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Discourse Analysis
Week 1: Introduction to the course and an overview of Discourse Analysis
Discourse Analysis (DA) investigates the use of language in context, or language in use.
The elements of discourse
Discourse is a communication process,
resulting in a communication act,
realized as a text
Discourse can be transmitted verbally (using words) and non-verbally (using actions and other types of
expressions).
Discourse=oral discourse
written discourse
non-verbal behavior
graphics
Question 1: What are the elements in each of the above?
e.g., oral discourse includes pause, tones, ...
The process of discourse draws on context and language to create text.
We are concerned with the acceptability of text.
Acceptability is a function of appropriateness and grammaticality
Appropriateness is determined primarily by cultural and situational factors.
Question 2: Give an example of context acceptability
Grammaticality is a measure of language usage.
A grammatical text means most readers or listeners accept the language of the text and find no serious fault in it.
We will discuss discourse grammar (just like we have sentence grammar).
Grammaticality is determined by communication functions, but not so much by forms.
Discourse analysis tries to find patterns from the data collected in different contexts.
It is not a correct-or-incorrect, yes-or-no, black-or-white type of decision.
We'd rather find the degree or level of a phenomenon, and try to interpret the meaning behind.
Text
when genre matches register
Language
register
Context
genre
appropriateness
grammaticality
acceptability
Question 3: What are some elements in “context” and in “language”?
e.g., Context includes: participants, setting, …
Question 4: Analyze the following conversation.
A: When will he come?
B: (Silent)
A: When will he come?
B: What's the matter with you? It can be anytime, anytime!
Gender and age of A and B?
Relation of A and B?
Place and time it takes place?
Their relation to “he”?
DA is an umbrella term.
Under DA we have at least the following branches of studies:
Pragmatics
Interactional analysis
Conversational analysis
Ethnographical communication
Variation analysis/narrative analysis
Functional analysis (thematic and information structures)
Post structuralist/social theories
Critical discourse analysis
Mediated discourse analysis
Textural analysis
Stylistic analysis for literary/non-literary texts
Question 5: What kind of DA is involved in the following research questions?
1. To develop a package for a new “fair trade coffee” brand. What texts, images, slogans, color tone, and
information are “appropriate” and “effective” for the target consumers?
2. Is Teacher A teaching communicatively? Is Teacher A more communicative than Teacher B?
3. How does E. Hemingway write differently than C. Dickinson?
4. How President Ma change his speech style over the past ten years?
Question 6: What possible applications of DA can you think of?
Possible fields: Education, medicine, law, news media, politics, international affairs, business,…