Discourse analysis
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
Sponsored Links
1 / 47

DISCOURSE ANALYSIS PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Università di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale Dipartimento di Scienze Umane, Sociali e della Salute Corso di Laurea in Lingue Moderne a. a. 2013-2014 Dott. Saverio Tomaiuolo / Dott. Naomi Njobvu (Docente Integrato) Lingua Inglese 1 (C. I.). DISCOURSE ANALYSIS. BY PROF NAOMI NJOBVU

Download Presentation


An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Discourse analysis

Università di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale

Dipartimento di Scienze Umane, Sociali e della Salute

Corso di Laurea in Lingue Moderne

a. a. 2013-2014

Dott. Saverio Tomaiuolo / Dott. Naomi Njobvu (Docente Integrato)

Lingua Inglese 1 (C. I.)




27& 28 NOV, 2013.




  • Roman Jakobson (October 10, 1896 – July 18, 1982)

  • Was a renowned and influential linguist of the twentieth century.

  • drew his influence from Ferdinand de Saussure, a structural linguist.

  • With the influence from the structural linguist, Jakobson, with Nikolai Trubetzkoy, developed techniques for the analysis of sound system in languages.

Discourse analysis


  • further applied the same techniques to syntax and morphology.

  • Controversially, he proposed that the techniques be applied to Semantics of which Discourse Analysis is an extension.

Definition of discourse


  • Wassniewsk, (2006) states that the word discourse has its genesis from the Latin word ‘discursus’ which denoted ‘conversation, speech’.

  • Crystal (1992:25) defines discourse as a continuous stretch of language larger than a sentence, often constituting a coherent unit such as a sermon, argument, joke, or narrative.

  • Discourse is also understood as naturally occurring language or language in use (Stubbs, 1983; Cook, 1989).

  • Therefore it can be concluded that discourse is any instance of language use for communication;

Discourse analysis


  • by real human beings in a real -life setting in either spoken or written form.

  • A characteristic feature of a piece of discourse is that:

  • it should communicate and;

  • be recognised by both the sender and the receiver as being meaningful, unified and coherent.

  • Discourse may consist of a single word or utterance or a series of words or utterances.

Definition of discourse analysis


  • Discourse Analysis refers to the analysis of language in use beyond a sentence in a real life situation.

  • It focuses on investigating connected, naturally occurring spoken or written instances of language use in real contexts.

  • There are 3 main components in discourse analysis; Cohesion, Organisation of Information and Coherence.

Seven criteria of qualifying w ritten spoken d iscourse

Seven Criteria of Qualifying Written & Spoken Discourse

  • Cohesion- grammatical relationship between parts of a sentence essential for its interpretation;

  • Coherence - the order of statements relates to one another by sense.

  • Intentionality - the message has to be conveyed deliberately and consciously;

  • Acceptability - indicates that the communicative product needs to be satisfactory in that the audience approves it;

  • Informativeness- some new information has to be included in the discourse;

Discourse analysis


  • Situationality- circumstances in which the remark is made are important;

  • Intertextuality- reference to the world outside the text or the interpreters' schemata;

  • NB: not all above mentioned criteria are perceived as equally important in discourse studies,

  • therefore some of them are valid only in certain methods of the research

Starting point of discourse analysis

Starting point of discourse analysis

  • Zellig Harris, (October 23,1909 – May 22, 1992) was the first modern linguist who coined the name 'discourse analysis',

  • afterwards this denoted a branch of applied linguistics, (Cook 1990:13).

  • Originally, however, it was not to be treated as a separate branch of study –

  • Harris proposed extension of grammatical examination.

Written texts analysis

Written texts analysis

  • Major concern of written discourse analysts is:

  • the relation of neighbouring sentences and,

  • The use of 'that' to refer to a previous phrase, or clause in speech (McCarthy 1991:37).

  • use of some cohesive devices which apart from linking clauses or sentences

  • are also used to emphasize notions that are of importance to the author and

  • enable the reader to process the chosen information at the same time omitting needless sections.

Links within discourse

Links within discourse

  • Links in discourse studies are divided into two groups:

  • formal- which refer to facts that are present in the analyzed text, and

  • contextual - referring to the outside world, the knowledge (or schemata) which is not included in the communicative product itself (Cook 1990:14).

  • this section is devoted to representation of formal links which are referred to as cohesive devices.

Definition of cohesion

Definition of Cohesion

  • Cohesionrefers to the formal grammatical and lexical relations that exist between two or more linguistic units in a piece of discourse.

  • These units may be words, phrases or clauses.

  • This section is devoted to representation of formal links which are referred to as cohesive devices



  • Presuppositions are crucial in the interpretation of a piece of discourse.

  • The one involving what has gone before is referred to as anaphoric while presupposition involving what is yet to come is called cataphoric.

  • Those presuppositions that refer to something either outside or inside a text are called exophoric and endophoric respectively.

Discourse analysis


  • Endophoric presuppositions are the main cohesive relations that exist within any piece of discourse.

  • Halliday and Hasan recognise five types of cohesive devices in English. These are reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion.

Cohesive devices

Cohesive devices

  • Reference : is an instance of cohesion in which the semantic interpretation of a linguistic unit is dependent on that of another unit to which it refers.

  • It also refers to the use of words which do not have meanings of their own, such as pronouns and articles.

  • Reference may be personal, demonstrative etc as in:.

  • Personal e.g.

  • Tom: "How do you like my new Mercedes Vito?" –

  • Marry: "It is a nice van, which I'm also thinking of buying".

  • Demonstrative e.g.

  • Tom and Marry speak French and Italian. These were the only students that went to France.



  • cohesive effect achieved by replacing one linguistic unit with another:

  • to avoid repeating the same word several times in one paragraph.

  • It may be nominal, verbal or clausal.

  • It is replaced, most often by one, do or so.

  • So and do in its all forms might also substitute whole phrases or clauses e.g.

  • Nominal

  • This novel is boring. Can I have that one.

  • in which one replaces the noun novel.

Discourse analysis



  • The citizens did not vote the way they used to do in the previous years.

  • where do substitutes the verb vote.


  • "Tom has created the best web directory. I told you so, long time ago.

  • Where so replaces the clause ‘Tom has created the best web directory’.



  • it is very similar to substitution;

  • however, it replaces a word, phrase or a clause by a gap.

  • In other words, it is omission of noun, verb, or a clause.

  • The assumption is that it is understood from the linguistic context.


  • The people continued shifting from one political party to another ( ).



  • In which another functions as head of the elliptical nominal political party which is omitted immediately after it.


  • Women voted for Elizabeth, men ( ) for Jakobson while the rest stayed at home.

  • where the verb voted is omitted between men and for.

Discourse analysis



  • Dr. Emmanuel complained that mothers did not vote. He said he did not understand why ( ).

  • where why functions as head of the elliptical clause ‘mothers did not vote’ in the first sentence.



  • Specifies the relationship between clauses, or sentences.

  • Most frequent relations of sentences are:

    Additive( and, moreover )e.g.

  • Mary bought a dress. And she gave it to her daughter.

  • "Moreover, the chocolate fountains are not just regular fountains, they are more like rivers full of chocolate and sweets."),

Discourse analysis


Temporality ( afterwards, next) e.g.

  • He bought her perfume at a local perfume shop and afterwards moved toward a jewellery store.

    Causality ( because, since).

  • He was arrested because he killed his daughter.

    Adversative (but, yet, nevertheless etc)

  • He worked hard. Yet, he failed the examination.

Lexical cohesion

Lexical cohesion

  • denotes links between words which carry meaning: verbs, nouns, adjectives.

  • Two types of lexical cohesion are differentiated, namely:

  • reiteration and collocation.

  • Reiteration adopts various forms, particularly synonymy (good, nice; elections, polls), repetition (voted , voted), hyponymy (Italy, country) or antonymy(good; bad).

Discourse analysis


  • Collocation is the way in which certain words occur together,

  • which is why it is easy to make out what will follow the first item.eg strong tea, crystal clear; or

  • dictatorship kind of government vs democratic government.

  • The presence of one means the absence of the other.

Discourse analysis


  • From the analysis of written language when people produce discourse, they focus not only on the correctness of a single sentence,

  • but also on the general outcome of their production.

  • When teaching a foreign language concentrating on creating grammatically correct sentences,

  • might not be the best approach for learning a language from a discoursal perspective, (Cook 1990, McCarthy 1991, Salkie 1995).

Context and co text


  • Discourse analysts describe co-text as the phrases that surround a given word, and

  • context as the place in which the communicative product was formed. (McCarthy 1991:64).

Practical exercise


Read the following text and identify 10 cohesive ties and indicate the phoric category of each.


(1) Every traditional establishment constitute an interest group. (2) like any other group of people, it has values and interest it cherishes and would like to perpetuate. (3) Every traditional establishment also has particular relations with the state. (4) these may be positive, if it views the state as being accommodative of its interests and negative if it considers the state as being inimical to them. (5) the type of relations normally determines whether the traditional establishment will be supportive of the part in power during an election or not. (6) And whatever the case, the establishment most invariably urges/directs its subjects to vote in a manner it considers most likely to advance its cause.

Discourse analysis


  • (7) Such directives are not always adhered to, however, unless they are in harmony, rather than at variance, with those of the subjects themselves. (8) For although Traditional Establishments are linked to their people, the interests of the groups are not always identical. (9) There sometimes exists differences of opinion or choice between the two; when faced with opposing parties seeking election to political office(s). (10) This actually happens in the Barotseland protectorate in the early 1960s, when the traditional establishment’s favoured party, the Barotse National Party (BNP) was twice defeated by the united Nations Independence Party (UNIP)



  • Akmajian, A. and Demers, R. A. Linguistics. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

  • Cook, G. 1990. Discourse. Oxford: OUP.

  • Crystal, D. 1992. Introducing linguistics. Harlow: Penguin.

  • Crystal, D. 1995. The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English Language.Cambridge: CUP.

  • Dakowska, M. 2001. Psycholingwistyczne podstawy dydaktyki języków obcych. Warszawa: PWN.

  • Gauker, Ch. 2003. Words without meaning. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

  • Gee, J. P. 2001. An introduction to discourse analysis.London: Routledge.



  • McCarthy, M. 1991. Discourse analysis for language teachers. Cambridge:CUP.

  • Renkema, J. 2004. Introduction to discourse studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

  • Rogers, R. (ed.). 2004 An introduction to critical discourse analysis in education.Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

  • Salkie, R. 1995. Text and Discourse analysis. London: Routledge.

  • Scollon, R. 2001. Mediated Discourse. The nexus of practice. London: Routledge.

  • Trappes-Lomax, H. 2004 "Discourse analysis". The handbook of applied linguistics. 135-164

Part 2




  • Discourse as a communicative event

  • Given and New Information

  • Syntax and the Given/New Distinction

  • Theme and Rheme

  • Thematic Fronting

  • Theme, Topic and Title

  • Coherence

Discourse as a communicative event

Discourse as a communicative event

  • Every piece of discourse exploits the available resources of a language.

  • There are various possible ways of arranging words, phrases and clauses within sentences.

  • There are also different possibilities for the order of sentences and larger units such as paragraphs.

  • Particular choices of words and how they are combined will affect the meaning communicated eg 323 and 324 below show:

Discourse analysis


  • 323.Mary married and became pregnant.

  • 324.Mary became pregnant and married.

  • The selection made by the sender from the possible options which the language systems provide, gives a piece of discourse its informativity.

  • In examples above, the second sentences of each pair are identical, but their meanings are different because of the different choices of first sentences:

Given and new information

Given and New Information

  • In written discourse information is organised from what is known to what is not known

  • or from what is given to what is new.

  • The concepts of given and new are relative.

  • what is presented as new in one instance might be given in another and what is presented as given in one instance might be new in another.

  • Hence, the relativity of the concepts given and new.

Discourse analysis


  • Example:

    325: Yesterday, I saw a little girl get bitten by a dog. I tried to catch the dog, but it ran away.

  • Notice that through the article “a”, in the first sentence, we are able to identify new information.

  • Even when answering a comprehension passage or when translating, these are some of the marks that you need to look out for, to deliver the information correctly to the receipients.

Syntax and the given new distinction

Syntax and the Given/New Distinction

  • We may now relate the given/new distinction to some of the syntactic forms considered under cohesion.

  • Consider what forms are used to refer to given and new information in the following example:

    326. I saw two young people there. He kissed her.

    327.Mary brought us food. The nshima was cold.

    328. I bought a new book yesterday. I really like it.

Discourse analysis


  • Two of the most common expressions used to refer to an entity treated as given are pronouns and definite articles.

  • Several syntactic options make it possible to designate new information by placing it at the end of a sentence.

  • In particular the passive voice can be used when the agent is new:

  • 329.The picture was painted by John.

  • Note that 329 can be an appropriate reply to 330, but not to 331.

  • 330.Who painted the picture?

  • 331.What did John paint?

Discourse analysis



  • English has other grammatical and lexical means for reversing the order of roles.

  • These are known as Converses.

    332.My uncle benefited from the will.

    333.The will benefited my uncle.

    334.The bottle contained a blue liquid.

    335.A blue liquid was in the bottle.

Theme and rheme

Theme and Rheme

  • In systemic functional linguistics theme is viewed as the ‘point of departure’ of a sentence.

  • It usually contains familiar, old or given information which provides a setting for the remainder of the sentence called the rheme.

  • Wang (2007) claims that this could be a nominal group, verbal group, adverbial group, prepositional phrase or a dependent phrase or clause.

Discourse analysis


  • The theme is the first element in a clause.

  • It has been referred to as the ‘psychological subject’, though it needs not be the grammatical subject.

  • The theme is the starting point of the utterance, the communicative point of departure for the rest of the clause as shown in the following examples:

  • 336.I (don’t know).

  • 337.Yesterday (we discussed his case).

  • 338.His spirit (they could not kill)

Discourse analysis


  • 339.His spirit (they could not kill)

  • 340.Suddenly (the rope gave way).

  • 341.The people who are hungry (deserve to be fed).

  • 342.Mary, (I like her).

  • 343.Did (he buy a new house)?

  • 344.Which house (did he buy)?

  • As a general principle in English, theme is associated with given and rheme with new information

  • unless there is good reason for choosing some other alignment.

Thematic fronting

Thematic Fronting

  • Thematic fronting occurs when the theme is ‘marked’, that is,

  • when some element of the clause which does not usually assume this function is made into the theme

  • 365.Banda they call me.

    (They call me Banda.)

  • 366.An utter fool I felt too.

    (I felt an utter fool)

Discourse analysis


  • 367.A good teacher she’s not.

  • she is not a good teacher.

  • Thematic fronting is often associated with syntactic inversion.

  • This can be of two types.

  • The first is subject-verb inversion, which occurs when a normally post-verbal element is moved to pre-subject position, as in:

Discourse analysis


  • 368.Here comes the bus.

  • 369.There are our friends.

  • 370.Away went the car like a whirlwind.

  • 371.Slowly out of his cave came the cyclops

  • 372.So say all of us.

Discourse analysis


  • John and Mary met at Cassino University when they were students in 2006. Both of them graduated in 2010. They were married in 2011. The couple now lives in Florence with their ten-month old son.

Practical exercise1

Practical Exercise

INSTRUCTIONS: State whether the text is thematically presented.

Mechanical engineering is the application of science to the creation of useful devices to meet the needs of society. Mechanical engineering focuses on the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of a wide variety of machinery. The products of their work range from jet engines to minute instruments for use in medicine.

Discourse analysis


  • Mechanical engineers usually create engineering drawings of the devices which are to be produced. Before the late 20th century, drawings were usually made manually but the wide spread use of computers has enabled the creation of drawings and designs using computer- aided design (CAD) programs. Modern CAD programs allow engineers to produce three- dimensional models, which can be used directly in the manufacture of the devices depicted.

  • Login