Linguistic discourse analysis
Discourse is the creation and organization of the segments of a language above as well as below the sentence. It is segments of language which may be bigger or smaller than a single sentence but the adduced meaning is always beyond the sentence. The term discourse applies to both spoken and written language, in fact to any sample of language used for any purpose. Any series of speech events or any combination of sentences in written form wherein successive sentences or utterances hang together is discourse. Discourse cannot be confined to sentential boundaries. It is something that goes beyond the limits of sentence. In another words discourse is ‘any coherent succession of sentences, spoken or written’ (Matthews, 2005:100). The links between sentences in connected discourse are as much important as the links between clauses in a sentence. Two paradigms in linguistics via formalist paradigm and functionalist paradigm make different background assumptions about the goals of a linguistic theory, the methods for studying language, and the nature of data and empirical evidence. These differences in paradigm also influence definitions of discourse. A definition as derived from formalist assumptions is that discourse is ‘language above the sentence or above the clause’ (Stubbs 1983:1). Another definition derived from the functionalist paradigm views discourse as ‘language use.’ This definition observes the relationship the discourse has with the context. A third definition of discourse attempts to bridge the formalist-functionalist dichotomy. The relationship between form (structure) and function is an important issue in discourse. 1.2 Defining discourse analysis
The study of naturally occurring connected sentences, spoken or written, is one of the most promising and rapidly developing areas of modern linguistics. Traditional linguistics has concentrated on sentence-centered analysis. Now, linguists are much more concerned with the way language is ‘used’ than what its components are. One may ask how it is that language-users interpret what other language-users intend to convey. When is carried this investigation further and asked how it is that people, as language-users, make sense of what they read in texts, understand what speakers mean despite what they say, recognize connected as opposed to jumbled or incoherent discourse, and successfully take part in that complex activity called conversation, then one is undertaking what is known as discourse analysis. The first linguist to refer to discourse analysis was Zellig Harris. In 1952, he investigated the connectedness of sentences, naming his study ‘discourse analysis.’ Harris claimed explicitly that discourse is the next level in a hierarchy of morphemes, clauses and sentences. He viewed discourse analysis procedurally as a formal methodology, derived from structural methods of linguistic analysis: such a methodology could break a text down into relationships (such as equivalence, substitution) among its lower-level constituents. Structural was so central to Harris’s view of discourse that he also argued that what opposes discourse to a random sequence of sentences is precisely the fact that it has structure: a pattern by which segments of the discourse occur (and recur) relative to each other. Michael Stubbs says, ‘Any study which is not dealing with (a) single sentences, (b) contrived by the linguist, (c) out of context, may be called discourse analysis.’ (Stubbs 1983:131). In other words, there is a shift of focus from sentences in isolation to utterances in context: to study language in use is to study it as discourse. This is a fact that ‘knowledge of a language is more than knowledge of individual sentences.’ (Leech 2008:76) The true meaning of a sentence can’t be assigned by its only linguistic construction but it largely depends on reference (meaning in relation to exterior world), sense (meaning in relation to...
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