Narrative discourse in TED Talks

Wingrove, Peter (2022). Narrative discourse in TED Talks. English Text Construction, 15(1) pp. 89–111.



This article investigates the extent to which TED talks can be considered a narrative register. This study analyses ‘narrative versus non-narrative discourse’ (Biber 1988) in a corpus of TED talks (n = 2483). TED talks were found to be typically non-narrative (−2.47 mean). However, there was a great degree of variation, with approximately 10% of talks (n = 257) classified as narrative. When TED talks were compared to registers in prior studies they were close to academic prose and presented a similar pattern in terms of disciplinary variation, with ‘soft’ disciplines closer to narratives. When textual data was examined, the average TED talk was found to weave narrative and descriptive elements, but were found to be more descriptive overall.

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