Discourse Analysis

Discourse Analysis as a tool to help our Learners’ Reading and Writing Skills

An Introduction to Discourse Analysis

“Discourse analysis is the study of how sentences in spoken and written language form larger meaningful units such as paragraphs, conversations, etc.”

(Richards et.al. 1985)

“Discourse Analysis is the study of the relationship between language and the context in which it is used.”

(McCarthy, M 1991)

In short discourse analysis examines how stretches of languages become meaningful and unified. It is concerned with how grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are used to create larger units of communication in particular contexts. Discourse analysis therefore considers language at text level and in context.

A text as a written record of a communicative (oral or written) event.
Discourse is the interpretation of that event in context.
Discourse analysis is the analysis of actual language in use. Take the sentence below:

“Who’s the fish?”

Taken in isolation it could appear as nonsense and semantically incorrect, but if spoken in a restaurant it becomes meaningful, and the reply might be “ I am. She’s the chicken.” This suggests that discourse may be composed of one or more utterances or sentences that contain grammatical or lexical   mistakes. What matters is that the meaning is conveyed.

The two key features of a text can be defined as follows;

 Cohesion: The formal links between both sentences and clauses. They are the ties which bind a text together. Cohesion results from the use of cohesive devices to link all the propositions in a text.

 Coherence:   The quality of meaning and unity of a piece of discourse, in that each sentence or utterance are connected   to form a meaningful whole with respect to the context.

Grammatical ties and a variety of lexical ties that bind texts together. These cohesive devises are:
• Reference
• Substitution
• Ellipses
• Conjunction
• Lexical Relationships...