Ellie Cavalcanti

Exercise 1
Read the text and complete the definition table at the end:
Discourse analysis is concerned with the study of the relationship between language and the contexts in which it is used. It grew out of work in different disciplines in the 1960s and early 1970s, including linguistics, semiotics, psychology, anthropology and sociology. The linguistic philosophers such as Austin (1962) , Searle (1969) and Grice (1975) were influential in the study of language in social action, reflected in Speech Act Theory and the formulation of Conversational Maxims, alongside the emergence of pragmatics , which is the study of meaning in context (e.g. Levinson 1983 and Leech 1983 ). British discourse analysis was greatly influenced by M.A.K. Halliday's functional approach to language.
Discourse is language in use for communication and it is generally pre-supposed to be coherent (understandable). Discourse analysis is the search to discover what makes language coherent. Language rules - morphological, syntactic and semantic plus a "knowledge of the world" are required to understand discourse. Language as a formal system plus schemata - social, cultural, experiential and creative experiences are needed. i.e. social and psychological context is important for the understanding of language.
What implications does the analysis of discourse have for language learning and teaching? An understanding of the concepts of discourse will help you and your students read with deeper understanding and write with greater fluency. Language learners interacting with speakers of a target language must be exposed to language samples which observe social, cultural, and discourse conventions - or in other words, which are pragmatically appropriate. Speakers who do not use pragmatically appropriate language run the risk of appearing uncooperative at the least , or, more seriously , rude or insulting.
Let's look now at coherence and cohesion. These two terms are often confused as they both relate to how texts are constructed or held together. In the exam (and let's face it, that's why we're really interested in all this!) these two concepts are directly tested through a student produced text ( you would have to identify errors ) or through an authentic text (you would be asked to identify the features used in that text.)

This is the 'glue' that holds the text together. It is a difficult concept to define and is most obvious when it is absent.
e.g. The box contains on average 100 large paper clips. Applied linguistics then is not the same as linguistics. Just send 10 Guinness bottle tops.
The above is clearly not coherent. Coherence refers to the overall semantic structure of a text and its unity. For a text to have coherence the following conditions must be met:
1. Development - the presentation of ideas must be orderly and convey a sense of direction.
2. Continuity - there must be consistency of facts, opinions and writer perspective, as well as reference to previously mentioned ideas. Newly introduced ideas must be relevant.
3. Balance - a relative emphasis (main or supportive) must be accorded to each idea.
4. Completeness - the ideas presented must provide a sufficiently thorough discourse.

As well as the above we have to take genre (or text schema into consideration.) Different texts e.g. narratives, instructions, reports, business letters etc. reflect specific text structures or genres and will be judged by readers as more or less appropriate and coherent according to the closeness of the particular text's structure and the genre that is expected for that type of text.

Cohesion is complementary to coherence and refers to the linking relationships that are explicitly expressed in the surface structure of the text. Cohesion is achieved through a variety of lexical and grammatical relationships between items within sentences in the text. There are 5 main types of cohesive ties:
1. Reference. The children did not come because they wanted to stay at home.The reference can be made using a noun phrase or demonstrative adjective (Nominal Reference) e.g. One of his strengths is his patience. Or can be made by using a pronoun (Pronominal Reference - N.B. 3 types, see below.)
a) Anaphoric Reference : This is used for referents which refer backwards in a sentence or text. E.g. The apple on the table was rotten. It had been there for days.
b) Cataphoric Reference : Used for referents that refer forwards (think of a catapult throwing something forwards) E.g. He was wearing a shabby raincoat and pulled down fedora. The detective showed me his badge and proceeded to question me ……..
c) Exophoric reference : This is used for referents which refer outside the text (think of an exit). E.g. The shops were crowded and festive music played everywhere I went. It was three days away and there was incipient panic in the air.
2. Substitution. This is when a word previously used is referred to by substituting another word. E.g We wanted to buy some glasses and finally bought some French ones.
3. Ellipsis. This is when a previously stated word is subsequently left out as the context makes it clear what is being referred to. E.g. "Would you like to know a joke? I know hundreds ( of jokes )."
4. Conjunction. This is where a cohesive device, i.e. linking word, is used to tie ideas or concepts together. E.g. Although I studied all night, I still managed to fail the exam. (Sometimes known as discourse markers.)
5. Lexical. This is when words are repeated or synonyms (or near synonyms) used to tie together a piece of discourse. E.g. Henry presented her with his portrait of her. As it happened , she had always wanted a painting of herself. We must also consider superordination and hyponymy. Look at this lexical set : rose, lily, daisy, dandelion, flower, snapdragon. Flower is the superordinate; rose, lily, daisy, dandelion and snapdragon are hyponyms of flower and they are near synonyms of each other.
The lexical feature can be further divided by the way the lexis is used:
a ) Parallelism : This is where the same form of collocation is repeated in the text. E.g. A teacher is part educator and part parent as one tries to give social guidance. He or she is also part police officer ……..
b ) Lexical collocation : Where words are linked by collocation e.g. traditional values, broad minded, slow witted.
c ) Lexical sets : Where words are used from a set of lexis e.g. car, motor, steering wheel, driver, exhaust.
d ) Repetition : Where words or their different forms are repeated in the text e.g. teacher, teaching , teach, taught.

The combination of these patterns is called a text's lexical chain . This will differ for each text, but its presence will add to cohesion within the text.
Appropriate uses of cohesive devices, as described above, support the overall coherence of writing.

Now, use information from the text to complete the table below:

Discourse analysis  
  Language which observes social, cultural and discourse conventions.
  Glue that holds a text together. Overall semantic structure of a text.
  Orderly presentation of ideas which conveys a sense of direction.
  Reference made using a noun phrase or demonstrative adjective.
  Refers back in the text.
  Refers forward in the text.
Exophoric reference  
  A cohesive device i.e. a linking word that is used to tie ideas together.
  The name of a lexical set (a category word).
  A derivative of a superordinate e.g car, steering wheel, seat belt. Belt, steering wheel and seat are hyponyms of car.
  The same form of collocation is repeated in the text e.g. a teacher is part parent, part educator etc.
  Words linked by collocation e.g. small minded (not little minded) quick witted (not fast witted).
Lexical set  
  Words, or their different forms are repeated in the text.Being a teacher is not easy, teaching is a difficult job which requires a lot of patience. To teach teenagers is particularly difficult.

Exercise 2 - Referencing
Identify the different types of referencing being used in the following short texts.

1. It rained day and night for two weeks. The basement flooded and everything was under water. It spoilt all our calculations.

2. The trip would hardly have been noteworthy, except for the man who made it. In mid-July a powerful American financier flew to Mexico City for a series of talks with high ranking government officials.

3. The government are to blame for unemployment. The voters are no longer prepared to listen to platitudes and want action.

4. She claims Leo Tolstoy as a distant cousin. Her grandfather was Alexei Tolstoy - the famous 'Red Count' who sided with Lenin's revolutionaries. Now, Tatyana Tolstaya has put pen to paper, in her case to demonstrate that someone from her family can write.

Exercise 3 - Ellipsis and substitution
Identify examples of ellipsis in this extract.

Most students start each term with an award cheque. But by the time accommodation and food are paid for, books are bought, trips taken home and a bit of social life lived, it usually looks pretty emaciated.

The sentence below occurred in a letter of reference for someone applying for a job, written by a non-native speaker.
What mistake has the writer made, and what explanation might a language teacher offer to help the writer avoid the error in future?

If you require further information on the applicant, I would be pleased to do so.

Exercise 4 - Conjunction
Look at the text below and identify the conjunctions which link the sentences to each other.
Using the categories given below (based on Halliday and Hassan 1976), say what type of conjunctive relation is being signaled in each case.

1. Additive (e.g. and, in addition)
2. Adversative (e.g. but, however)
3. Causal (e.g. because, consequently)
4. Temporal (e.g. then, subsequently)

Wind power. Wave power. Solar power. Tidal power.
Whilst their use will increase they are unlikely to provide large amounts of economic electricity. Generally, the cost of harnessing their power is huge.
However, there is a more practical, reliable and economical way of ensuring electricity for the future. And that is through nuclear energy. It's not a new idea, of course. We've been using nuclear electricity for the last 30 years. In fact, it now accounts for around 20% of Britain's electricity production. And it's one of the cheapest and safest ways to produce electricity we know for the future.
What's more, world supplies of uranium are estimated to last for hundreds of years, which will give us more than enough time to develop alternatives if we need to.
So, while some people might not care about their children's future.
We do.