“He’s such a Harry Potter!“ – The influence of Mass Media on German adolescent girls’ interactions

Janet Spreckels

Paedagogische Hochschule Freiburg, Germany

WS156: Interfaces between media, speech, and interaction

It is common sense in interactional sociolinguistics that mass media have an important impact on language use. This is especially true for youth language: “The media are not external to the category youth but are intrinsically involved in its construction” (Lury 1996: 211). Media knowledge is omnipresent among teenagers, so that they can draw on it any time and integrate it into the ongoing interaction. And they do so! In the course of my ethnographic and conversation analytical research of a group of German adolescent girls, I found that the girls constantly appropriate bits and pieces of media discourse and embed them in their everyday interactional practices. Doing this, they employ various linguistic and communicative resources, such as singing, quoting, voicing or performing entire stretches of media discourse. The girls identify so much with the media that the boundaries between reality and film plots, song lyrics, TV advertisements etc. often become blurred in their everyday interactions. This multilayered integration of media resources in their everyday interactions makes it sometimes difficult to understand what is going on in the girls’ conversation from an outside point of view. Youth language research that ignores the influence of the media on young people’s speech misses out on various phenomena of the interaction.

In my paper I want to demonstrate incidents of the girls’ interactive appropriation of media resources by addressing the following questions:

• Which kinds of media do the girls refer to?

• When and in which ways do they employ media resources?

• What is the discursive function of the media reference/ quote etc?

It will be interesting to compare the findings of my research on this small group of German girls with the practices of adolescents from other countries and cultural backgrounds in order to find out if there are universal phenomena in the intertwining of media discourse and everyday interactions.

Lury, Celia (1996): Consumer Culture. London: Routledge.

Session: Workshop (part 1)
Interfaces between media, speech, and interaction
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 04