Discourse Analysis

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  • Topic: Linguistics, Pragmatics, Paul Grice
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discourse analysis
Discourse Analysis

A discourse is behavioral unit. It is a set of utterances which constitute a recognizable speech event e.g. a conversation, a joke, a sermon, an interview etc. In its historical and etymological perspective the term is used in different perspectives e.g. Verbal communication.

All this fine talk.
Direct / indirect speech.
To chat.
In order to narrow down the range of possible meanings, the modern linguists have given different views or definitions. Example:
Discourse is written as well as spoken: every utterance assuming the a speaker and a hearer as discourse. (Benvenisle, 1971: 208-9)

An individualizable group of statements and sometimes as a regulated practice that counts for a number of statements. (Foucault, 1972: 80)

The specification with the term is that ‘discourse must be used with its social purpose’ this is the main specification of discourse. The brief difference between discourse and text, I think, will facilitate to better understand the term Discourse.

Difference between Discourse and Text

Discourse Analysis focuses on the structure of naturally spoken language as found in conversation interviews, commentaries and speeches.

Text analysis focuses on the structure of written language, as found in such text as essays, notices, road signs and chapters. (Crystal. 1987)

Some scholars talk about ‘spoken or written discourse’ other about ‘spoken or written text’ (Crystal. 1987)

It means discourse and text can be used almost synonymously. But a distinction is always there and that in discourse has some social purpose while text fulfills the function of communication of some meaning only. As suggested by Michel Stubbs (1983) who treats text and discourse as more or less synonymous.

Hawthorn (1992) says text may be non-interactive where as a discourse is interactive. Means to say text is non-interactive that’s it only fulfils the function of conveying some meaning. But discourse is always involved in two ways responses in some formal or informal conversation and dialogues etc.

Hawthorn (1992) further says ‘discourse is a linguistic communication seen as a transaction between speaker and hearer. While text is also a linguistics communication (either spoken or written) seen simply as a message coded in its auditory or visual medium’

To conclude we can say discourse and text have something in common as both use the medium of language whether in sign language. Both have some meaning that they try to convey.
But text has a limited scope as compare with discourse. In other words we can say discourse is somewhat broad category in the system of language. And text deals with the written from of language. Discourse has different form as Discourse of Advertising, Discourse of Racism, Discourse of Medical etc. But text has no such forms. Discourse can be found with in text. And not vice versa. Text has its maximum interpretation in its ownself but discourse has a lot of things above the language level.

Discourse analysis

Discourse analysis is an attempt to discover linguistic regularities in discourse using grammatical, phonological and semantic criteria e.g. cohesion, anaphora, inter sentence connectivity etc. It is an effort to interpreter what the writer or speaker intended to convey with in a sensitive social context. Example:

Father:Is that your coat on the floor again?

Son: yes (goes on reading)
Here in the above example Discourse Analysis says that the answer of the son is not clear one. It shows the exploitation of ambiguity about father’s command to pick up his coat. Rather the son deals his father’s command as a simple content question which can be answered in yes /no.

Discourse Analysis is a process in which the reader and listener’s mind is working up on the linguistic features of...
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