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Discourse Analysis Assignment (1) (Oct, 9, 2011) Student ID: XXXXX Student Name: XX Lecturer: Ruby Chen

Communication can vary in various localities, with different people one converses, or within diverse contexts. Discourse thus is created, and it can be basically divided into two major groups, depending on the medium. Spoken discourse is primarily created based upon talks, for instance, daily conversation, debate, negotiation, in-class discussion, etc. On the other hand, written discourse can be defined with respect to the means of transmission. Writing letters can be a case in point. To date, however, people oftentimes use modern technology in this digital age; email is said to replace “snail mail� in many of the occasions. In addition, unlike theoretical linguistic aspect (e.g. morphology, syntax, phonology, semantics, pragmatics), discourse functions as shaping of the context, and it is also shaped by where it originates (Johnstone, 2002, p.9). In other words, discourse entails the appropriateness, contextual knowledge, and language features as people create and use it in different ways. Take myself for example, my girlfriend and I normally use mobile phone or SMS text for daily communication. From time to time, we may also write cards to each other on specific days. Last but not least, face-to-face conversation is a


must-have; we will have talks via Skype sometimes as well. From the different media or situations listed above, it is likely to draw a distinction between written and spoken discourse. A typical set of examples is provided in (1): (1) a.

(On the phone) E: Zai gan ma= What are you doing for now? S: =Mei you a ni ne= Nothing special. And you? E: =Xiang ni a bu xing o Thinking of you. Is it unallowed? S: {laugh} E : Chih bao bao mei= Have your lunch yet? S: =En chih bao le Yep. Already.

b.

(In a Valentine‘s card)

Dear Babe Ur father must be a thief; he stole the two MOST shinin’ stars from the sky, and then put them in ur eyes. =) If luvin’ u is mistake, I know I’ve been making a HUGE mistake!! Please stay with me forever…(kiss) Happy Valentine’s Day! XOXO Nate


As noted above, the two discourses differ in the sense that, to begin with, (1a) is spoken discourse, and (1b) is written. Also, different markers are made in (1a) to indicate the features, such tones, overlapping speech, which are rarely seen in the written text. (1b), on the other hand, entails misspelling words (e.g. luv, shinin’) and emoticons (e.g. =),

, XOXO), which can be deemed as the representation and

products of a subculture that cannot be displayed in oral speech. In addition, considering I was communicating with a person rather closer to me than the other acquaintances, in these two cases the language or expression I used here are far more non-serious than that of academic formalities and conventions. Furthermore, probing into deep in the interrogative structure of (1a), this appears to be a simple inquiry as an opener. It is clear-cut that the interaction is full of caring and love if the relationship is unveiled in the first place, which cannot be simply seen as a common dialogue between two unrelated people encountering each other on the street. This conversational involvement thus exploits that the presupposition embedded refers to the fact that these two people have known each other for a period of time. In the meantime, written discourse in (1b) serves as site of interaction between the author and the reader (Hoey, 2001, p.13). In this regard, different semiotic symbols (i.e. emoticons, misspelling words) in this card manifests the shared enterprises of them. The writer has presupposed that the receiver will be able to recognise these symbols.


Rather, the way of communication here is of large proportion based upon their attachment and relationship. To sum up, by no means would a person express the same way in different situations, for example, a thesis oral defense, or a public speech by talking the way to their beloved ones. That is, a person is in some ways to reach the context where the other speaker is when they interact with each other. Also, they are expected to have shared enterprise (e.g. contextual knowledge) and repertoire (e.g. language) before communication. All in all, a way of expression can also turn out to be different in terms of genres or media, where the distinction between spoken and written discourse can be made.

Reference Hoey, M. (2001). Textual interaction: An introduction to written discourse analysis. London: Routledge. Johnstone, B. (2002). Discourse analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

Appendix

Transcription Convention

(.) pause from one of the speakers (..) longer from one of the speakers (‌) rather longer pause from one of the speakers [‌] Pauses from both speakers = continue the dialogue without pause


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Words articulated by each syllable overlapping (?) unrecognizable sounds {} laughter [ ] different sounds from the background rising intonation falling intonation interjective stress & underscored louder sounds ~ ‌

lighter sounds reduplicated sounds the speaker doesn’t finish sentences and the sound continues


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