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Teacher: Crisan Diana

Text versus Discourse

A text or a discourse is a stretch of language that may be longer than a sentence.
However, these units of language can consist of more sentences or of a single word as
long as they form a meaningful whole.
Firstly, in order to track down the meaning(s) of the two terms, more dictionaries
need to be consulted. Therefore, according to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary
English, discourse is a serious speech or piece of writing on a particular subject,
whereas, according to the Collins Concise English Dictionary, discourse is verbal
communication; a unit of text used by linguists for the analysis of linguistic phenomena
that range over more than one sentence(LDOCE).
Secondly, as far as the meaning(s) of text is(are) concerned, it is stated that text is
any written material; the writing that forms the main part of a book();the text of
something; the exact words of a speech, article ().In another words, the text is the
material manifestation of a discourse.
In order for a text to be well structured, it needs cohesion, which can be achieved when
writers organize their ideas so that they are intelligible enough to lead the readers to a
better understanding of their arguments. Cohesion gives unity to the written or spoken
discourse, holds together the information.
Cohesion gives readers the clues for discovering coherence (Wayne C. Booth&
Marshall W. Gregory) and it has multiple functions depending on the field in which it
appears.For example, it points out the fact that something is a text, i.e. the sentences in it
have a logical construction and they do not appear randomly.
Furthermore, cohesion is also based on grammar or meaning of the two parts of a
sentence. In this respect, the cohesive devices function as the glue that holds together the
different parts of a text, making easier the understanding of that particular piece of
writing. The devices order parts of a text, establish casual links, sustain topic continuity
and they establish bridging between distinct parts of a discourse.

Thirdly, coherence is another component that makes the text look more appealing.
Thus, the parts of a text are united because they share common aims, qualities or beliefs
in a very clear and reasonable way. Moreover, a text hangs together due to its coherence,
i.e. a coherent text contains certain words or expressions that make the connection
between the sentences and their ideas. In this way, the reader/the speaker can follow the
logical thread of the story.
The big parts of a story should stick together, but the small parts need some stickum as
well. When the big parts fit, we call that good feeling coherence; when sentences
connect, we call it cohesion (Roy Peter Clark)
The term discourse can be contrasted with another term , i.e.text. Text analysis
focuses on the structure of written language while discourse analysis focuses on the
structure of naturally occurring spoken language. Discourse is linguistic communication
seen as a transaction between speaker and hearer. Text, on the other hand is linguistic
communication (either spoken or written) seen simply as a message coded in its auditory
or visual medium. For some theorists, discourse is a text that contains internal
organization, coherence and cohesion. However, the text may be defined as the sentence
that is in front of us when an act of reading is in progress. Thereby, each sentence
represents a new beginning to the text and it also organizes language and the environment
for that particular location in the text. For this reason, the relationship between a sentence
and the previous text is made through the connection of that sentence with other states of
the text preceding it.
Last but not least, text and discourse analysis is one area of linguistics, the
systematic study of language. Grammar can also be taken into account because it has a
defining role:it deals with the structure of individual sentences. When analyzing,
grammar tells us if the combined words form an acceptable English sentence. Therefore,
text analysis is an essential part of discourse analysis, while the last one is all about
communication and all the modes texts are seeking to communicate.


1.Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 2003

2.Collins Concise English Dictionary 1988
3.Roy Peter Clark, Writing tools:50 essential strategies for Every Writer, Little,
4.Brown & Yule, Discourse Analysis, 1983
5.Wayne C. Booth & Marshall W. Gregory, The Harper&Row Rhetoric:Writing as
Thinking/Thinking as Writing, 1987
6.John Sinclair, Trust the text, language, corpus and discourse, 2004