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Discourse Analysis

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Discourse Analysis

  1. 1. 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.
  2. 2. 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’
  3. 3. 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.
  4. 4. Discourse Analysis is a process in which the reader and listener’s mind is working up on the linguistic features of the utterance to grasp the intended meaning of the writer or speaker. Even if the utterances or sentences are ungrammatical the Discourse Analysis makes us grasp the intended meaning. Example: My natal was in a small town, very close to Riyadh capital of Saudi Arabia. The distance between my town and Riadh 7 miles exactly. The name of this Almasani that means in English factories. It takes its name from the people carrer. In childhood I remember the people live. It was very simple most the people was farmer. The above paragraph is full of grammatical mistakes since by Discourse Analysis of this text we can grasp mostly what are the informations the writer wants to communicate. Discourse concerns with communication so Discourse Analysis gives us the interpretation of the communicated commodity. Devices for Discourse Analysis We use different tools for Discourse Analysis. Some of them are as under: (i)Cohesion Cohesion refers to the ties and connections which exist within texts that link different parts of sentences or larger unit of discourse.
  5. 5. Cohesive Devices (a)Anaphoric Relation Interpretation of text from some previously expressed idea entity. Example: He did that there. Every word has some anaphoric reference with which interpretation could not be made. (b) Cataphoric Relation It means referring forward. It refers the identity what is being expressed and what is to be expressed. Example: Here is the 9, O Clock news. By using these relation and links we can better interpret and analyzed discourse. (2)Coherence The language users try to come to an interpretation in the scenario of knowledge of the world they posses. Coherence is not something which exists in the language but something which exists in people. By using coherence the reader arums semantic unity the paragraph. Example:
  6. 6. Her: That’s the telephone Him: I’ am in the both. Her: Ok. We can interpret the above dialogue with the help of conventional action and by our background knowledge that someone in the bathroom can not attend the telephone. (3) Parallelism Parallelism means side by side. In some piece of literature some comparisons or contrasts go side be side with each other. They also help to interpreter the whole text. Example: In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, good marriages and bad marriages are compared and contrasted on parallel levels. (4) Speech Events Speech events are mainly concerned what people say in different environment e.g. Debate, interview, discussions, quiz etc are different Speech Events. Speakers may have different speech roles as friend, strangers, young or old of equal or unequal status This background knowledge about the personality and environment give a better comprehension for better interpretation of discourse. (5) Background Knowledge Background knowledge can be very much helpful in interpreting any text.
  7. 7. Schema and script are two terms that comprise the background knowledge. Schema and script tells us what is actually the real situation and what are the actions. Schema is conventional knowledge which exists in memory. Script is essentially a dynamic schema in which conventional action takes place. The schema of a supermarket holds the knowledge ‘food displayed on shelves, checkout counters’ etc. While in script such actions are involved as going to movies, eating in a restaurant etc. Example: Trying not to be out of the office Suzy went into the nearest place, sat down and ordered a sandwich. Here in the above example the background knowledge of the situation and the action can be traced out through the schema and script as: Schema tells us: Suzy may be an office girl The nearest place is some restaurant. Script tells us: About the action she performed as: Firstly, she unlocked the door. Secondly, she walked to the nearest restaurant.
  8. 8. Thirdly, she opened the door of the restaurant. etc. Here schema and script tells us what is actually the real situation and what are the actions. (6). Conversational Interaction Conversation is an activity where for the most part thw or more people take turn at speativn: in these tusns at speaking one has to pick up the completion point to take his turn to speak. This is conversational interaction. During the discourse we not only taking part in conversation but we are also analyzing. The discourse simultaneously. So in the conversation turn taking helps us to successfully complete the discourse. (7) The co-operation principle Grice (1975) set Four Maxims which say that in conversational exchanges the participants are in fact co-operating with each other. (i). Maxim of Quantity Make your contribution as informative as is required but not more or less than is required. (ii). Maxim of Quality Don’t say that which you believe to be false or for which you lack evidence. (iii). Maxim of Relation Be relevant (iv). Maxim of Manner
  9. 9. Be clear, brief and orderly. Example: Carol : Are your coming to the party tonight? Lara: I’ve got exam tomorrow. Apparently this exchange have no relevance but by using these Maxims we can analyze the discourse as: 1. Maxim of Quantity:- information is that Lara has exams 2. Maxim of Quality: She is describing a fact of her exams. 3. Maxim of Relation: It is the reason why she could not come to the party 4. Maxim of Manner: A clear cut refusal. The following can be the intended meaning: Tomorrow : Exam To night : Study, Preparation Tonight : No party Intended meaning : Refusal The analysis of the above statement shows the use of maxims of co- cooperation in Discourse Analysis.
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