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Discourse Analysis

Discourse Analysis (DA) is a modern discipline of the social sciences that covers a wide variety of different sociolinguistic approaches. It is a general term for a number of approaches to analyze written, vocal, or sign language use or any significant semiotic event. It is the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts. Discourse analysis is sometimes defined as the analysis of language 'beyond the sentence'. This contrasts with types of analysis more typical of modern linguistics, which are chiefly concerned with the study of grammar: the study of smaller bits of language, such as sounds (phonetics and phonology), parts of words (morphology), meaning (semantics), and the order of words in sentences (syntax). Discourse analysts study larger chunks of language as they flow together. Discourse analysis which was developed in the 1970s, concerns itself with the use of language in a running discourse, continued over a number of sentences, and involving the interaction of speaker (or writer) and auditor (or reader) in a specific situational context, and within a framework of social and cultural conventions. Discourse analysis is not only about method; it is also a perspective on the nature of language and its relationship to the central issues of the social sciences. More specifically, we see discourse analysis as a related collection of approaches to discourse, approaches that entail not only practices of data collection and analysis, but also a set of metatheoretical and theoretical assumptions and a body of research claims and studies.

Discourse analysis is based on the understanding that there is much more going on when people communicate than simply the transfer of information. It is not an effort to capture literal meanings; rather it is the investigation of what language does or what individuals or cultures accomplish through language. This area of study raises questions such as how meaning is constructed, and how power functions in society. A discourse can be studied as something separate from the individual authors or speakers. It can refer to something that exists in society and upon which we draw in order to communicate with others. To conduct discourse analysis, a researcher generally selects texts. The term text connotes a wide-range of possible data sources including transcripts of recorded interviews, movie scripts, advertisements, or a company’s internal documents. Discourse analysts usually select texts that are as complete as possible – an interview transcript may be written up including all of the pauses, errors, and corrections. There are a number of divisions and distinctions that have been drawn to explain the ways in which discourse is analyzed. One useful simple distinction is that the study of discourse can be divided into three domains: the study of social interaction, the study of minds, selves, and sense-making, and the study of culture and social relations. It is important to note that the study of discourse spans many different disciplines within the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. It can also be qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. Moreover, it is not even possible to isolate only one philosophical tradition or epistemology that informs the study of discourse (Wetherell, Taylor, and Yates, 2001). So it is more important to be clear about what traditions and theories are informing your method of analyzing discourse than it is to assume that discourse analysis can only be conducted one way.

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Associations on Discourse Analysis
• Linguistic Society of America
• Rhetoric Society of America
• Discourse in Society
• Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing
• Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
• Modern Language Association
• Association for the Rhetoric of Science and Technology
• Society for Technical Communication
• Association of Teachers of Technical Writing
• International Writing Centers Association
• National Communication Association
• Association of Teachers of Technical Writing

Conferences on Discourse Analysis
• 2nd International Conference “Discourse as Social Practice: Priorities and Prospects from 16-Oct-2014 - 17-Oct-2014 in Moscow, Russia.
• 4th International Conference on Law, Language and Discourse & 8th Conference of the China Association of Forensic Linguistics from 18-Oct-2014 - 21-Oct-2014 in Xi'an, China.
• Political Discourse in the Romance Speaking Countries: Linguistics and Social Science from 09-Oct-2014 - 11-Oct-2014 in Stockholm, Sweden.
• Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language from 04-Nov-2014 - 06-Nov-2014 in Santa Barbara, CA, USA.
• Multilingual Discourse Competence from 12-Nov-2014 - 13-Nov-2014 in Munich, Germany.
• The Changing Landscape of Professional Discourse / Fachkommunikation im Wandel from 06-Nov-2014 - 08-Nov-2014 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
• 3rd International Conference on Language, Discourse, and Pragmatics from 28-Jan-2015 - 29-Jan-2015 in Ahvaz, Iran.
• MLA 2015: Recent Work in Narrative and Discourse from 08-Jan-2015 - 11-Jan-2015 in Vancouver, Canada.
• 15th DiscourseNet Conference: Discourses of Culture - Cultures of Discourse from 19-Mar-2015 - 21-Mar-2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.
• 4th International Symposium 'Discourse Markers in Romance Languages: A Contrastive Approach' from 06-May-2015 - 09-May-2015 in Heidelberg, Germany.
• 5th New Zealand Discourse Conference from 07-Dec-2015 - 09-Dec-2015 in Auckland, New Zealand.

This page will be updated regularly.

This page was last updated on 10th Oct, 2014

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