By Sari Pietikäinen, FinlandAlexandra Jaffe, Long BeachHelen Kelly-Holmes, and Nikolas Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users."
This fascinating examination of the relations between grammar, text and discourse is designed to provoke genuinely critical discussion on key issues in discourse analysis which are not always clearly identified and examined. The enquiry into discourse analysis that Zellig Harris initiated 50 years ago raised a number of problematic issues that have remained unresolved ever since. What these are all centrally concerned with is the relationship between the analysis of the formal properties of text and the significance that is assigned to them in discourse interpretation. Widdowson explores this relationship and introduces the notion of pretext as an additional factor in the general interpretative process. He also focuses attention specifically on the work of critical discourse analysis (CDA) in the light of the issues discussed. The result is a stimulating volume that makes explicit the distinctions between the key concepts of text and discourse, and between context, co-text and pretext. It shows how these are related and can provide a theoretical frame of reference for the critical evaluation of current issues in discourse analysis.