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LINGUIST List 24.2741

Mon Jul 08 2013

Review: Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis: Paltridge (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>

Date: 16-May-2013
From: Inas Mahfouz <imahfouzacm.org>
Subject: Discourse Analysis
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-4099.html

AUTHOR: Brian Paltridge
TITLE: Discourse Analysis
SUBTITLE: An Introduction, Second Edition
SERIES TITLE: Discourse Analysis
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Inas Youssef Mahfouz, Ain Shams University

This is the second edition of Discourse Analysis: An Introduction, part of the
Bloomsbury Discourse Series. Ten chapters tackle various approaches to
discourse. The first chapter, “What is Discourse Analysis?”, surveys discourse
analysis, its origin, and the issues that interest discourse analysts. The
chapter also defines the relation between language and context, namely that
cultural differences influence how language is used. The chapter ends with a
discussion of social and textual views of discourse analysis.

Chapter 2, ''Discourse and Society'', tackles the notion of discourse
communities in depth. It examines the social and cultural aspects of spoken
and written discourse, reflecting on how users express their social identity
through language. The notions of gender and identity are thoroughly discussed
as important topics in the area of discourse and society. Partridge argues
that speakers have a linguistic repertoire from which they can make different
choices in different situations. The notion of ‘linguistic repertoire’,
introduced by John Gumperz in the early 1960s, refers to the fact that a
''speech style not only refers indexically to social categories but that it
can also be employed by speakers as a means of moving beyond normative and
constraining categorizations'' (Busch, 2012: 504).

The chapter focuses on gender and ideology as two manifestations of the use of
different linguistic choices in different social contexts. Gender differences
are not a natural consequence of one’s biological sex but they are acquired.
From birth men and women are taught and expected to do gender through their
use of language. Paltridge discusses identity and explains that language users
have different identities, and at certain times one identity is more important
than others. Identity is not natural, but rather constructed by language users
and recognized by others, described by Paltridge as ''a two-way construction''
(p. 24). The chapter ends with a discussion of discourse and ideology and how
language is influenced by social norms and values. Examining language with
reference to social and cultural background helps in understanding how
language is used to construct ideologies and perform processes.

Chapter 3, “Discourse and Pragmatics”, clarifies that both pragmatics and
discourse analysis share an interest in the relationship between language and
context and how language is used to perform different speech acts. The chapter
begins by defining pragmatics, illustrating its focus on linguistic form and
communicative function. Consequently, situational context, background
knowledge context, and co-text context are important to a proper understanding
of how language performs certain functions or speech acts. Paltridge explains
the relationship between Grice's cooperative principle and discourse.
According to Grice, people should observe four maxims in their interactions.
One should be truthful, brief, relevant, and clear, and any failure to observe
these maxims is considered a flouting or violation of the cooperative
principle. Paltridge goes on to illustrate cross cultural variation in
communication as exhibited by speech acts. Finally, the chapter concludes with
an explanation of two important notions in discourse analysis from a pragmatic
perspective, namely politeness and face. These two notions influence people's
preference for expressing something in one particular way rather than another.

In chapter 4, ''Discourse and Genre'', Paltridge provides details on genre,
its definition, and its types. Genre is ''a staged, goal-oriented, purposeful
activity in which speakers engage as members of our culture''. Rhetorical
genre studies consider genres from a social perspective where genres are not
only socially embedded but also socially constructive. The chapter also probes
into the relationship among genres, illustrating how the use of a certain
genre is dependent on and may trigger other interrelated ones. The chapter
proceeds to show how the use of written and spoken genres varies across
cultures and how this has attracted much attention from researchers. The
chapter ends with a note on genre analysis and its applications.

“Discourse and Conversation”, chapter 5, examines conversation analysis and
its value in understanding how speakers use language to construct their social
reality. Through the analysis of conversation several fine-grained features
pertaining to the relation between speakers can be illustrated. The chapter
also describes transcription and coding procedures. Paltridge gives a
transcribed extract to clarify the particular transcription conventions that
are used as part of conversation analysis where intonation, prolongation of
sounds, and stress matter. For example, underlining and the use of capitals
implies loud talk and word stress.

Paltridge provides a thorough review of conversation analysis, including
conversation strategies, preference organization, feedback, repair, discourse
markers, and second language conversation. The author discusses the various
strategies used by speakers in conversation such as opening and closing a
conversation, turn taking, and adjacency pairs. Adjacency pairs are ''composed
of an utterance that is a first pair part produced by one speaker directly
followed by the production by a different speaker of an utterance'' (Schegloff
& Sacks,1973: 74). Examples of adjacency pairs include: 'question-answer',
'greeting-greeting', and 'offer-acceptance/ refusal'. Other conversation
strategies that the chapter probes include feedback and repair. Feedback
refers to the way listeners express their attention to what is being said,
whereas repair refers to how speakers correct themselves or others. Finally,
Paltridge discusses some criticisms that have been made of conversation

In chapter 6, “Discourse Grammar”, Paltridge tackles the idea that grammar
discussions are no longer limited to sentences but extend to include discourse
as well. This is illustrated through focusing on two perspectives of discourse
grammar. The first is that expounded by Hughes and McCarthy (1998) which makes
a strong connection among form, function, and context. Linguistic choices and
the interpersonal factors affecting them gain special attention in this
approach. The second perspective concentrates on the unity of texture, or what
Paltridge defines as ''the way in which resources such as patterns of
‘cohesion’ create both cohesive and coherent texts'' (p. 114). Paltridge
continues with a discussion of cohesion and how it is usually created through
reference, repetition of certain lexical items, and collocation. The chapter
ends with a discussion of grammatical differences between spoken and written

Chapter 7, “Corpus Approaches to Discourse Analysis”, treats corpus-based
discourse studies. Paltridge starts by defining a corpus as ''collections of
texts that are usually stored and analysed electronically'' (p. 144). He then
goes on to illustrate the difference between general corpora and specialized
ones, the design and construction of corpora, and some issues involved in
their construction. The chapter focuses on The Longman Spoken and Written
English (LSWE) Corpus as an example of corpus study. The conversational data
in the corpus sheds light on the characteristics of conversational discourse
and its constructional characteristics. The chapter also makes clear that
corpus studies provide information on the social nature of discourse,
collocations, and academic writing. The chapter ends with a note on the
criticism that corpus studies are decontextualized and how this argument can
be refuted.

Chapter 8, entitled “Multimodal Discourse Analysis”, explains that texts are
no longer constructed just by words but by combinations of other modalities
such as pictures, videos, and sound. The author argues that the use of these
modalities make the reader more of a 'witness' of the events. The chapter
gives background information on multimodal discourse analysis and some
examples of it. The relation between multimodality, on one hand, and genre and
speech acts, on the other, is also examined. Finally, Paltridge outlines some
steps for carrying out multimodal discourse analysis and some of the
limitations of such analysis.

Chapter 9, “Critical Discourse Analysis”, gives an overview of how discourse
analysis unravels ''the connections between the use of language and the social
and political contexts in which it occurs'' (p. 186). It begins with
introducing the principles of critical discourse analysis, then moves on to a
discussion of doing it. Paltridge also highlights the relation between
critical discourse analysis and genre to clarify that certain genres are used
to achieve particular discourse goals. Critical discourse analysis also
examines how a text is introduced to its audience. Paltridge discusses how
some critical discourse analysis studies have used the World Wide Web in an
attempt to guarantee objectivity. Like most of the previous chapters, this
chapter ends by discussing criticisms directed at critical discourse analysis
and some ways of responding to them.

The last chapter, “Doing Discourse Analysis”, gives guidelines for planning
and carrying out discourse analysis projects. It explains how to zero in on a
research topic, turn a topic into a research question, and connect data
collection with analysis. Paltridge not only categorizes discourse analysis
projects into different kinds but also provides two sample studies. The
chapter concludes with a discussion of the issues involved in the evaluation
of discourse analysis projects.

The book is an invaluable reference for those interested in discourse
analysis. For beginners, it provides a lucid, graded explanation of discourse
analysis and different approaches to it including discourse and society,
discourse and pragmatics, discourse and genre, discourse grammar, corpus
approaches to discourse, and critical discourse analysis. In addition,
Paltridge includes a list of further readings at the end of each chapter and
an extensive glossary at the end of the book. For those who have a strong
background in discourse analysis, the book offers new perspectives on
traditional approaches to discourse, including an entire chapter dedicated to
multimodal discourse analysis. In addition, the variety of examples taken
from movies, television, and everyday conversation paves the way to
discovering areas that were once terra incognito.

From an educational point of view, the book is commendable for its
organization, extensive explanations, chapter summaries the main areas
covered, and exercises. All the chapters follow a systematic organization: the
chapter opens with theoretical background of the approach discussed, followed
by a discussion of important studies, and finally criticisms directed to this
particular approach are highlighted. The companion website offers resources
for both instructors and students. The data analysis projects and the
exercises given at the end of each chapter are quite useful to teachers.
Moreover, an answer key at the end of the book makes it appropriate for

Finally, students and researchers interested in discourse analysis should
possess a copy of the book. Though the subtitle labels it an introduction to
discourse analysis, the pages of the book provide simple yet shrewd coverage.
Paltridge's book is an invaluable addition to the reading list of beginners
and experienced discourse analysts.

Busch, B. (2012), ‘The Linguistic Repertoire Revisited’, Applied Linguistics,
33/5, 503-23. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Hughes, R. and McCarthy, M. (1998), ‘From sentence to discourse: discourse
grammar and English language teaching’, TESOL Quarterly, 32, 263-87.

Schegloff, E. and Sacks, H. (1973), ‘Opening up closings’, Semiotica, 7,

Inas Youssef Mahfouz is an assistant professor of Computational Linguistics at
Ain Shams University, Egypt. She has published several papers on the
computational analysis of language, lexicography and systemic functional
grammar. The outcomes of these publications include a Process Type Database
for Transitivity analysis, a database for sentiment analysis and an Arabic
Ontology of State Terrorism. Her research interests include discourse
analysis, computational linguistics, and Systemic Functional Linguistics.
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