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DISCOURSE. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. More Fact than Fiction. A Novel Perspective. Reading and Writing. What time is it?. Capital D Discourse.

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Discourse l.jpg

DISCOURSE

by Don L. F. Nilsen

and Alleen Pace Nilsen

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Capital D Discourse

  • “Discourse with a big “D” is always more than just language. Discourses are ways of being in the world, or forms of life which integrate words, acts, values, beliefs, attitudes, social identities, as well as gestures, glances, body position, and clothes.”

    (Gee 19)

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DIAGOLIC AND INTERTEXTUALITY abstract as a coordinated pattern of words, deeds, values, beliefs, symbols, tools, objects, times, and places in the here and now as a performance that is recognizable as just such a coordination.”

  • “[A novel] is made in the head, and has to be remade in the head by whoever reads it, who will always remake it differently.”

    (Byatt 214)

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THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING abstract as a coordinated pattern of words, deeds, values, beliefs, symbols, tools, objects, times, and places in the here and now as a performance that is recognizable as just such a coordination.”

  • God (of monotheism)

  • gods (of polytheism)

  • Human

  • Animal

  • Plant

  • Manmade Objects

  • Simple Objects (Natural)

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THE NATURE OF THINGS: abstract as a coordinated pattern of words, deeds, values, beliefs, symbols, tools, objects, times, and places in the here and now as a performance that is recognizable as just such a coordination.”ATTRIBUTES AND BEHAVIORS

  • God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and immortal…

  • god is an archetype (messenger, ruler…)

  • Humans think, laugh, have language…

  • Animals breathe, move, play, attack, eat, die…

  • Plants are alive, face the sun…

  • Concrete Objects are tangible

  • Abstract Objects are intangible

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MOVING UP AND DOWN THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • God = Deification

  • god = deification (small d)

  • Human = Personification or Anthropomorphism

  • Animal = Disney Animation or Religious Animism

  • Plant = Vivication

  • Concrete Objects = Reification

  • Abstract Objects

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INDETERMINACY OF features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING

  • Depending on your belief system, you will structure the Great Chain of Being differently in terms of the following:

  • God

  • Society

  • Computers

  • Money

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SCRIPTS features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • In all Western countries, the restaurant script is very much the same. It involves the following:

  • Seating, Menu, Waiter, Meal, Payment, Tipping, Departure

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SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • Addie Bundren, the main character in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is dead during most of the novel. She nevertheless dominates the plot and the characters, as she had made Anse promise to bury her in her birthplace, Jefferson, Mississippi.

  • So when she dies, they have to carry her coffin sixty miles over swollen rivers and submerged bridges. The journey includes an unwanted pregnancy, the drowning of mules, and Addie’s slowly decaying corpse.

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  • Chapter 40 of features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.As I Lay Dying is entitled “Addie,” and contains a monologue telling about Addie’s bitter life and joyless marriage.

  • It tells about “Addie’s alienation, her feelilng of having been a stranger to her family all her life, and her wish to punish her husband Anse for being an unintelligent, devious, inflated self-centered, loveless man”

  • It ends, “Anse. Why Anse. Why are you Anse.”

    (Faulkner 165; Mey 245-246)

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But some critics are not able to suspend disbelief: features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • “Addie’s confessional, crucial as it is to an understanding of the book, is quite unwarranted from the point of view of verisimilitude, since, when she starts to speak, Addie has been dead for five days.”

    (Bleikasten 54)

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!TENDENCY features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • Probably the most important aspect of any discourse is its “tendency.” Discourse tendency relates to the purpose of a discourse.

  • Is the discourse designed to teach, to impress, to entertain, or what. Any aspect of the discourse which supports this tendency is good, and anything which distracts from the tendency (or purpose) of the discourse is bad.

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!!SOCIAL DISCOURSE features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • This is what happened at a meeting of a tenure and promotion committee some time ago.

  • The committee was trying to decide whether several articles written by an engineer on the subject of prestressed concrete were original contributions or “borrowed” from existing information. It was late in the day, and the group needed some entertainment.

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!!!HOT-POTATO DISCOURSE features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.

  • One committee member commented, “Well, at least he’s steady.” From across the table came, “Definitely one of the hard sciences,” followed by comments from other committee members: “Yes, very solid,” “A weighty topic?” and “Lots of concrete data.”

  • This discourse was generated by the entire group, and showed in-group bonding. But there were also witty judgments communicated in the flippant comments. But most importantly, they demonstrated that a discourse can be generated by a group as well as by an individual.

    (Nilsen & Nilsen 294)

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POINT OF VIEW features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.:

THE NOVEL: THE AD: THE TEXT BOOK:

ETHOS PATHOS LOGOS

TOUGH SWEET STUFFY

1ST PERSON 2ND PERSON 3RD PERSON

SUBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE

INFORMAL INTIMATE FORMAL

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14 features and behaviors of all of the levels below it.


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It is the language of intimacy, the language of no pretentions. The words are simple and the grammar is simple.

The writing is not planned, but just happens, in a stream of consciousness kind of way—you are there.

The sentences are short and choppy. If there is conjunction it is coordination, not subordination.

It is the language of the loosened tie and the rolled up shirt sleeves, with no pretentious multi-syllable or low-frequency words.

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Being egocentric, it is subjective, and whether it is written from the author participant or the author omniscient point of view, it is concerned with communicating people’s innermost feelings.

Tough language is the language of fiction, and therefore the process of “in medias res” is totally appropriate to this style—”In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountain.

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SWEET LANGUAGE written from the author participant or the author omniscient point of view, it is concerned with communicating people’s innermost feelings.

Sweet language is the language of advertisers. Walker Gibson calls this language AROMA (Advertising Rhetoric of Madison Avenue).

Sweet language is listener-oriented in an attempt to seduce listeners into buying products they don’t want or need.

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It is language full of innovative spellings, creative grammar, and wild punctuation.

Sweet writing contains many sentence fragments, and would rather flaunt a grammatical rule than conform to it: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. What do you want, good grammar, or good taste?”

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  • Sweet language is the language of sensationalism, the language of superlatives and hyperbole.

  • It is the language of diversion; it plays tricks on the reader with its puns, its word coinages, its humor, its packaging, its sex, and other aspects which have nothing to do with the product itself.

  • It is informal, or sometimes even intimate or cutesy in tone.

  • Contractions, clippings, blendings, and deletions abound, making it all the more cryptic and intimate.

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STUFFY LANGUAGE language of superlatives and hyperbole.

Where tough language is I-oriented, and sweet language is you-oriented, stuffy language is it-oriented.

It is the language of laboratory experiments , of research papers and theses and dissertations and scholarly books, and academia in general.

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Stuffy language is highly grammatical and highly formal. language of superlatives and hyperbole.

The syntax contains a great deal of subordination, and the sentences are frequently long and complex.

Infinitives, gerunds, present and past participial constructions, nominative absolutes, perfect, progressive, and passive constructions are almost totally confined to this style of writing.

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It is an impersonal style to the extent that first-person pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.

Stuffy language is also the language of limitations, restrictions and qualifications because the writer doesn’t want to make claims beyond the evidence.

Limiting (as opposed to descriptive) adjectives are frequent, as are prepositional phrases and relative clauses.

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!THE BIRMINGHAM RIOTS: pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.REPORTED IN THREE DIFFERENT STYLES

STUFFY:

“The police and firemen drove hundreds of rioting Negroes off the streets today with high pressure hoses and an armored car.”

(New York Times May 8, 1963)

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MORE INTERESTING: pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.

“Three times during the day, waves of shouting, rock-throwing Negroes had poured into the downtown business district, to be scattered and driven back by battering streams of water from high-pressure hoses and swinging clubs of policement and highway patrolmen.”

(New York Herald Tribune)

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POETIC: pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.

“The blaze of bombs, the flash of blades, the eerie glow of fire, the keening cries of hatred, the wild dance of terror at night—all this was Birmingham, Alabama.”

(Time, May 7, 1963)

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References: pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays (trans. Vern W. McGee). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Bleikasten, André. Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.” Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1973.

Byatt, A. S. Babel Tower. New York, NY: Random House, 1996.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York, NY: Random House, 1980 [1930].

Gee, James Paul. Introduction to Discourse Analysis. New York, NY: Routledge, 1999.

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Mey, Jacob L. pronouns are seldom allowed. For this and other reasons, passive constructions and impersonal constructions with abstract subjects are common.Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Oxford, England: Blackwell, 2001.

Minsky, Marvin. “A Framework for Representing Knowledge.” In The Psychology of Computer Vision. Ed: Patrick H. Winston. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1975, 211-277.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Raskin, Victor, ed. The Primer of Humor Research. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008.

Schank, Roger C., and Robert P. Abelson. Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1977.

Wright, Edmond. Narrative, Perception, Language and Faith. New York, NY: Palgrave/MacMillan, 2005.

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