There has been some confusion in the literature regarding the distinction between
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1. Discourse vs. Text Is it discourse analysis
Or Text analysis?
2. There has been some confusion in the literature regarding the distinction between ‘discourse analysis’ and ‘text analysis’.
It is a result of the confusion in the terms ‘discourse’ and ‘text’.
3. The Confusion Some researchers label their analysis ‘discourse analysis’, while others claim they are doing ‘text analysis’, but the difference is often inconsistent.
Some claim to make clear distinctions between ‘discourse’ and ‘text’, but a closer look reveals that their distinctions do not hold.
4. Examples: Widdowson (1973) Text:
is made up of sentences.
- A text is made up of sentences having the property of grammatical cohesion.
-Text Analysis: deals with cohesion. Discourse:
is the use of such sentences.
A discourse is made up of utterances having the property of coherence.
Discourse analysis: investigates coherence.
5. Problems with the distinctions: It contradicts the known and well-established distinction between ‘sentence’ and ‘utterance’ in the literature.
Widdowson did not maintain this distinction himself: In 1978 he argued that ‘discourse’ is made up of sentences having the properties of cohesion & coherence!
6. Another distinction Text:
Text is defined in terms of its being a physical product.
Meaning is not found in text. Discourse:
Discourse is viewed as a process.
Meaning is derived through the reader’s interaction with the text ? discourse.
7. Problems with such distinctions: There is considerable overlap between the findings of studies claiming to look at text as ‘product’ and of those claiming to investigate discourse as ‘process’.
Thus, it is not necessary to maintain a distinction between discourse analysis and text analysis on the basis of investigating a process as opposed investigating a product.
8. Others Text:
Text analysis: investigates written form Discourse:
Discourse analysis: analyzes spoken form.
9. Problems: Many studies have used models originally developed for studying spoken form to investigate written form (Tadros 1981), and vice versa (Hoey 1983).
Thus, such a distinction is not necessary.
10. Conclusion Many researchers have come to this conclusion:
Discourse analysis includes all studies investigating the supra-sentential structure of any stretch of language, spoken or written.
11. What about text analysis? The terms ‘text’ / ‘text analysis’ lead to confusion.
Therefore, the term ‘text’ should be abandoned unless it is used to refer to the physical arrangement of linguistic signals on paper (Tadros, 1981).