Niken Larasati Wening
- A. What is discourse analysis?
Discourse analysis is part of applied linguistics but does not belong exclusively to it; it is a multi-disciplinary field, and hugely diverse in the range of its interests. For many the interest in discourse is beyond language in use ( Jaworski & Coupland, 1999, p. 3) to “language use relative to social, political and cultural formations . . . , language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order, and shaping individuals’ interaction with society.”
‘Discourse’ is the general idea that language is structured according to different patterns that people’s utterances follow when they take part in different domains of social life, familiar examples being ‘medical discourse’ and ‘political discourse’. ‘Discourse analysis’ is the analysis of these patterns.
Let us give a few examples of possible applications of discourse analysis. For instance, it can be used as a framework for analysis of national identity. How can we understand national identities and what consequences do the division of the world into nation states have? Many different forms of text and talk could be selected for analysis. The focus could be, for instance, the discursive construction of national identity in textbooks about British history.
B. Defining Discourse
Discourse analysis is defined as the study of language viewed communicatively and/or of communication viewed linguistically. Here instead is a set of definitions in the style of a dictionary entry for “discourse”:
1 the linguistic, cognitive and social processes whereby meanings are expressed and intentions interpreted in human interaction (linguist 3);
2 the historically and culturally embedded sets of conventions which constitute and regulate such processes (linguist 4);
3 a particular event in which such processes are instantiated (linguist 2);
4 the product of such an event, especially in the form of visible text, whether originally spoken and subsequently transcribed or originally written
- C. Ways and Means
Each of our linguists will draw, in their own particular fashion and to different degrees, on the theories and techniques of a number of source disciplines for the study of language in use – especially linguistics, psychology, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, sociology, and anthropology. They will tend to favor one or more of a variety of approaches to conducting their research that have developed from these various sources. They are summarized in Table 5.1 and then briefly discussed under four main headings: rules and principles, contexts and cultures, functions and structures, and power and politics.
ü Rules and principles of language in use
Under this heading are grouped approaches which seek to understand the means by which language users – presumably universally, though this is always open to empirical contradiction – make sense, in the light of various contextual factors, of others’ utterances and contrive to have their own understood more
ü Contexts and cultures of language in use
Here are grouped approaches which focus on the sensitivity of ways of speaking (and writing) to situational and cultural differences. Ethnography of communication (Gumperz & Hymes, 1986; Duranti, 1997, Saville-Troike, 2003):
ü Functions and structures of language in use
Grouped here are text-friendly models of language and grammar-friendly approaches to text. Systemic-functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1978; Halliday & Hasan, 1985; Martin, 1992)
ü Power and politics
“Critical” approaches to discourse analysis do not hold a monopoly on interest in the power and politics of discourse. Pragmatic and sociolinguistic approaches necessarily share this concern.
- D. Interaction
It is with the concept of interaction that discourse (for the analyst) comes to life. Entrances are made, intentions are formed, topics are introduced, turns are taken, actions are performed, reactions are prompted and in turn reacted to; understandings are checked, contributions are acknowledged, breakdowns occur, repairs are contrived; exits are negotiated. People are at work, doing things with meanings (producing them, interpreting them, negotiating them), co-creating an event whose trajectory may be clear to none of them until it is complete, and perhaps not even then.
This is discourse seen not as product (a text on a page) but as process, joint action in the making (Clark, 1996), and in consequence most difficult to capture and analyze without losing sight of its essence.
The concept of discourse as interaction is present in all current ways and means of doing discourse analysis. In pragmatics, meaning is seen as “a dynamic process, involving the negotiation of meaning between speaker and hearer, the context of utterance (physical, social, and linguistic) and the meaning potential of an utterance” (Thomas, 1995, p. 22). The interactional workings of intention and effect are central to speech act theory; Grice’s maxims “are essentially ground rules for the interactive management of intentions” (Widdowson, 1998, p. 13); and the mutual establishment and maintenance of rapport (the avoidance of threats to face) underpins theories of politeness and tact.
- E. Discourse and first language education
It is, of course, not just second language learners for whom communicative competence is a goal of education. Education generally must acculturate children to new registers and genres, both spoken and written, developing their grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences along the way (Verhoeven, 1997).
Children bring to their school experience of a variety of standard and non-standard dialects and communicative codes which tend to be valued differently within the commodified “exchange system” of classroom speech (Wortham, 1998). The school, in turn, brings to the children’s learning experience an organized process of classroom talk which may promote personal involvement, co-ordinated interaction, and shared meaning (Cazden, 1988 cited in Verhoeven, 1997) or induce the transmission of standardized knowledge through a standardized structure (Wortham, 1998, p. 256). It is often claimed that the standardized structure that does most to induce standardized transmission is the IRF pattern referred to above, but a recent article by Nassaji and Wells (2000) suggests a more complex reality. The work of Halliday, Martin, Hyon and others in the Sydney School ( Johns, 2002; Macken-Horarik, 2002) addresses the issue of genre competence directly, drawing on SFL theory to produce text-based descriptions of school and institutional genres and registers. “Using these insights, practitioners have developed pedagogical frameworks in which genres and registers are related to the goals, values and ‘staged’ processes of a culture . . . As students become comfortable with particular text types, they are given an increasing amount of independence and encouraged to negotiate text structure and content” ( Johns, 2002, p. 5).
- F. Discourse and second language education
Since the beginnings of communicative language teaching (CLT) and especially the teaching of English for specific (academic and professional) purposes, second language teaching and learning has come to be understood increasingly in terms of discourse, so that “today it is rare to find people involved in language teaching who are unaware of the significance of discourse for teaching reading, writing, intonation or spoken language, and for the evaluation of students’ communicative competence” (Pennycook,
Hymes’ concept of communicative competence has been appropriated for language teaching purposes in a series of evolutionary reformulations (Canale & Swain, 1980; Canale, 1983; Bachman, 1990) so as to include grammatical, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences, all of which are in effect discourse competences, since they account for the ability of members of speech communities to put language to use. Defining the goals of language teaching in terms of communicative competence leads naturally to “an integrative view wherein the over-arching perspective of language as discourse will affect every part of the syllabus, including any conventional system components and functional/speech act components, however they are treated, whether as a series of layers of language, or as realizations within general specifications of discourse strategies” (McCarthy & Carter, 1994).
Within such a perspective, learner needs, syllabus aims and content, and task goals and procedures will all be specified primarily in discourse terms. Materials (text or audio/video) are selected and presented to meet criteria of communicative authenticity. Tests are constructed to recreate as closely as possible the conditions under which language will be used in real communication in the defined target situation.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWER
- What is the definition of discourse analysis?
Answer: Discourse analysis is defined as the study of language viewed communicatively and/or of communication viewed linguistically
- What are the approaches that proposed by the linguist?
Answer: There are rules and principles, contexts and cultures, functions and structures, and power and politics.