DEFINITION OF DISCOURSE. The difference between text and discourse
Originally the word 'discourse' comes from Latin 'discursus' which denoted 'conversation, speech'. Discourse is a term used in LINGUISTICS to refer to a continuous stretch of (especially spoken) LANGUAGE larger than a SENTENCE - but, within this broad notion, several different applications may be found. At its most general, a discourse is a behavioural UNIT which has a pre-theoretical status in linguistics: it is a set of UTTERANCES which constitute any recognisable SPEECH event, e.g. a conversation, a joke, a sermon, an interview... [Crystal, Dictionary of linguistics and phonetics, 3rd edn 1991]
In the broad sense discourse 'includes' TEXT (q.v.), but the two terms are not always easily distinguished, and are often used synonymously.
Some linguists would restrict discourse to spoken communication, and reserve text for written:
1. result of the process of speech production in graphic form
2. indirect (processed) speech
3. no personal contacts between agents
4. perception of speech in different space and time
5. one agent
1. The process of speech production in the form of a sound
2. Spontaneous speech in a particular situation with the help of verbal and nonverbal means
3. Personal contacts between agents
4. generation and perception of speech in a unity of space and time
5. two authors constantly change their roles 'speaker - hearer' (bilateral discourse).
There are a number of approaches to discourse analysis and pragmatics is one of them.
Definitions of pragmatics:
The underlying concepts behind pragmatics are meaning, context and communication. Early researchers considered pragmatics as having originated from semiosis, a process that involves the use of signs; hence signs are central to pragmatics users. Pragmatics is a broad approach to discourse that deals with the widely vast concepts of meaning, context and communication. Due to the wide scope of pragmatics, experts have failed to reach an agreement on the best definition of this approach. In language, pragmatics and discourse are closely connected. Discourse is the method, either written or verbal, by which an idea is communicated in an orderly, understandable fashion. Used as a verb, discourse refers to the exchange of ideas or information through conversation. Comparatively, pragmatics involve the use of language to meet specific needs or for a predetermined purpose. As such, pragmatics and discourse are related in that pragmatics are the means by which the purpose of discourse is achieved.
Both pragmatics and discourse involve concepts far deeper than mere word definitions and sentence structure. Unlike grammar, which involves the rules governing proper language structure, pragmatics and discourse focus on the meaningfulness of spoken or written language. Whether storytelling, explaining, instructing, or requesting, a speaker or writer has an intended purpose for communicating. How a speaker or writer constructs sentences to meet his intended
purpose involves both pragmatics and discourse.
It is only with the aid of considerations of a pragmatic nature that we can go beyond the question "What does this utterance mean?" and ask "Why was this utterance produced?".and explain how utterances are interpreted and how successful interpretation of utterances is managed. F.E.
1 Ms: (You should hurry up a little in persuading the PSOE, because we're all in a
hurry to do all that)
Mr: (Do you read the papers ?)
To know why Mr (Maragall) asks the question, we need to bear in mind quite a number of considerations of a pragmatic nature, for example, the degree of relevance of the question: in fact considerable, given that this is a political debate.
While discourse analysis can only explain that this is a reply to the observation made by Ms (Mas) or explain what type of sentences make up each of the utterances, pragmatics will explain what kind of reply it is, based on one or more implicatures. For example, "if you read the newspapers you will know that I have done so many times", or "as I am sure that you read the newspapers, I think you know perfectly well that I have done so, therefore your observation is unnecessary". Taking a pragmatic approach, the linguist can successfully
uncover the intention that Mr has in selecting "Do you read the papers?", and why he selected this utterance rather than another one.
Pragmatics' object of study is "language use and language users" (Haberland & Mey 2002, 1673).
Argumentative discourse. The concept of argument has a long history in communication. An argument is a concluding statement that claims legitimacy on the basis of reason. But argumentative discourse is a form of interaction in which the individuals maintain incompatible positions. More specifically, argumentative discourse directs attention to the arguments of naïve social actors engaged in intersubjective social interaction rather than the nature and structure of abstract arguments ( Willard 1989 ). The traditional notion of argument has the logical syllogism as its elemental structure. Thus, the concluding statement (A = C) is logically necessitated in: A = B, B = C, therefore A = C. A politician who states that "Democrats are liberals; my opponent is a democrat; therefore, my opponent is a liberal" is arguing from such syllogistic logic. Argument in this case is abstract and separate from the perspective of social actors.
Institutional discourse. Over the past thirty years or so, scholars of language and social life have investigated discourse within a variety of institutional contexts, most notably within schools, courtrooms, corporations, clinics and hospitals. In Institutional Discourse, you will have multiple opportunities to build on your knowledge and practice of discourse analysis by exploring some of the intriguing regions in which institutions and discourse intersect.
Lecture 2. Cognition in discourse (1 hour)
1) Portraying cognitive process
2) Cognitive process as an interactional event
3) Grasping the meaning of referents
- Tracking the ownership of knowledge
4) Discussion: informational terrain and cognitive process in conversation
Cognition is the word we use to refer to mental activities such as seeing, attending, remembering and solving problems. The study of cognition is the study of the cognitive processes that receive, transmit and operate upon information. These processes operate at every waking moment and they are also part of our personality, our intelligence and the way we interact socially. Comprehending them is, to a large extent, understanding what it means to be human. Their biological site is in the brain and, in psychiatry and neuroscience they are sometimes considered as mind-related.
Cognitive linguistics has emerged in the last twenty-five years as a powerful approach to the study of language, conceptual systems, human cognition, and general meaning construction.
It addresses within language the structuring of basic conceptual categories such as space and time, scenes and events, entities and processes, motion and location, force and causation. It addresses the structuring of ideational and affective categories attributed to cognitive agents, such as attention and perspective, volition and intention.
Cognitive linguistics recognizes that the study of language is the study of language use and that when we engage in any language activity, we draw unconsciously on vast cognitive and cultural resources, call up models and frames, set up multiple connections, coordinate large arrays of information, and engage in creative mappings, transfers, and elaborations. Language does not "represent" meaning; it prompts for the construction of meaning in particular contexts with particular cultural models and cognitive resources.
Cognitive linguistics goes beyond the visible structure of language and investigates the considerably more complex backstage operations of cognition that create grammar, conceptualization, discourse, and thought itself. The theoretical insights of cognitive linguistics are based on extensive empirical observation in multiple contexts, and on experimental work in psychology and neuroscience.
The alliance between Cognitive Linguistics and the study of discourse has become stronger in the recent past. This is a natural development. On the one hand, Cognitive Linguistics focuses on language as an instrument for organizing, processing, and conveying information; on the other, language users communicate through discourse rather than through isolated sentences.
a. Cognitive Linguistics is a source of inspiration for the modeling of discourse structure. Major contributions such as those by Fauconnier (Mental Spaces), Langacker (Subjectivity), and Sweetser (Domains of Use) offer the terminology and theoretical framework to consider linguistic phenomena as structure-building devices.
b. Cognitive Linguistics provides theoretical insights that can be-and partly have been- extended to the discourse level. An example is the classical cognitive linguistic work on categorization. Human beings categorize the world around them. As Lakoff (1987) and Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have shown, the linguistic categories apparent in people's everyday language use provide us with many interesting insights in the working of the mind. Over the last decade, the categorization of coherence relations and the linguistic devices expressing them have played a major role in text-linguistic and cognitive linguistic approaches to discourse. For instance, the way in which speakers categorize related events by expressing them with one connective (because) rather than another (since) can be treated as an act of categorization that reveals language users' ways of thinking.
c. Cognitive Linguistics is the study of language in use; it seeks to develop so-called usage-based models (Barlow and Kemmer 2000) and in doing so increasingly relies on corpora of naturally occurring discourse that make it possible to adduce cognitively plausible theories to empirical testing.
d. Cognitive Linguistics typically appreciates the methodological strategy of converging evidence. In principle, linguistic analyses are to be corroborated by evidence from areas other than linguistics, such as psychological (Gibbs 1996) and neurological processing studies.
We have discourse analysis, and its many branches (stylistics, rhetoric, narrative or argumentation analysis, as well as syntactic, semantic or pragmatic analysis, and of course conversation analysis), but "cognitive analysis" is not a well-known, standard way of looking at text or talk.
We have a cognitive psychology of discourse processing (production, comprehension), and we have a social psychology of discourse (the Loughborough school) called "discursive psychology", but the latter rejects any mental approach and in fact advocates a more ethnomethodological approach to discourse within social psychology.
A psychological or cognitive study of discourse is rather different from a more formal, grammatical or (say) stylistic, narrative or argumentative analysis. It does not deal with abstract categories and rules purported to describe 'structures' of discourse, but with the actual mental representations and processes of language users. In that respect, psychology intends to provide a more 'empirically' based understanding of discourse.
in a cognitive analysis, interpretation is not static, nor an abstract procedure, as in linguistic semantics, but a dynamic, ongoing process of (at first tentatively) assigning meaning and functions to units of discourse.
In order to account for such processes of production and understanding, psychology makes use of a large number of more or less technical notions describing various aspects of the 'mind':
Short Term Memory (STM) vs. Long Term Memory (LTM)
Episodic Memory vs. Semantic Memory
Situation or Even Models
Knowledge (scripts, etc.)
A cognitive analysis as intended does not at all exclude a further social analysis. Indeed, many aspects of cognitive representations and processing are themselves social -- such as the socially shared knowledge and other beliefs, as well as the jointly constructed social aspects of the context. Indeed, discourse processing and understanding is studied at all levels as part of a communicative event, as a form of social interaction, for which in fact it provides a further cognitive basis: also action and interaction derives its meanings, functions and coordination from cognitive representations that ongoingly monitor it.
"Cognitive analysis" of discourse, however, is NOT the same as a psychological study of discourse processing. Psychology focuses on the structures and processes of mental representations, and does so, for instance, with experiments, or using other forms of evidence of what actually goed on in the mind. So, cognitive analysis is not going to measure reading or reaction times, or any other method psychologists use to test their hypotheses.
Cognitive analysis is focused on discourse and its structures, but derives its terms from the theory of discourse processing.
Elements of cognitive analysis: Topics, Implications and implicatures, Presuppositions, Local coherence, Lexical meanings; connotations, We have only given a short list of examples for cognitive analysis. However, we see that a cognitive analysis generally applies to (semantic) structures such as the following:
- Defining the situation; defining as overall meanings (topics)
Examine relevant implied meanings of words or sentences
What is being presupposed (as knowledge)?
How does the text cohere? etc.
Most of these semantic structures, as well as many others, can only be accounted for in terms of personal or socially shared knowledge, and require listing relevant knowledge or other beliefs.