Download Discourse Analysis (General Introduction)

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Formulaic language wikipedia , lookup

Linguistic insecurity wikipedia , lookup

Social network (sociolinguistics) wikipedia , lookup

World Englishes wikipedia , lookup

Style (sociolinguistics) wikipedia , lookup

Post-excavation analysis wikipedia , lookup

Speech act wikipedia , lookup

Tribe (Internet) wikipedia , lookup

Universal pragmatics wikipedia , lookup

Linguistics wikipedia , lookup

Forensic linguistics wikipedia , lookup

Sociolinguistics wikipedia , lookup

Public rhetoric wikipedia , lookup

What is Discourse Analysis?
Discourse comes from the Latin word 'discursus', which means conversation speech. The
term discourse has different applications for people in different disciplines. It is more
commonly used in fields related to the humanities and social sciences. However, it is
common to associate discourse with language use. Generally, the term refers to any spoken or
written communication. In the restricted sense, early scholars of discourse saw it as any
verbal exchange or conversation. In contemporary times, discourse means “actual instances
of communicative action in the medium of language” (Johnstone, 2008: 2). Discourse can
also be seen as a continuous stretch of spoke or written language larger than a sentence, often
constituting a coherent unit (Pustejovsky 2006). It is also commonly referred to as connected
speech or writing. Discourse can also be described as “all forms of spoken interaction and
written texts of all kinds” (Potter and Wetherell 1987, p.7). Hardy (2001, p. 26) defines
discourse as “a system of texts that brings objects into being”
The foregoing definitions suggest that discourse is not referring strictly to language as
an abstract system with rules or structural relationships of human communication. Rather it
refers to the use of language as a social process as well as a social product. It is what people
do when they draw upon their knowledge of the social world in which they live in to
communicate and interpret meaning. Discourse is an institutionalized way of speaking that
determines not only what we say and how we say it, but also what we do not say which can
be inferred from what we say. The term discourse is often used to refer to meanings at the
more macro level. This approach does not study the individual words spoken by people but
the language used to describe aspects of the world, and has tended to be taken by those using
a sociological perspective (Ogden, 2002). Later in the study, we shall look at an aspect of
discourse analysis that focuses on the “hidden meaning”. According to Henry and Tator
(2002), our language can never be 'neutral' because it bridges our personal and social worlds.
The study of discourse places a lot of emphasis on language and its use in the social
context. While discourse most often denotes an instance of language, it is also important to
note that in other frameworks, discourse is not necessarily restricted to speech and writing; it
can also be conceptualized as inhabiting a variety of other forms, such as visual and spatial.
The term discourse is therefore not strictly limited to the spoken and written media earlier
identified. It extends to different aspects of visual communication (image-enabled
communication). Due to their ability to communicate across a range of contexts, images and
visual information are increasingly playing an important role in how we communicate with
each other in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Scholars in the Systemic Linguistics
school have seen discourse as also encompassing the co-occurrence of multiple modes of
communication (or simultaneous semiotic systems) in a single communicative event
(multimodal discourse) (Kress & Leeuwen, 2001; O’Halloran, 2004).
This book’s focus is on the linguist’s perspective of discourse. Discourse is an
extended stretch of language, such as we find in conversations, narratives, polemical
statements, political speeches, etc. It is not just a string of sentences, one following the other,
but rather it exhibits properties which reflect its organization, coherence, rhetorical force and
thematic focus.
What do Discourse Analysts do?
Before answer the question posed by the title, we need to define discourse analysis. Stubbs
(1983:1) describes DA thus: The term discourse analysis is very ambiguous. Since discourse
analysis has moved the description of language beyond the surface linguistic structure,
scholars from several other disciplines have developed interest in its practice.
In its quest to answer questions on the roles of language in human cognition, art and
social life, social scientists, such as psychologists, sociologists, ethnographers, folklorists,
rhetoricians, political scientists, philosophers have contributed a great deal to the study of
discourse analysis. In contemporary times, discourse analysis has become a multi-disciplinary
study. It generally engages the application of five approaches—conversation analysis,
interactional sociolinguistics, politeness theory, critical discourse analysis, and discursive
I will use it in this book to refer mainly to the linguistic analysis of naturally occurring
connected speech or written discourse. Roughly speaking, it refers to attempts to study the
organization of language above the sentence or above the clause, and therefore to study larger
linguistic units, such as conversational exchanges or written texts. Discourse Analysis is also
concerned with language use in social contexts, and in particular with interaction or dialogue
between speakers. It is not only concerned with complex utterances by one speaker, but more
frequently with the turn-taking interaction between two or more, and with the linguistic rules
and conventions that are taken to be in play and governing such discourses in their given
context. The overall goal of any DA is to explain how language users construct and interpret
meaning in discourse. Brown and Yule (1983) observe that DA examines "how addressers
construct linguistic messages for addressees and how addressees work on linguistic messages
in order to interpret them." From this description of DA, we can gather some important
information about the discipline:
(a) DA studies naturally-occurring connected speech or written discourse
(b) DA studies language above the sentence or clause
(c) DA is concerned with language use in social context
Discourse Analysis: A Historical Overview
Discourse Analysis developed out of different disciplines, such as sociology, anthropology,
psychology, semiotics and linguistics. Prior to its evolution, linguistics was mainly concerned
with the analysis of single sentences. The first scholar to mention the concept was Zellig
Harris, who wrote a paper titled “Discourse Analysis” in 1952. His interest then was on the
distribution of linguistic elements in extended texts and the links between the text and its
social situation (McCarthy, 1991; 5). Although McCarthy’s discussion in the paper is not
exactly what is being done today, he can be credited as the first linguist to use the concept.
The works of sociologists, such as, Dell Hymes, who proposed a study of speech in its social
setting (Hymes, 1964); linguistic philosophers like Austin (1962); Searle (1969) and Grice
(1975) were also influential to the evolution of the discipline of discourse analysis.
The development of discourse analysis was influenced greatly by different scholars
who focused on the study of language as a social phenomenon in Britain and America.
Discourse Analysis in Britain was greatly influenced by Michael Halliday’s functional
approach to language. This approach grew out of the work of John Ruppert Firth, a British
linguist of the late 1940s and 50s. Firth’s major interest was in the cultural background of
language users. He was one of those who attended Bronislaw Malinowski’s seminars at the
University of London in the 1950s. Malinowski was a social anthropologist, who worked
among the Malenesians in Trobriand Islands and observed the ways the Malenesian used
language to socialize by expressing the routines prescribed by their customs and traditions.
Firth later developed Malinowski’s notion of context of situation and built into it his
linguistic theory (Taiwo, 2006). Michael Kirkwood Halliday, who was Firth’s student,
developed his ideas and it later became widely known as the Systemic Functional Linguistics
(SFL) or simply Systemic Linguistics. SFL looks at how language is structured for use as
language users interact in order to make meanings, ie, to make sense of the world of each
other. According to Eggins (2004: 11), ‘the overall purpose of language then is a semantic
one. Each text we participate in is a record of meanings that have been made in particular
In America, earlier studies in discourse analysis were dominated by the
ethnomethodological approach stemming from the works of anthropologists who studied
groups of people communicating in natural settings. The focus was on the rituals they
observe in their cultural and social contexts of communication. Also, within the tradition of
American discourse analysis is conversational analysis, which studies the process of talk in
interaction by observing the behaviour of people when they engage in conversations. These
scholars noted that people observe certain norms and routines, such as turn taking (see
Goffman, 1976, 1979; Sacks, Schegloff & Jeffersons, 1974). In Chapter Two, we shall
examine in details the concerns of the ethnomethodologist and conversational analysts.
Summary: What is Discourse Analysis
Language beyond the level of a sentence
Language behaviours linked to social practices
Language as a system of thought
the linguistic analysis of naturally occurring connected speech or written discourse.
Analysis of discourse looks not only at the basic level of what is said, but takes into
consideration the surrounding social and historical contexts.
Disciplines that contribute to DA
Social Anthropology (the study of all peoples everywhere – what they make, what they do,
what they think and how they organise their social relationships and societies through field
Social Psychology (the study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations,
and behaviour of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups)
Cognitive Psychology (studies mental processes including how people think, perceive,
remember, and learn)
Aspects of Discourse Analysis
Critical Discourse Analysis (The use of discourse analysis techniques to reveal ideological
bias, hidden power relations, sexism, racism, etc. in discourse)
Multimodal Discourse Analysis (how multiple modalities (text, image, sound, video)
combine to make meaning)
Computer-mediated Discourse Analysis (Qualitative and quantitative analysis of discursive
behaviour in online communication, especially, interpersonal interactions)
Areas of Research in Discourse Analysis
 Classroom Discourse Analysis
 Political Discourse Analysis
 Religious Discourse Analysis
 Media Discourse Analysis
 Literary Discourse Analysis
 Legal Discourse Analysis
Discourse Modes
Spoken (Verbal) Discourse
Spoken discourse is any discourse that is verbal. Every language is spoken, so every social
activity we are involved in where speech is used is referred to as spoken discourse. Although
a spoken discourse is essentially verbal, certain non-verbal behaviour helps speakers to
interpret the discourse. Such non-verbal aspects of discourse include facial gestures, body
movements and other sounds uttered that are not necessarily regarded as speech.
Spoken discourse may be in different forms, for instance, face-to-face discourse in which the
speakers are together physically. Another form of spoken discourse is a distance
communication, in which though the speakers are not necessarily together physically, they
are still able to transmit their voice through some other media like: radio, telephone, and so
Spoken discourse, especially a spontaneous and casual one, is typically characterized by the
 Backchannels or minimal responses given while someone else is talking to show that
listeners are listening and understanding, e.g., uhmm, err, emm, yea, uhn uhn,
 Discourse markers, such as well, oh, like, of course, yeah, right, oh, and many more.
The overall function is to show the listener how to interpret what the speaker is
 General Extenders/approximation markers/extension particles: These are phrases
like and stuff, and things, or something or and all that, ... name it, what have you,
etc. They often indicate that the previous word is part of a set, so they extend the
meaning of that word without having to specify all the members of the set. E.g., She
was wearing a red, scarlet dress or something like that; My brother loves movies,
films all that stuff
 The use of body language, gestures to complement speech
 Hesitations
 Self-repair (correction), His dress has a flowery design, sorry, I mean to say floral
Interruptions (a function of power in discourse). Adults, teachers, bosses, etc. have
more rights to interrupt than younger people, students and subordinates because they
have (+ HIGHER) role.
Monologue refers to a speech made by someone who talks for a long time either to himself
or to other people who are not responding. The person may be speaking his or her thoughts
aloud or directly addressing other persons, such as an audience, another person, or a reader.
Monologue is also used in drama to make the audience or readers to know the thought of a
character. This is often referred to as dramatic monologue. However, a dramatic monologue
is also called a soliloquy when it refers to a lengthy talk in which a character, alone on stage,
expresses his or her thoughts aloud.
In a dialogue, there is an exchange of ideas by the participants. Dialogues have some sociocultural characteristics, such as the participants listening while the person who has the floor is
speaking, respect for differences, with the believe that everyone has an essential contribution
to make and is to be honored for the perspective which only they can bring equality of
perspectives, and minimization of interruption as much as possible. A dialogue is not just a
situation in which two or more people are interacting, it is a skillful exchange or interaction
between people with shared understanding based on their cultural practice and shared worldview. For two or more people to be involved in a dialogue successfully, they must be able to
share some sort of understanding about the topic in focus. Another name for dialogue is
Multilogue refers to a situation in which many people are engaged in conversation at the
same time. This kind of discourse is more common in a situation where many interactancts
communicate using the aid computer mediated forms, such as online video, message boards,
forums, chatrooms, and so forth.
Written Discourse
Any discourse in which the thoughts of the producer are represented graphically on a surface,
such as paper and other media can be regarded as a written discourse. Written discourse is
better organized than spoken discourse. Written discourses are characterised by the
 The ideas are put together in sections of the writing called paragraph and each
paragraph can usually be summarized in one sentence, which is generally called the
topic sentence.
 It is also organized in such a way that each of the paragraphs is linked to the ones
before and after. This is called cohesion and coherence
Visual Discourse
Communication in contemporary times is becoming increasingly visual or at best, a
multimodal representation of ideas information and arguments that challenge the primacy of
words and require a broader understanding of the notion of discourse. Discourse is therefore
not always limited to graphic and phonetic symbols. It can also be seen in terms of connected
visual displays. Visual discourse may include a display of still images (such as, photographs
and drawings); moving images (such as, film, television and web-based presentations);
information (such as, charts, graphs and maps). Doing discourse now is therefore not
necessarily limited to looking at the conventional linguistic forms.
Interactional Discourse
Interactional discourse is a kind of discourse that involves two or more people who are
engaged in a continuous exchange of ideas. This exchange could be done with the
participants physically present at a particular location (face-to-face interaction). It could also
be a mediated communication (telephone exchange, computer-mediated interaction). One of
the most well known kinds of interactional discourse is a conversation, which is an exchange
of thoughts, feelings and opinions by spoken words between two or more persons.
Interactional discourse may also be a feature of written or even distance communication, eg,
telephone discourse, letters, communication through electronic media, such as e-mail, mobile
phones, SMS texts and so forth. Interpersonal communication may not necessarily be verbal.
They can also be non-verbal, using movements and body positions, such as kinesics, posture,
gesture, eye gaze, etc.