Homogeneity in Vietnamese Talk Shows

Ton-Nu, Thuc-Anh

Bielefeld University, Germany


Sociolinguistic studies about Vietnamese in terms of the macro and micro connections have dealt mainly with historical language policies and language standardization, whereas Vietnamese and its use have considerably changed together with the change of the socio-cultural condition in Vietnam. The emergence of talk shows is a reflection of this, which has not been comprehensively researched. My research, which analyses talk shows on Hue Vietnam Television (HVTV) both at the micro and macro levels, therefore contributes to bridging this gap.

Critical discourse analysis, which considers “language as a form of social practice” (Fairclough 1989:15), analyses discourses in order to “map three forms of analysis onto one another: analysis of (spoken or written) language texts, analysis of discourse practice (processes of text production, distribution and consumption) and analysis of discursive events as instances of social cultural practice” (Fairclough 1995:2). Based on this approach, my research seeks to answer the following two questions: (1) how do social facts and the selection of talk show themes and guests interact? (2) how do the linguistic discussion strategies and the organisational structures of the Vietnamese mass media interplay as they must by law function and operate under the government direction? The research data is the recordings of talk shows broadcast for the talk show programme Van Hoa Ung Xu – Behaviour Culture on HVTV in 2005. Research findings have revealed that the talk show making ranged from the selection of discussion topics and guests, the moderation and the production processes to the final show represent partly the existing social issues and the topics are discussed in such a way to guide people to behave corresponding to the social norms. An example is the show Me chong Nang dau – Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law, broadcast on October 3rd, 2005, which is considered to be in the wedding season. The discussion touches upon the everlasting problems emerged between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law: the generation gap and the love for the same man when they are supposed to live under the same roof. The guests are divided into two groups: experts (Th and T), whose roles are to give advice to the audience and good role models of mothers-in-law (O) and daughters-in-law (C). Both guest categories come from a socially respected background as they are or used to be government officials. The topic discussion is divided into six episodes and each episode proceeds as a sequence of questions and answers of the host and guests. It is introduced by a video clip of an interview, a documentary film, a poem recital praising the daughter’s good attitude towards her mother-in-law or a switch to another guest or a combination of them. The host poses questions to each guest and the guest gives the answer. The guests’ answers modify and complement each other; counter-arguments are not found.

The research results provide evidence to the fact that homogeneity is the key characteristics of the Vietnamese culture in both the mass media structure and the linguistic strategies used in public discussion.

Session: Paper session
Television 2
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 10