LINGUIST List 24.2741

Mon Jul 08 2013

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

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

Date: 16-May-2013
From: Inas Mahfouz <>
Subject: Discourse Analysis
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Book announced at

AUTHOR: Brian PaltridgeTITLE: Discourse AnalysisSUBTITLE: An Introduction, Second EditionSERIES TITLE: Discourse AnalysisPUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Inas Youssef Mahfouz, Ain Shams University

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

Chapter 2, ''Discourse and Society'', tackles the notion of discoursecommunities in depth. It examines the social and cultural aspects of spokenand written discourse, reflecting on how users express their social identitythrough language. The notions of gender and identity are thoroughly discussedas important topics in the area of discourse and society. Partridge arguesthat speakers have a linguistic repertoire from which they can make differentchoices 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 itcan also be employed by speakers as a means of moving beyond normative andconstraining categorizations'' (Busch, 2012: 504).

The chapter focuses on gender and ideology as two manifestations of the use ofdifferent linguistic choices in different social contexts. Gender differencesare 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 theiruse of language. Paltridge discusses identity and explains that language usershave different identities, and at certain times one identity is more importantthan others. Identity is not natural, but rather constructed by language usersand recognized by others, described by Paltridge as ''a two-way construction''(p. 24). The chapter ends with a discussion of discourse and ideology and howlanguage is influenced by social norms and values. Examining language withreference to social and cultural background helps in understanding howlanguage is used to construct ideologies and perform processes.

Chapter 3, “Discourse and Pragmatics”, clarifies that both pragmatics anddiscourse analysis share an interest in the relationship between language andcontext and how language is used to perform different speech acts. The chapterbegins by defining pragmatics, illustrating its focus on linguistic form andcommunicative function. Consequently, situational context, backgroundknowledge context, and co-text context are important to a proper understandingof how language performs certain functions or speech acts. Paltridge explainsthe 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 observethese maxims is considered a flouting or violation of the cooperativeprinciple. Paltridge goes on to illustrate cross cultural variation incommunication as exhibited by speech acts. Finally, the chapter concludes withan explanation of two important notions in discourse analysis from a pragmaticperspective, namely politeness and face. These two notions influence people'spreference 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, purposefulactivity in which speakers engage as members of our culture''. Rhetoricalgenre studies consider genres from a social perspective where genres are notonly socially embedded but also socially constructive. The chapter also probesinto the relationship among genres, illustrating how the use of a certaingenre is dependent on and may trigger other interrelated ones. The chapterproceeds to show how the use of written and spoken genres varies acrosscultures and how this has attracted much attention from researchers. Thechapter ends with a note on genre analysis and its applications.

“Discourse and Conversation”, chapter 5, examines conversation analysis andits value in understanding how speakers use language to construct their socialreality. Through the analysis of conversation several fine-grained featurespertaining to the relation between speakers can be illustrated. The chapteralso describes transcription and coding procedures. Paltridge gives atranscribed extract to clarify the particular transcription conventions thatare used as part of conversation analysis where intonation, prolongation ofsounds, and stress matter. For example, underlining and the use of capitalsimplies loud talk and word stress.

Paltridge provides a thorough review of conversation analysis, includingconversation strategies, preference organization, feedback, repair, discoursemarkers, and second language conversation. The author discusses the variousstrategies used by speakers in conversation such as opening and closing aconversation, turn taking, and adjacency pairs. Adjacency pairs are ''composedof an utterance that is a first pair part produced by one speaker directlyfollowed 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 conversationstrategies that the chapter probes include feedback and repair. Feedbackrefers 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 conversationanalysis.

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

Chapter 7, “Corpus Approaches to Discourse Analysis”, treats corpus-baseddiscourse studies. Paltridge starts by defining a corpus as ''collections oftexts that are usually stored and analysed electronically'' (p. 144). He thengoes on to illustrate the difference between general corpora and specializedones, the design and construction of corpora, and some issues involved intheir construction. The chapter focuses on The Longman Spoken and WrittenEnglish (LSWE) Corpus as an example of corpus study. The conversational datain the corpus sheds light on the characteristics of conversational discourseand its constructional characteristics. The chapter also makes clear thatcorpus studies provide information on the social nature of discourse,collocations, and academic writing. The chapter ends with a note on thecriticism that corpus studies are decontextualized and how this argument canbe refuted.

Chapter 8, entitled “Multimodal Discourse Analysis”, explains that texts areno longer constructed just by words but by combinations of other modalitiessuch as pictures, videos, and sound. The author argues that the use of thesemodalities make the reader more of a 'witness' of the events. The chaptergives background information on multimodal discourse analysis and someexamples of it. The relation between multimodality, on one hand, and genre andspeech acts, on the other, is also examined. Finally, Paltridge outlines somesteps for carrying out multimodal discourse analysis and some of thelimitations of such analysis.

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

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

EVALUATION:The book is an invaluable reference for those interested in discourseanalysis. For beginners, it provides a lucid, graded explanation of discourseanalysis and different approaches to it including discourse and society,discourse and pragmatics, discourse and genre, discourse grammar, corpusapproaches to discourse, and critical discourse analysis. In addition,Paltridge includes a list of further readings at the end of each chapter andan extensive glossary at the end of the book. For those who have a strongbackground in discourse analysis, the book offers new perspectives ontraditional approaches to discourse, including an entire chapter dedicated tomultimodal discourse analysis. In addition, the variety of examples takenfrom movies, television, and everyday conversation paves the way todiscovering areas that were once terra incognito.

From an educational point of view, the book is commendable for itsorganization, extensive explanations, chapter summaries the main areascovered, and exercises. All the chapters follow a systematic organization: thechapter opens with theoretical background of the approach discussed, followedby a discussion of important studies, and finally criticisms directed to thisparticular approach are highlighted. The companion website offers resourcesfor both instructors and students. The data analysis projects and theexercises 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 forself-study.

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

REFERENCESBusch, 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: discoursegrammar and English language teaching’, TESOL Quarterly, 32, 263-87.

Schegloff, E. and Sacks, H. (1973), ‘Opening up closings’, Semiotica, 7,289-437.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERInas Youssef Mahfouz is an assistant professor of Computational Linguistics atAin Shams University, Egypt. She has published several papers on thecomputational analysis of language, lexicography and systemic functionalgrammar. The outcomes of these publications include a Process Type Databasefor Transitivity analysis, a database for sentiment analysis and an ArabicOntology of State Terrorism. Her research interests include discourseanalysis, computational linguistics, and Systemic Functional Linguistics.

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