Linguistic discourse analysis: Introduction and structure
1.1 Defining discourse
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 can not 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 viz 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-centred 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 linguistic system) and force (meaning in relation to situational context). Let's take an example: I love you. Clearly the assigned meaning is different in different situations if the speaker is one's lover or beloved as opposed to one's parent or child. As Chomsky states, 'To understand a sentence we must know more than the analysis of this sentence on each linguistic level. We must also know the reference and meaning of the morphemes or words of which it is composed; naturally, grammar cannot be expected to be of much help here.' (Chomsky 2002:103-04). Widdowson, also criticizes the well familiar definition of discourse analysis that discourse is the study of language patterns above the sentence and states;
If discourse analysis is defined as the study of language patterns above the sentence, this would seem to imply that discourse is sentence writ large: quantitatively different but qualitatively the same phenomenon. It would follow, too, of course, that you cannot have discourse below the sentence. (Widdowson, 2004: 3)
In other words, the discourse information is crucial to a complete theory of language. Smith and Kurthen also argue that 'the existence of arbitrary and language-specific syntactic and referential options for conveying a proposition requires a level of linguistic competence beyond sentential syntax and semantics' (Smith and Kurthen 2007:455). Sentential models of linguistic competence are unequipped to explain the existence of and the difference between multiple sentence forms with the same semantic interpretation. Similarly, Prince argues, 'sentential grammars alone are not capable of constraining the use of definite and indefinite NPs' (Prince 2004:119).
There are several additional reasons for assuming that linguistic competence must be modeled beyond the level of the sentence. First, sentential grammars rely on the artifactual boundaries of written language. In some respects, this is a (short-term) advantage. The boundaries may be too small but they nonetheless provide a well-defined range of linguistic phenomena for a model of language to explain. In fact, this approach has been taken by generative grammarians for years with a great deal of success. However, the long-term disadvantages are also obvious. When one starts with a particular definition of language, any phenomena that do not fit into that definition will generally be ignored. If that definition is too narrow, then crucial data may be lost.
Also, choosing to define language in terms of sentences in particular automatically includes a bias towards the type of language that one has been trained to consider 'proper' as opposed to what one knows through the initial process of first language acquisition. This argument alone takes our views beyond sentential boundaries. Once we accept that a language is not confined to sentence boundaries, we are free to explore broader possibilities.
Second, the phenomenon of language requires at least a limited extension of sentential grammars. For example, sentential grammars can not completely account for the determination of pronoun co-reference, the scope of quantifiers, or the use of discourse deixis. In addition, 'English null arguments provide more evidence that knowledge of a language consists of more than a grammar for producing and interpreting sentences' (Tracy 1995:215). It is obvious that null subjects play an active role in conversational English, though they have received little attention in the past due to their rarity in written or 'formal' English. It is also clear that the presence of implicit null objects in English may not be distinguishable from truly intransitive constructions without an examination of extra-sentential information.
While defining discourse, three definitions have been discussed – one derived from formalist paradigm, other from functionalist paradigm and third that includes both formalist and functionalist paradigms. Discourse analysis also deals with these paradigms. Formalist or structural analysis of discourse describes '… discourse at several levels or dimensions of analysis and in terms of many different units, categories, schematic patterns or relations' (Dijk 1985:4). Structural analyses focus on the way different units function in relation to each other but they disregard 'the functional relations with the context of which discourse is a part' [Dijk 1985:4]. Structurally based analysis of discourse find 'constituents' (smaller linguistic units that have particular 'relationship' with one another and that can occur in a restricted number of (often ruled-governed) 'arrangements'. Structural views of discourse analysis accept that discourse is comprised of 'units.' Harris's unit was the morpheme (and their combination into sentences) while Linde, Labov and many other linguists identified clause as unit. Many contemporary structural analysis of discourse view the sentence as the unit of which discourse is comprised.
The structural view of discourse analysis places discourse in a hierarchy of language structures, thus fostering the view that one can describe language in a unitary way that continues unimpeded from morpheme to clause to sentence to discourse. But this kind of analysis does not pay attention to the purposes and functions for which so called 'units' are designed to serve in human affairs.
Discourse analysis is necessarily the analysis of language in use. The functionalist view of discourse analysis asserts that 'the study of discourse is the study of any aspect of language use' (Fasold 1990:65). Discourse analysis can not be restricted to the description of linguistic forms independent of the purposes and functions which these forms perform. Functional analyses of discourse rely less upon the strictly grammatical characteristics of utterances as sentences, than upon the way utterances are situated in contexts.
1.3 Historical view of discourse analysis
Discourse analysis deals language in use: written text of all kinds and spoken data. It received attention in different disciplines in the 1960s and early 1970s, including linguistics, semiotics, anthropology, psychology and sociology. At a time when linguistics was largely concerned with the analysis of single sentences, Zelling Harris published a paper with the title 'Discourse analysis' in 1952. Harris was interested in the distribution of linguistic elements in extended texts, and the links between the text and its social situation. Also important in the early years was the emergence of semiotics and the French structuralist approach to the study of narrative. In the 1960s, Dell Hymes provided a sociological perspective with the study of speech in its social setting. The linguistic philosophers such as Austin (1962), Searle (1969) and Grice (1975) were also influential in the study of language as social action, reflected in speech-act theory and the formulation of conversational maxims, alongside the emergence of pragmatics which is the study of meaning in context.
British discourse analysis was greatly influenced by M. A. K. Halliday's functional approach to language, which in turn has connexions with the Prague School of linguists. Halliday's framework emphasizes the social functions of language and the thematic and informational structure of speech and writing. Also important in Britain were Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) at the University of Birmingham, who developed a model for the description of teacher pupil talk, based on a hierarchy of discourse units. Other similar work has dealt with doctor-patient interaction, service encounters, interviews, debates and business negotiations, as well as monologues. Novel work in the British tradition has also been done on intonation in discourse. The British work has principally followed structural-linguistic criteria, on the basis of the isolation of units, and sets of rules defining well-formed sequences of discourse.
American discourse analysis has been dominated by work within the ethnomethodological tradition, which emphasizes the research method of close observation of groups of people communicating in natural settings. It examines types of speech event such as storytelling, greeting rituals and verbal duels in different cultural and social settings. What is often called conversation analysis within the American tradition can also be included under the general heading of discourse analysis. In conversational analysis, the emphasis is not upon building structural models but on the close observation of the behaviour of participants in talk and on patterns which recur over a wide range of natural data. The work of Goffman (1976; 1979), and Sacks Schegloff and Jefferson (1974) is important in the study of conversational norms, turn-taking, and other aspects of spoken interaction. Alongside the conversation analysts, working within the sociolinguistic tradition, Labov's investigations of oral storytelling have also contributed to a long history of interest in narrative discourse. The American work has produced a large number of descriptions of discourse types as well as insights into the social constraints of politeness and face-preserving phenomena in talk, overlapping with British work in pragmatics.
Also relevant to the development of discourse analysis as a whole is the work of text grammarians, working mostly with written language. Text grammarians see texts as language elements strung together in relationships with one another that can be defined. Linguists such as Van Dijk (1972), De Beaugrande (1980), Halliday and Hasan (1976) have made a significant impact in this area. The Prague School of linguists, with their interest in the structuring of information in discourse, has also been influential. Its most important contribution has been to show the links between grammar and discourse.
1.4 The scope of discourse analysis
Discourse analysis has grown into a wide-ranging and heterogeneous discipline which finds its unity in the description of language above as well as below the sentence and an interest in the contexts and cultural influences which affect language in use. For example A asks; 'why are you weeping?' B replies; 'shocked.' The reply of B is not a sentence according to the standard sentence pattern but the meaning is clear and it is context that leaves no doubt in the mind of A about the cause and effect of B's being shocked thus discourse is the creation and organization of 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. It is not only concerned with the description and analysis of spoken interaction but it deals with written discourse. People daily encounter hundreds of written and printed words: newspapers, recipes, stories, letters, comics, notices, instructions, leaflets pushed through the door, and so on. They usually expect them to be coherent, meaningful communications in which the words and/or sentences are linked to one another in a fashion that corresponds to conventional formulae, just they we do with speech.
Discourse analysis has received ever-increasing attention from different disciplines. It includes taxonomy, speech act theory, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnographies of communication, pragmatics, conversation analysis, and variationist discourse analysis (one could also add critical discourse analysis, narrative analysis, discursive psychology, and more) and ranges from philosophy to linguistics to semiotics to sociology to anthropology, and so on. Such a wide range of its fields indicates that the notion of discourse is itself quite broad. This may also suggest why discourse analysis has emerged as a special interest in the past few decades—the fact that diverse fields find the study of discourse useful indicates larger cultural and epistemological shifts.
1.5 Sentence and utterance
Although there might appear little difference in the kind of information which is presented in these alternative formulations, there is considerable difference in the purpose for which these formulations are made. A sentence is an exemplificatory device and that its function is simply to give concrete realization to the abstract features of the system of language. Sentences are an exemplification of linguistic rules while utterances are a direct realization of linguistic rules.
It is an important point to make clear the relationship between them: utterances being 'derived' from sentences, or sentences 'underlying' utterances. Sentences are simply construct devised by linguists to exemplify the rules of the language system and that a speaker therefore may have no knowledge of the sentences as such at all. An illiterate speaker has an innate knowledge of the rules of the language system acquired through his natural linguistic development and he composes his utterances by direct reference to them and not by reference to sentences. One might say that sentences exemplify the rules which the speaker realizes in the making of utterances. The knowledge one has of one's language can be expressed in the form of sentences since a grammar is defined as a description of the sentences of language. What the speaker of a language knows is sentences. This comes out clearly when Chomsky speaks of language acquisition; 'Clearly, a child who has learned a language has developed an internal representation of a system of rules that determine how sentences are formed, used, and understood.' (Chomsky 1965:25)
1.6 Cohesion and coherence
A piece of discourse must have a certain structure which depends on factors quite different from those required in the structure of a single sentence. The way sentences link up with each other to form discourse is cohesion. Cohesion makes the items hang together. Cohesion comes about as a result of the combination of both lexical and grammatical structures. It should be considered in terms of the two basic dimensions of linguistic organization – paradigmatic and syntagmatic. In this way it is meaningful to extend the principles of linguistic description beyond the limit of the sentence. One can study the structure of discourse paradigmatically by tracing the manner in which the constituent linguistic elements are related along the axis of equivalence, or one can study it syntagmatically by tracing the manner in which the linguistic elements are related along the axis of combination. By taking the former, one recognizes pronouns and other pro-forms as cohesive devises, and by taking the latter, it is such forms as sentence connectors and the thematic arrangements of sentence constituents which emerge the principal features of cohesion.
Cohesion through combination and cohesion through equivalence are discussed by Halliday as cohesion through grammar and cohesion through lexis. In grammatical scheme, he talks about subordination, co-ordination, pronouns etc. and in lexical scheme, he deals with repetition or occurrence of item in the same lexical set.
Analysis of cohesive links within a discourse gives one some insight into how writers structure what they want to say. Many devices are used to create cohesion such as recurrence, use of pro-forms, connectors, thematic arrangements etc.
Connections between other words and sentences, which is the field of cohesion, would not be sufficient to enable one to make sense of what we read and hear. It is quite easy to create a highly cohesive piece of discourse which has a lot of connections between the sentences, but which remain difficult to interpret. It is people who make sense of what they read and hear. They try to arrive at on interpretation which is in line with their experience of the way the world is. So, the 'connectedness' which people experience in their interpretation of what is being heard or read is coherence.
Cohesion is connectivity of the surface, whereas coherence deals with connectivity of underlying content. Coherence, in other words, is related to the mutual accessibility and relevance of concepts and relations that underlie the surface level. A reader or listener would have to create meaningful connections which are not always expressed by the words and sentences, taking into account the surface phenomena.
People often take part in conversational interactions where a great deal of what is meant is not actually present in what is said and they ordinarily anticipate each other's intentions, which makes this whole complex process easy going. The following example given by Widdowson can be taken into account:
Her: That's the telephone.
Him: I'm in the both.
Here one finds no cohesive ties within this fragment of discourse. It is due to coherence that each of these people manages to make sense of what the other says. This brief conversation can be understood in the following way:
She requested him to perform action.
He gives reason why he is unable to comply with request.
She undertakes to perform action.
It is possible to produce language which is cohesive without being coherent as discourse and vice-versa. This is not to say that there is no correspondence between them: very often, and particularly in written discourse, there might be a very close correspondence between cohesion and coherence. But they remain two different aspects of linguistic organization: cohesion is the link between sentences, and coherence the link between the communicative acts which the sentence perform.
1.7 Theme and rheme
'Theme', if one takes it as a formally constrained category, has to do with the left-most constituent in the sentence or clause and 'rheme' with everything that follows theme. Each simple sentence has a theme 'the starting point of the utterance' and a rheme, everything else that follows in the sentence which consists of 'what the speaker states about, or in regard to, the starting point of the utterance' (Mathesius 1992: 28). The theme, then, is what speakers or writers use as a 'point of departure' (Webster, 2005:195) Concentrating on the themes (or topics) of sentences does not tell someone much about the rest of the sentence, which is called the rheme (or comment) of the sentence. In fact, when someone looks at the themes and rhemes together in connected discourse, they see further patterns emerging. To make the theme marked, a speaker or writer uses fronting device. For example:
John calls it relaxation. (Unmarked theme)
Relaxation, John calls it. (Marked theme)
'The more marked the construction, the more likely an implicated meaning will be that which the utterance is intended to convey' (Davidson 1980:46). One may talk in general of thematisation as a discoursal rather than simply a sentential process. What the speaker or writer puts first will influence the interpretation of everything that follows. The first sentence of the first paragraph will constrain the interpretation not only of the paragraph, but also of the rest of the discourse. The notion of 'relative prominence' arising from process of thematisation plays a vital role in discourse structure because the way a piece of discourse is staged, must have significant effect both on the process of interpretation and on the process of subsequent recall.
1.8 Discourse and mode
When one views manifestations of discourse, one immediately finds that the term discourse applies to both spoken and written language. The mode of discourse is related to the distinction between speech and writing. Mode 'has to do with the effects of the medium in which the language is transmitted' (Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad 1993:9). It is distinction between the auditory and visual medium.
Although written discourse is no worse than spoken discourse, yet the latter is always considered much more important and much emphasis is laid on it. 'Some linguists go so far as to say that speech is language, and that writing is simply a reflection of speech in a different medium' (Allen and Pit Corder 1980:26). Others can give less importance to speech, but most linguists accept the fact that speech is the primary medium as it is older and more widespread than writing, and a child always learns to speak before s/he learns to write.
Spoken discourse is a vast phenomenon, and all can not be anticipated in hard statistical terms of the distribution of different types of speech in people's everyday lives. If one lists at random a number of different types of speech and consider how much of each day or week people spend engaged in each one, one can only roughly guess at some sort of frequency ranking, other than to say that casual conversation is almost certainly the most frequent for most people.
1.8.1 Some types of spoken discourse
It is not an easy job to predict all types of spoken discourse because a person encounters different types of speech even within a single day. Conversations vary in their settings and degree of structuredness. Some types of speech are as follows:
Telephone calls (Business and private)
Classroom (Classes, lectures, tutorials, seminars)
Interviews (Jobs, journalistic, in official settings)
Service encounters (Hotels, ticket offices, shops, etc.)
Rituals (Prayers, sermons, weddings)
Language-in-action (Talk accompanying doing: fixing, cooking, demonstrating, assembling, etc.)
Monologues (Strangers, relatives, friends)
Organizing and directing people (Work, home, in the street)
One should look closely at the forms and patterns of different types of spoken discourse. Different roles and settings generate different forms and structures, and discourse analysts try to observe in natural data just what patterns occur in particular settings.
1.8.2 Some types of written discourse
Everyday people come into contact with written texts and interpret their meanings so as to get what they intend. We can never think of a literate man who never writes or tries to write something. Like spoken discourse, written discourse is also of many kinds as:
Letter to/from friend
It is certain that most people will read more of the text types mentioned above than actually write them. Both spoken and written discourse perform different functions in society, use different forms, and exhibit different linguistic characteristics.
1.8.3 Functions of written spoken discourse
Spoken and written discourse make somewhat different demands related to functions that they perform. Writing has the advantage of relative permanence, which allows for record-keeping (storage function) in a form independent of the memories of those who keep the records. Written discourse can communicate over a great distance (by letters, newspapers, etc.), and to large numbers simultaneously (by publications of all kinds). The invention of the tape-recorder, the telephone, the radio and television have helped to overcome the limitations of the spoken language regarding time, distance and numbers.
Written discourse is not only permanent but also visible. An important consequence of this is that the writer may look over what he has already written, pause between each word with no fear of his interlocutor interrupting him. He may take his time in choosing a particular word, even looking it up in the dictionary if necessary. Written language makes possible the creation of literary works of art in ways comparable with the creation of paintings or sculpture.
Speech, of course, retains functions which writing will never be able to fulfil, such as quick, direct communication with immediate feedback from the addressee. The speaker must monitor what it is that he has just said, and determine whether it matches his intentions, while he is uttering his current phrase and monitoring that, and simultaneously planning his next utterance and fitting that into the overall pattern of what he wants to say and monitoring, moreover, not only his own performance but its reception by his hearer.
The view that written discourse and spoken discourse serve, in general, quite different functions in society has been forcefully propounded by scholars whose main interest lies in anthropology and sociology. Goody suggests that analytic thinking followed the acquisition of written language 'since it was the setting down of speech that enabled man clearly to separate words, to manipulate their order and to develop syllogistic forms of reasoning' (Goody 1977:11). But we can not deny the fact that speech is an everyday activity for almost everyone, whereas written discourse may not be. Nor can we state that spoken and written discourse are not complementary in function and one is more important than the other.
1.8.4 The form of spoken and written discourse
As well as being different in function, spoken and written discourse differ in forms as a result of the difference of medium. Features of spoken discourse such as rhythm, intonation and non-linguistic noises such as sighs and laughter are absent in written discourse. Spoken discourse can also be accompanied by non-verbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions because speech is typically used in a face-to-face situation. These features can not easily be conveyed by written discourse. Written discourse also has several features which spoken discourse lacks. We can include punctuation, paragraphing and the capitalization of letters. In written discourse, intonation can to some extent be conveyed by punctuation, but not completely. The intonation of the sentence 'I'll buy a shirt for you from High Street' will differ according to whether the action or object or person or place is the most important idea. The different meanings, thus, implied by differences of intonation would be difficult to convey in written discourse without changing the structure of the sentence.
1.8.5 Linguistic characteristics of spoken and written discourse
There are different linguistic characteristics of both of these discourses. Just as the differences of the function and forms of spoken and written discourse overlap one another in the same way the characteristics of these two discourses, as will be discussed, have actually some overlap between the two.
188.8.131.52 Normal non-fluency
Spoken discourse is generally characterized by normal non-fluency. Normal non-fluency refers to unintended repetitions (e.g. I. I …), fillers (e.g. um, er), false starts, grammatical blends and unfinished sentences. One finds false start 'where a sentence is broken off midway as a result of a change of mind' (Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad 1993:139); for example, 'You should – well tackle it yourself.' When one begins in one way and ends in another, one tends to blend; for example in 'Do you know where is my office?' here the sentence begins as an indirect question but ends as a direct question. In spoken discourse, people face the phenomena of hesitation that lead to non-fluency. Spoken discourse contains many incomplete sentences, often simply sequences of phrases. Written discourse, on the other hand, does not, naturally, face such phenomena and as a result it appears more fluent.
184.108.40.206 Monitoring and interaction features
These features are found in spoken discourse because of its use in dialogue, with a physically present addressee. Monitoring features 'indicate the speaker's awareness of the addressee's presence and reactions' (Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad 1993:139). In monitoring, one uses such adverbs and adverbials as 'well', 'I think', 'I mean', 'you know', 'you see', 'sort of'. Interaction features call the active participation of the addressee. Interaction features include second person pronoun, questions, imperatives etc. Written discourse if it is not in dialogue form, generally, lacks these features.
In speech, people have both the auditory and visual media available, as speech is generally used in face-to-face situations. In spoken discourse, one encounters inexplicitness because of many facts such as shared knowledge of the participants, which makes explicitness unnecessary; extra information is conveyed by 'body language' (e.g. gestures, facial expressions); the immediate and intended physical environment can be referred to (e.g. by pointing to people or objects); and one has advantage of feedback from the hearer so as to make intended message clear. Pronouns such as this, that, it, are used frequently in speech, which leads to inexplicitness. In written discourse, a writer does not have the advantage of the addressee's presence, so he must be much more explicit in his process. Avoiding the above mentioned inexplicitness, written discourse also acquires explicitness with the help of clear sentence boundaries but in speech sentences may be unfinished, because the knowledge of the addressee makes completion unnecessary.
220.127.116.11 Simplicity of structure
Simplicity and complexity of structures are marked by the subordination of clauses and noun and adjectival phrases. How many elements the clauses or phrases contain or how many levels of subordination there are tend to mark simplicity or complexity. In written discourse, rather heavily pre-modified noun phrases are quite common – it is rare in spoken discourse. Nesting and embedding of clauses is much more found in written discourse. Spoken discourse is less complex than written because of the short time available to produce and process it. Written discourse, on the other hand, can be re-drafted and re-read.
Since spoken discourse is less permanent, it requires more repetition than written discourse. In spoken discourse, the addressee can not easily refer back to what has gone before, so important information has to be repeated. This can be noticed, for example, in normal conversation.
The category of mode with reference to spoken and written discourse, as has been discussed, has peculiar linguistic characteristics, but there can be some overlap in these characteristics, depending on what they are used for, and in what situation.
1.9 Discourse and tenor
Discourse varies, as has been viewed, according to whether it is spoken or written, now discussions will be about how it varies according to factors such as who it is for, in what situation, and what kind of activity the language is being used for. Tenor 'has to do with the relationship between a speaker and the addressee(s) in a given situation, and is often characterized by greater or lesser formality' (Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad 1993:9). Tenor can be formal or informal, polite or familiar and impersonal or personal. If the relationship between the speaker and addressee is official and distant, for example in a legal document, the tenor will be formal, and if it is close and intimate, for example a conversation between friends, the tenor will be informal. A formal discourse will have complex sentences and polysyllabic vocabulary while in an informal discourse there will be simple sentences and monosyllabic vocabulary.
The tenor of discourse will be polite if the speaker and addressee are not well known to one another, whereas it will be familiar if the speaker and the addressee are well known and intimate to one another. Politeness is of more relevance when the addressee are physically present, or when the function of the discourse is to have an effect on the addressee, as in advertising. To create politeness, one uses respectful terms of address, e.g. sir, indirect requests, e.g. would you mind…, would you be so kind as to…, etc. We use intimate terms of addressee, e.g. my love, Mary, direct imperatives, e.g. close the door, Give me…, etc. to make discourse familiar.
There will be impersonality if the roles of the speaker and addressee are in the background, as in written documents with no specific author or addressee, or in news broadcasts wherein neither the role of the speaker nor that of addressee is prominent. Passivisation, third person noun phrases, e.g. passengers, the reader etc. create impersonality, whereas first and second person pronouns, e.g. I, you etc. deal with personal tenor.
1.10 Discourse and domain
Domain 'has to do with how language varies according to the activity in which it plays a part' (Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad 1993:9). Discourse varies according to the field in which it functions. The discourse of journalism is not the same as that of religion or law. Functions of language are different according to different field or activity, which leads to construct different discourse.
One may be a lawyer advising a client, a bus conductor collecting fares, on engineer giving instructions to a draughtsman, a trade-union official discussing fringe benefits, a sergeant instructing a soldier or a scientist reading a technical report. One may be playing different games. Or relating to his/her home life, one may be acting as father, mother, son, daughter, husband or wife. When one notices these activities, one will find discourses that are typical of the activity involved.
Discourse can 'convey information, express feelings and persuade someone to do something' (Thornton 2008:17), wherein we have referential, expressive and conative functions of discourse respectively. Discourse has many domains such as advertising, journalism, law, religion, literature, politics, conversation etc., each having different characteristics which determine peculiarities of discourse. If advertisements, for example, are to achieve their purpose, which is to sell a product, they have to be easy to read. The sentence structure must be simple with less subordination. Advertising language is typically very informal and personal and in the form of direct address. Advertising discourse shows some of the characteristics which we associate with spoken discourse, even when it occurs in written form (e.g. in press advertisements).
The present article has dealt with some of the ingredients which are required to construct an account of how people use language to communicate with each other. It is people who communicate and people who interpret. It is speakers or writers who have presuppositions and who make reference. One thinks of none but hearers or readers who interpret and draw inferences. This view is opposed to the study of these issues in terms of sentences considered in isolation from communicative contexts. In appealing to this approach, the present study has taken a compromise position which suggests that discourse analysis on the one hand includes the study of linguistic forms and the regularities of their distribution and, on the other hand, involves a consideration of the general notions of interpretation by which people normally make sense of what they hear and read.
Discourse analysis is a multi-disciplinary approach. It includes many disciplines such as sociology, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology etc. These different disciplines tend to concentrate on different aspects of discourse. How discourse analysis is concerned with the structure of social interaction manifested in conversation has been discussed in this study. Discourse plays different roles in different social contexts. It may have different meaning and relevance when it occurs in different situations. There can also be predictions of who will open, who will interrupt and who will close the discourse because of the shared and established conventions of situations. But where talk is more casual, and among equals, everyone will have a part to play is controlling and monitoring the discourse, and the phenomenon of discourse will look considerably more complicated.
Discourse analysis does not put emphasis on sentences in isolation but tends to concentrate on linked utterances. It is cohesive combination of utterances which makes meaning and appeals to a reader or hearer. To create isolated sentences is of no importance but the creation of links across utterances is much more important in discourse. Reading of written discourse or hearing of spoken discourse is both more important and complex than the knowledge of linguistic forms because a reader or listener has to interpret ties and make sense of them. Making sense of a piece of discourse is an act of interpretation that depends as much on what people as readers/listeners bring to that piece of discourse as what the author/speaker puts into it. How people make sense of and comprehend discourse has also been taken into account in this study. One has to be concerned with semantic relationships between constructed pairs of sentences and with their syntactic realization in order to deal successfully with discourse analysis.
The present article has also attempted to show how discourse analysis has contributed to the understanding of the relationship between choices within the sentence and the organization and interpretation of the discourse as a whole. Discourse analysis helps not only a speaker/writer to select right choices of words, syntax and utterances according to particular situations but it supports also a hearer/reader to interpret and infer the right meaning of discourse. It provides access to what a speaker/author intends, or how sincerely he is behaving in the production of a discourse fragment.
Discourse constitutes ubiquitous ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world. It is used in everyday local texts and talks for building productive power and knowledge and for purposes of regulation and normalization, for the development of new knowledge and power relations. Only to know what discourse is is not sufficient but one must also know how it is produced and understood. This consideration has been dealt in the present dissertation.
Discourse analysis has presented a fundamentally different way of looking at language compared with sentence-dominated models, one in which the traditional elements of grammar, lexis and phonology still have a fundamental part to play, but one which is bigger and more immediately relevant. There will, no doubt, be many other things that will need to be said about discourse analysis, for discourse analysis is a fast moving discipline, and people's knowledge of how language occurs in its natural contexts is growing all the time. What is more, one now knows more about what people actually do with language when they speak and write, and no longer has to rely on classical – based notions of what 'good' usage is. People know more about the delicate relationship between language forms and particular contexts and users; such knowledge can only be immensely valuable.
The application of discourse analysis to educational research will require nothing less than the development of a new sociology of educational discourse. Discourse analysis enables one to model how language and discourse figure in the production and reproduction of educational outcomes. It enables the teachers to make up their own minds as to whether their methods and techniques need rethinking in the light of what discourse analysts say. It marks out the grounds for rethinking pedagogical practices and outcomes as discourse.
The assumption underlying many modern curriculum development and instructional models is that the purpose of education is to produce behaviours, skills and competences required for industrial-era work places and civic spheres. Shifting population, new social geographies, new communities having the phenomenon of multiculturalism and new information technologies are altering social relations and how discourse is learned and used. The conditions have changed and are also changing, which provides the people with hybrid written and spoken discourse.
To cope with the prevailing conditions which have the tendency of intercultural and interlingual communications, the people are in the dying need of the support of discourse analysis. Mastery of discourse is the principle educational process and outcome, and this mastery can be reshaped by introducing learners to a new phenomenon of discourse. Above all, the analysis of discourse, undertaken in the manner presented in this dissertation, will not only provide the reader with insights into the workings of his own language, but also encourage him to think afresh about the nature of that complex cognitive and social phenomenon we call 'discourse'.
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