LINGUIST List 12.2858

Wed Nov 14 2001

Disc: New: Relationship Between Text & Discourse

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Richard Badger, Text and discourse

Message 1: Text and discourse

Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 17:01:17 -0000
From: Richard Badger <>
Subject: Text and discourse

What is the relationship between text and discourse?

This question was raised in the recent debate in Applied Linguistics
between Widdowson and De Beaugrande involved a dispute about the
relationship between text and discourse. Widdowson sees the two as
distinction. My reading of his position is that discourse is text in
use but that texts in corpora or presumably other linguistic
collections of language are not discourse. Texts need to be 'brought
to life' to become discourse.

The texts which are collected in a corpus have a reflected reality
they are only real because of the presupposed reality of the
discourses of which they are a trace. This is decontextualised
language which is why it is only partially real. page 5 Widdowson,
H. G. (2000). On the Limitations of Linguistics Applied. Applied
Linguistics, 21(1), 3-25.

De Beaugrande argues that a text cannot be contextualised only shifted
into a different context. A real text cannot be decontextualised, that
is, removed from any context; we can only shift it into a different
context, which is an ordinary transaction not just in language
classrooms, but in most reports or discussions of what somebody has
said. (de Beaugrande page 114 from de Beaugrande,
R. (2001). Interpreting the discourse of HG Widdowson: a corpus-based
critical discourse analysis. Applied Linguistics, 22(1), 104-121.

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