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Pragmatics and discourse analysis

Pragmatics, like discourse analysis, goes beyond structural study of the phrase and focuses on
higher units -speech acts and conversation turns: What is more, it focuses on its object of
study through consideration of the context and its construction, through recognition of
speaker intention, and through the establishment of implicit elements which the hearer has
to access.
Around the beginning of the seventies, impelled by the leap forward that the "thorie
delnonciation" had taken with the differentiation of sentences from propositions, and
propositions from utterances, a group of theories and theorists sought to go beyond the limits
of the sentence, and to engage with the meaning of discourse, that is non-arbitrary sequences
of utterances. In fact, the initial idea was that besides the known linguistic units (phonemes,
morphemes, sintactic constituents and lexical items) belonging to the different levels
characterising a language, one could postulate another new unit of analysis, which went
beyond phrase-level: namely discourse.
The contribution made by pragmatics4
It is plain that discourse analysis has objectives that lie very close to, if not shared by, those
of pragmatics. This is because discourse is none other than a sequence of sentences in
operation -in other words utterances. But while discourse analysts explain the interpretation
of the elements in question without going outside language, pragmatics resorts to other
ambits of human activity (beliefs, feelings, knowledge, intentions). Only in this way can
one explain how utterances are interpreted and how successful interpretation of utterances is
managed. 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

You should hurry up a little in persuading the PSOE, because we're all in a hurry to do
all that5.

Mr :

Do you read the papers ?

To know why Mr 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
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.

What we have presented here, then, is a rapid approximation to the complexity of discourse,
plus a series of concepts, taken from pragmatic theory and the theory of argumentation which
may make the analysis clearer. We have seen that the concessive orientation is the most
habitual in the type of political debate analysed here, followed by the consecutive
orientation. The conclusive mode, on the other hand, is not found so frequently, except in the
chunks of monologue, the parts of the discourse which the speakers had partially prepared
-occurring in the first few minutes and closing minutes of the debate. The pragmatic markers
that work to indicate these orientations constitute a restricted list, and in
any case may be omitted. Comparative analysis of the argumentative orientations in the
speech of the different politicians analysed in this article, may make it considerably clearer to
us, why they are more, or less, effective.

Discourse analysis and Grammar

The relationship between the grammatical form of a sentence and the wider context in
which it occurs lies in the intersection between grammar/syntax and discourse analysis.
Cohesion plays an extended role in this relation where the inclusion of the concepts Theme
and Rheme are important in the progression of any discourse.
English learners consciously acquire the structure of the English sentence either by
repetition or drills or by mere grammatical analysis. Thus; discourse analysts are interested in
the implication of these different structural options for the creation of text. It seems well
known that English has a quite fixed word order, normally summarised as SVOA, that is ,
Subject +Verb + Object + Adveriable. SVOA means that a declarative statement must carry
a subject at the front of the sentence, a verb after it and an object and/or an adveriable at the
end of the sentence. However, McCarthy (1991) states that, there are a variety of ways in
English in which we can reorder the basic elements of the sentence by altering different
elements to the front of the sentence. This movement is called fronting devices, as
illustrated in:
E.g. Sometimes Joyce reads the Guardian

E.g. What Joyce reads is the Guardian


E.g. its the Guardian Joyce reads


The writer decides where to start the sentence and the beginning of each sentence is its
theme. The rest of the sentence tells the reader something about the theme. That the rest of
the sentence is called rheme.The theme is the framework of the point of the departure of the
message. The rheme is what the addresser wants to convey about the theme (McCarthy:
1991). Halliday (1994) describes the theme-rheme dichotomy. First, the theme is marked in
intonation as a separate tone unit, frequently followed by a brief pause. Second, only the

elements of the kernel structure can become topic themes: the process (main verb), the
participants (subject and object) and the circumstantial factor (adveriables). In English, three
possible themes are found: Textual theme (discourse markers and conjunctions) +
interpersonal theme (vocative) + topic theme (SVOA elements).
The relation between substitution and ellipsis is very close because it is merely that ellipsis
is substitution by zero (0). What is essential in ellipsis is that some elements are omitted
from the surface text, but they are still understood. Thus, omission of these elements can be
recovered by referring to an element in the preceding text .Harmer defines it: () words are
deliberately left out of a sentence when the meaning is still clear. (Harmer, 2004:24).On
considering the following example:
Penny was introduced to a famous author, but even before, she had recognized him. It
appeared that the structure of the second clause indicates that there is something left out
introduced to a famous author, the omission of this feature kept the meaning still clear and
there is no need of repetition; Carter et al state that ellipsis occurs in writing where usually
e.g.1: Every one who [can] donate time to a charity should do so.
e.g.2: Every one who can donate time to a charity should
Conjunction is achieved to have grammatical cohesion in texts which show the relationship
between sentences. They are different from other cohesive, ties that they reach the meaning
by using other features in the discourse.


Conversation analysis The mode of analysis which subsequently grew into CA began with a puzzle.
The style of work which has come to be known as conversation analysis is associated with the
pioneering research of Harvey Sacks. As Schegloff reports in his introduction to the published
collection of Sacks lectures (Schegloff, 1992a), Sacks had been examining a corpus of recorded
telephone calls to the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center. One of the tasks of the Centers staff
was to try to obtain the callers name; and on many occasions, if they gave their name, they found that
the callers would then identify themselves in reply. In many cases, however, the Centers staff had
difficulty getting callers to state who they were: either callers would not say their name after the
Centers staff had introduced themselves; or later, when explicitly asked for their name, they would
refuse to disclose it. For the Center, then, the problem was getting callers to reveal their names.
Schegloff notes that for Sacks, however, a different issue became pressing. Displaying the original
and distinctive approach that came to characterise his work, Sacks began to wonder where, in the
course of the conversation could you tell that somebody would not give their name (1992, vol. I: 3).
With this puzzle in mind, Sacks became interested in the following opening section from one of the
calls, in which the caller (B) seemed to be having trouble with the agents name.
A: this is Mr. Smith, may I help you
B: I cant hear you
A: This is Mr Smith
B: Smith
There are many other features of the revised transcript which could be discussed: the importance of
timing periods of absence of talk; the significance of elongated or stressed words, and so on. But it
should be clear that careful transcription of the detail of what actually happens in interaction is an
important methodological procedure. It is important to keep in mind, though, that CA is not simply the
study of transcripts: it seeks to make sense of those events of which the transcription is a
representation. The transcript is merely an aid (albeit a valuable one) in the analysis of the events
recorded on tape. Sacks work was disseminated primarily through transcripts of his lectures at the
universities of Irvine and Berkeley, which were distributed to scholars interested in his ideas.
Although he did formally publish some of his work, his untimely death in 1975 meant that many of
his ideas were only available from the lectures. Many of his lectures were prepared for formal
publication by Gail Jefferson. Eventually, however, the lectures were published in their entirety
(Sacks, 1992), and remain an invaluable resource for researchers.

Discourse analysis
The mode of analysis which subsequently grew into DA began with a problem. Sociologists have had
a long-standing interest in science and its relationship to wider society. They had studied a variety of
topics: the organisation of the scientific community (Crane, 1972; Hagstrom, 1965); the norms of
scientific practice (Merton, 1973); the relationship between science and public funding, ORIGINS
AND ORIENTATIONS 13 Woofit-01.qxd 2/16/2005 11:05 AM Page 13 and wider political
developments (Sklair, 1973); and the processes which informed revolutionary developments in
scientific knowledge (Kuhn, 1970).
Differences The discussion of the differences between conversation analysis and discourse analysis
will be organised around various substantive and methodological issues. Substantive issues In this
section we examine the different kinds of substantive topics or issues which are studied in
conversation analysis and discourse analysis. Analysing actions vs analysing action orientations in
accounting practices In this section I will try to identify in general terms broad differences in the focus
of empirical research. I will argue that, as a heuristic, it is useful to identify the core analytic concern
of CA as the study of social action through language, and to identify the core analytic concern of DA
as the investigation of the way that accounts and formulations display an action orientation. But
before I go on to articulate this distinction, it is important to acknowledge that there are some blurry
areas where this distinction does not hold. Conversation analytic studies of interaction, on the whole,
tend to exhibit specific methodological characteristics, and there is a consistent style to formal
published studies. There is, however, greater diversity in discourse analytic research, in terms of both
the treatment of data and the range of analytic issues being explored, and some later discourse analytic
studies have much in common with conversation analytic research. For example, the data in Edwards
(1995a) analysis of interaction in a relationship counselling session are transcribed according to CA
conventions, and his analytic claims are grounded in close description of the activities


A Conceptualization of discourse community

A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals

A discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members

A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide

information and feedback

A discourse community utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the
communicative furtherance of its aims

Genres are simply assemblies of more-or-less similar textual objects but, instead, are coded
and keyed events set within social communicative processes. Recognizing those codes and
keys can be a powerful facilitator of both comprehension and composition
Genre often coincide with speech events, but must be treated as analytically independent of
them. They may occur in (or as) different events. The sermon as a genre its typically
identified with a certain place in a church service, but its properties may be evoked, for
serious or humorous effect, in other situations
A Working Definition of Genre

A genre is a class of communicative events

The principal criterial feature that turns a collection of communicative events into a
genre is some shared set of communicative purposes

Exemplars or instances of genres vary in their prototypicality

Genre analysis
Ever since the early conceptualisation of genre theory in the United Kingdom in 1980s I have
been partly instrumental in developing it from a purely linguistic analysis of academic and
professional genres to the analysis of professional practices and disciplinary cultures, thus
integrating textual, strategic or socio-pragmatic, and other critical aspects of genre
construction, interpretation, use, and exploitation in various professional contexts. What I

would like to do in this narrative is to offer purely personal reflections on some of the critical
developments in this theory in the last three decades.
Returning to Hasans (1985:114) claim that verbal identity and generic identity of a text
are not probabilistically related, it seems that this is only true when we see generic
identity at a level which excludes goal-types. On the other hand, if we take the structure
of speech act episodes as an analytical category, certain patterns between lexicogrammar,
discourse, and genre orientation become apparent. The nature of agency in
such episodes is an important indicator for generic activity and is easily overlooked in
the wider schema of the generic structure of texts. However, the pilot study above is
based on a relatively small set of data and not too much should be claimed for it until
further research has confirmed the results.