Discourse analysis


In the broad field of linguistics, discourse analysis (DA) is often concerned with the way people communicate in different social contexts. Therefore, DA examines aspects of speech units as they occur in real time enabled by methods and theories that reveal coherence and meaning. Consequently, the methodologies operate through the help of schema theory, pragmatics, semiotics, multimodal analysis, and ethnography among others. The purpose of the essay, hence, will be to analyze a piece of “discourse” from either a book or newspaper. On the same account, the article will investigate the evidence and role of genre and register in their identified text. Studying the manner in which coherence and cohesion are achieved in the text is also significant with emphasis on aspects of DA notably cataphora, repetition, lexical chains, conjunction, parallelism, and verb forms among others. Additionally, the essay is interested in in language learners with a difficult grasp of English because of their Arab extraction and the role of a teacher of English in making such corrections.

Below is an example of a written text from a book that is written to be read, and which has interesting features of DA as will be demonstrated:

“Second, the notion “grammatical” cannot be identified with “meaningful” or “signficant” in any semantic sense. Sentences (1) and (2) are equally nonsensical, but any speaker of English will recognize that only the former is grammatical.

  1. Colorless green ideas sleep furiouslt.
  2. Furiously sleep ideas green colorless. Similarly, there is no semantic reason to prefer (3) to (5) or (4) to (6), but only (3) and (4) are grammatical sentences of English.
  3. have you a book on modern music?
  4. the book seems interesting.
  5. read you a book on modern music?
  6. the child seems sleeping.

Such examples suggest that any search for a semantically based definition of “grammaticalness” will be futile. We shall see, in fact, in 7, that there are deep structural reasons for distinguishing (3) and (4) from (5) and (6); but before we are able to find an explanation for such facts as these we shall have to carry the theory of syntactic strcuture a good deal beyond its familiar limits.”

The above discourse has distinct usage of language in line with the processes that ideally define DA. For instance, it can be classified as informal discourse since in terms of its unique grammar, lexical items, and structural features. This is within the illocution framework of speech contributing to invitation and inquiry as exemplified by the aforementioned informal social discourse. Similarly, the notion of adjacency pairs is another interesting perspective worthy of note in making any meaningful analysis. It is because expressions classified as both fixed and semi-fixed ensure that extra-linguistic functions of conversations find a platform of achieving meaning (Baker 2006, pp. 256). These features include values and norms that usually have a huge role in speech exchanges from a sociocultural context. Contrastingly, the context between fluency and accuracy in the influencing the above content is an interesting bit since the sentences and words are expressed clearly only that they are recorded informally. It demonstrates that in the conversation analysis, the product becomes a consequence of the responsibilities of both participants. Close scrutiny reveals the patterns that define social life when communication is viewed as part of posited structures of culture and the existing society. On the above account, the visible register encompasses the grammatical and lexical options such as informal speech acts that assist the two speakers. Genre, however, is the structure that offers the speech acts a communicative platform.

Verb forms include the past form, base form and form that ends with an –ed that is called the participle. Therefore, from the above selected text, numerous examples abound. For instance, the words “identified” and “based” contribute toward cohesion of the DA  context. It means cohesion and formal links continue to play vital role in comprehending the nature of lexical characteristics in instances where repetitions exist as observed with the sample data.

The use of parallelism is equally prevalent. Parallelism is a figure of speech that concerns itself with the grammatical structure of a sentence by giving it order. In DA, it ensures that words come out perfect and orderly as observed by this example: “no semantic reason to prefer (3) to (5) or (4) to (6), but only (3) and (4).” The emphasis on the (3) and (4) creates the essence of parallesim in the above example.

Interestingly, there is a lot of repetition in the selected text. Repetition involves repetition of words and phrases to create emphasis. They include: “(3) to (5) or (4) to (6), but only (3) and (4) are grammatical sentences of English.” In that instance, (3) is repeated in the text for stress.

Substitition as a replace of phrase or word in the identified text is manifested in form of the example, “such facts” to refer to sentences with a certain element of grammaticalness. Both contribute toward the overall cohesion of that text.

Consequently, cohesion occurs when a linkage happens within a sentence or text either through lexical or grammatical linking. It is a phenomenon more nuanced by verb-based phrases that contain less abstract words at the expense of numerous contractions. These lexical chains have similarities with parallelism and substitution in the context of continuity of speech act. Structural arrangement of words is equally important because the richness forms coherence while considering the fragmented aspects of written texts as one selected. Therefore, the written variant as explained by scholars in the field notably M.A.K. Halliday, the resultant equivalent always has both the transactional and interactional effect evident in conversations. Conversely, the notion of routines as a conventional way of assessing the impact of conversational coherence is a step toward expanding negotiation skills when communication challenges arise as witnessed in the selected discourse above (Barton, Hamilton and Ivanic 2009, pp. 166).

Language learners with challenges in comprehending the English language as demonstrated by the Arab students require the knowledge of a certain discourse. However, they must first be inducted into the communicative acts of the foreign language they wish to learn by their instructors. For example, in the given of context Arab students in a university’s Preparatory Year program, the minimal exposure to the English language signals a need to embrace ethnography as an area of DA. Linguistic ethnography is largely concerned with the essence of understanding the underlying perspectives of participants in decoding the existing dynamics of communication when they have a disorder in mastering certain words. On that note, communication analysts advocate for the generalization and idealization key words and phrases that are vital in revealing the intricate culture of the second language. Contrastingly, subjective involvement of the learners in the perspective of the ethnographer connotes a novelistic disposition that favors the comprehension of little details.  Another role that the mix-ability class should adopt is that of perceiving the conceptualization of the foreign language essentially to deconstruct the culture embedded within the cultural aspects (Blommaert 2005, pp. 211). In other words, large-scale generalizations that strengthen the linguistic faculty of the student are meant to provide a new synthesis of allowing the other participants to a reach a consensus of mutual intelligibility. Linguistic analysis continue to unravel the in depth benefits of analytic constructs such as decoding a new language toward a new objective of also assisting the English as First Language (EFL) instructors as will be explained in the next paragraph.

The instructors as advised to remain aware of linguistic ecology as distinct area of DA from the context of understanding the ecosystem in which a language operates. This is instrumental in the English profession when the relationship is contextualized within interactional linguistics. It is a linguistic phenomenon that persuades the teachers to emphasize on coherence as an extra-linguistic measure of guarding against the contradictions of giving incomprehensible utterances to the students. Consequently, the formulation of language should work from the operative principle of the broad issues that define not only perceptions, but also conceptions of thought that are the domain of semiotics. Sign processes and meaning-making in communication is, thus, an integral feature of designation and understanding implied analogies and allegories that characterize learning in classrooms for the affected learners. Alternatively, expanding school programs to accommodate the binary context and text distinction denote the future of even Arab learners immersing into the English tradition via linguistic ethnography. The step is crucial because it reduces dichotomous views that often act as an impediment to the holistic approach of comprehending foreign languages in younger students (Finnegan 2002, pp. 190). Additionally, the instructor is required to adhere to the DA principles of performance and competence when making communicative acts because it is linguistic abstractions that pose the greatest problem to learners. In brief, existing elements of communication must strive to respect the tenets of linguistic forms that are easy to comprehend and remember.

In terms of own development and awareness of aspects of language discourse, I have tremendously learned a lot. For example, I am now fluent in 4 languages with the ability to engage other multilingual friends because of my lexical competence. However, this has been necessitated by mastery of institutionalized ideology and values that define DA and the express ability to distinguish different forms of discourses. It means my linguistic detail in examining varying social theoretical approaches has been strengthened and boosted by a conversational analysis of English as a foreign language to ensure that I improve on my fluency and eloquence (Paltridge 2006, pp. 102). Accordingly, the discourse awareness is the consequence of emphasis on language tradition that demands the speaker to understand the basic tenets of linguistic ethnography notably the cultural purview of speech-making. This denotes a substantive shift from classroom learning only, but equally immersing oneself into the guiding principles of culture and customs to facilitate effective specialization. Critical observation of other non-linguistic perspectives and the sociological contexts of learning a new language have also been useful as will be explained in the next paragraph.

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Deeper knowledge of speaker’s intention in any discourse under the discipline of perlocution is integral when merged with illocution. The latter involves speech performance through words in order to see either invitation or explanation in diverse communicative contexts such as in a classroom for the Arab students learning English. Consequently, coherence and cohesion become a part of effective performance after the mastery of competence which denotes the understanding of the foreign language (Widdowson 2007, pp. 251). On that account, lexical cohesion becomes a fundamental component in my learning because now in order to create words with meaning, I take note of the logical structure and internal unity as proposed by Halliday and Hassan. It implies that for me and my students, the creation of textuality supported by lexical cohesion requires reiteration. The basic components of reiteration include antonym, hyponymy, and synonymy to expand my vocabulary items for any meaningful and coherent discourse. Establishing sentence boundaries will also be useful in classroom situation when emphasis is placed on lexical chains that facilitate desirable options of communicating difficult concepts.

Overall, the important points that arise from the essay concerning DA are numerous and worthy of note. First, involves the importance of communicating effectively assisted by the linguistic features of coherence and cohesion. It means any speaker must have knowledge of the language he intends to convey through the acts of both competence and performance. Second, entails the use of repetition in speech acts is significant to help in grammatical cohesion particularly when chain words that are being learned are complex as observed with the fate of the Arab students. Third, identifying the clear distinction between written and spoken discourse through the parameters of grammar, structure, and lexical features is critical in several ways. For example, it assists when it comes to pronunciation and intonation when making utterances. It equally ensures phonic elements like stress and pitch are incorporated within the communication analysis.

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  1. Baker, P. (2006). Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. London: Continuum.
  2. Barton, D., Hamilton, M. and Ivanic, R. (2009). Situated Literacies: Reading and Writing in Context. London: Routledge.
  3. Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Finnegan, R. (2002). Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection. London: Routledge.
  5. Paltridge, B. (2006). Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. London: Continuum.
  6. Widdowson, H. G. (2007). Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  7. Chomsky, N. (2010). Syntactic Structures. Ohio: MIT Press.
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