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 Language use is functional

• function: taking part in interaction

• function: creating well-formed and appropriate text
• function: representing thought and experience in a
coherent way
• discourse analysis: investigating the form and function of what
is said and written
 (written text has no immediate interactive feedback, therefore
more explicit structural mechanisms are necessary for the
organization of text)
 covers an extremely wide range of activities from the narrowly
focused investigation of how words such as 'oh' or 'well' are used in
casual talk, to the study of the dominant ideology in a culture as
represented, for example, in its educational or political practices.
 linguistic discourse analysis focuses on the record of the process by
which language is used in some context to express intention

 what makes text?

• explicit connections between sentences in a text that create
• elements of textual organization that are characteristic of
storytelling, expressing an opinion, etc.

 the pragmatic perspective of discourse analysis specialized on

aspects of what is (or unwritten) but yet communicated
 go beyond primarily social concerns of interaction and
conversation analysis, look behind forms and structures, and pay
more attention to psychological concepts, such as

 what does the speaker/writer have in mind?

 assumption of for all language users: what is
said/written will make sense in terms of their normal experience of
things (locally interpreted and tied to the familiar and expected)

• Plant Sale
• Garage Sale
 identical structure, but different interpretation, requires familiarity
with suburban life

 listeners tend to make instant interpretations of familiar material,

not always thinking about possible alternatives
How many animals of each type did Moses take on the ark?
 if you thought of 'two' you immediately accessed some common
cultural knowledge, without noticing that 'Moses' was
 listeners may even create coherent interpretations for texts that do
not potentially have it

A motor vehicle accident was reported in front of Kennedy Theater

involving a male and a female
 automatically filling in details (e.g., person) to create coherence

Man robs hotel with sandwich

 create a scenario to make sense of the situation
- man used sandwich in bag to pose as gun?
- man eating sandwich while robbing hotel?
 Automatic interpretations are based on pre-existing knowledge
structures (familiar patterns from previous experiences used to
interpret new experiences)
 : a pre-existing knowledge structure in memory
 : fixed, static pattern

 A frame shared by everyone in a social group is

• Apartment for rent: $ 500. 763-6683
• 'apartment for rent' advertisement frame
• $ 500 per month not per year or per week
 : pre-existing knowledge structure involving event sequences
• I stopped to get some groceries, but there weren't any baskets
left so by the time I arrived at the
• check-out counter I must have looked like a juggler having a
bad day
 script for getting groceries involves having a basket, going to the
check-out counter etc.

 everything not mentioned is assumed to be shared

• (going through a door, walking around, picking up items from

 for members of different cultures the assumption of a shared script
can lead to miscommunication
 : background knowledge structures for making
sense of the world are culturally determined
 Situation: Australian factory supervisor assumes that workers
know that Easter is close and that therefore everyone will have a
holiday. Question to Vietnamese worker:
You have five days off. What are you going to do?
(Vietnamese worker may think he is being laid off)

 : study of differences in expectations

based on cultural schemata
 The concepts and terminology provided so far provide a basic
analytic framework, but the realization of those concepts may
differ substantially from English
 there might even be a cultural preference for NOT saying what
you believe to be the case (vs. the cooperative principle,
different quantity or quality maxims)
 different turn-taking mechanisms in different cultures
 different interpretations of speech acts

e.g., American style of complimenting creates embarassment for

Native Americans (perceived as excessive) or perceived as an
apology by Japanese listeners (and thus impossible to accept)

: study of different cultural ways of speaking


Speech acts
 In English offers can be made in the form of questions (‘Would you
like another beer?’), this is not used in Polish (instead: direct
 Anglo-American apologies for an offence include
acknowledgement of fault, Japanese ones do not (preferring to
offer a remedy)
 Anglo-American apologies for refusing an invitation have
precise explanation, Japanese ones remain vague

 Javanese: achieve harmony and peaceful relations by
concealing feelings, wants and thoughts (pretense)
 Anglo-American: ‘white lies’ so as not to offend someone
 Polish/German: honesty valued as a sign of friendship, no well-
meaning lie
 Japanese speakers avoid confrontation (never say ‘you’re
wrong’, ‘that’s not true’)
Example situations:
 Korean student helps Anglo-American tutor with computer
K: Do you know how to use this program?
A: Approximately ( )
 K assumes A knows nothing

 A German student disagrees with a Chinese student (

- the German student voices disagreement directly, even
highlights dissent (‘No, no, that’s not right’)
- the Chinese speaker signals consent before indicating
disagreement (‘I believe not, but I must say there is’).
- the Chinese speaker concedes the argument to end the
 the Chinese speaker perceives the German speaker as aggressive
 the German speaker perceives the Chinese speaker as boring (or
 in business negotiations Anglo-American business people prefer
close, friendly, egalitatarian relationships, symmetrical solidarity,
using first names from the beginning.

 Asians prefer , and to keep surnames.

They invent Western first names to get around the insistence on
first names and reserve their Chinese first name for intimates

Discourse structure
 East Asian inductive style: start with topic/background, then
move to main point
 Western deductive style: start with main point, then give reasons
: communicative behavior of non-native
speakers (pragmatic accent)
- often difficulties with indirect speech acts
- lack of politeness forms, e.g. when learning/using Japanese