Edited by Roberta Piazza, Monika Bednarek and Fabio Rossi
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 211] 2011
► pp. 205–223
Chapter 11. Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine
A case study of language and character in a televisual text
Arguing that work in cultural studies has limited the study of televisual character in various ways, this paper outlines an alternative, linguistic method of studying character in television drama by presenting a case study of one particular construct, Seven-of-Nine in the television series Star Trek: Voyager, one of the later offerings from the Star Trek franchise. Starting from the observation that linguistic behaviour is often a clue to character (Culpeper 2001; Bennison 1993; Toolan 1988), this study applies Brown and Levinson’s (1987) theory of linguistic politeness to Seven’s language across three seasons (78 episodes) of the series. The analysis reveals that manipulations in the expression of positive and negative politeness serve to humanise the cybernetic Seven, making manifest for the audience internal changes in her character that allow her gradual and successful integration into the community that is the Voyager crew.
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