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DISCOURSE ANALYSIS 1.

Historical backgrounds Discourse analysis studies language in use from the most informal texts (conversations) to the most formal ones (conferences and lectures). It began with the sociological approach in the 1960s, and later with the speech act theory in the 1970s, which formulated that human interaction depended on conversational maxims, such as greeting, asking and saying good-bye. These maxims were also viewed as the main emphasis by both the American and Prague traditions with the study of pragmatics (or about the intention of the speaker) formulated by Halliday and Van Dijk. 2. Form and function Regarding the analysis of form and function, we often meet with the possible (or expected) interpretation from the hearer to any utterance of the speaker. This depends on a lot of factors, including intonation and grammar. One example is from a popular comedy named Borat, which is about a Kazakhstani who observes and satirizes American culture, this time with a humour coach who teaches him about a very popular joke in America: You are so beautiful in that dress, NOT!

As we can notice, the original function of the sentence is to praise beauty (we pretend what we say is true). However, the contrast that the negation at the end of the phrase makes this entire sentence as a false statement. 3. Spoken discourse On the other hand, there are certain complications to analyse beyond the structural speech act-structure relationship, as there are many variations in human interaction. We have to take into account interruptions, hesitations and other variations in conversations. As an answer, discourse analysis has turned towards ethnosociology to study this phenomenon. It emphasises on the observation on how people orient to the demands of the speech event. One example can be one sudden interruption in a conversation in a bar. 4. Written discourse The same occurs with written discourse which is managed by two main aspects: coherence (when a text makes sense), and cohesion (when a text is well constructed). These same aspects seem to rule interpretation as well. We can say in a subordinate clause, for example, that a phone is gray and it makes long-distance calls, where it refers to the gray phone.

But, what happens when the reader is not familiarised with certain features of the phone, or most importantly, if the reader does not know cultural stereotypes? It is said that all Colombians are cocaine consumers. To make an accurate interpretation of this sentence, for instance, we need to be familiarised with the local context. In discourse analysis, interpretation is seen as a set of mental procedures to what both the readers and the writer put in their interaction. This clearly demonstrates that reading is also an active skill, for we need to activate our prior knowledge and deduction to construct an actual interpretation. 5. Conclusion In conclusion, we can see that discourse analysis has a wide range of action, including social interaction and mental interpretation of written and spoken texts. This growing science will undoubtedly influence language teaching to its more objective assessment to human interaction, and everything which it implies.