
Purposes, goals, and outcomes. The aunt may tell a story about the grandmother to entertain the audience, teach the young women, and honor the grandmother.
Form and order of the event. The aunt's story might begin as a response to a toast to the grandmother. The story's plot and development would have a sequence structured by the aunt. Possibly there would be a collaborative interruption during the telling. Finally, the group might applaud the tale and move onto another subject or activity.
Clues that establish the "tone, manner, or spirit" of the speech act. The aunt might imitate the grandmother's voice and gestures in a playful way, or she might address the group in a serious voice emphasizing the sincerity and respect of the praise the story expresses.
Forms and styles of speech. The aunt might speak in a casual register with many dialect features or might use a more formal register and careful grammatically "standard" forms.
Social rules governing the event and the participants' actions and reactions. In a playful story by the aunt, the norms might allow many audience interruptions and collaboration, or possibly those interruptions might be limited to participation by older females. A serious, formal story by the aunt might call for attention to her and no interruptions as norms.
The kind of speech act or event; for the example used here, the kind of story. The aunt might tell a character anecdote about the grandmother for entertainment, or an exemplum as moral instruction. Different disciplines develop terms for kinds of speech acts, and speech communities sometimes have their own terms for types.
- Note that the categories are simply listed in the order demanded by the mnemonic, not by importance
- Hymes (1974), p.53-62.
- Hymes (1974), p.55.
- Hymes (1974), pp.55-56.
- Hymes (1974), pp.54 and 56.
- Hymes (1974), pp.56-57.
- Hymes (1974), pp.58-60.
- Anticipating that he might be accused of creating an (English language) "ethnocentric" mnemonic — and, thus, by implication, an (English language) "ethnocentric" theory — Hymes comments that he could have, for instance, generated a French language mnemonic of P-A-R-L-A-N-T: namely, participants, actes, raison (resultat), locale, agents (instrumentalities), normes, ton (key), types (genres) (1974, p.62).