Learn more about Discourse analysis
Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken or signed language use.
The objects of discourse analysis—discourse, text, talk, conversation, communicative event, etc.—are variously defined in terms of coherent sequences of sentences, propositions, speech acts or turns-at-talk. Contrary to much of traditional linguistics, discourse analysts not only study language use 'beyond the sentence boundary', but also prefer to analyze 'naturally occurring' language use, and not invented examples.
Discourse analysis has been taken up in a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, sociology, cognitive psychology, social psychology and communication studies, each of which is subject to its own assumptions and methodologies.
The term discourse analysis first entered general use as the title of a paper published by Zellig Harris in 1952, although that paper did not yet offer a systematic analysis of linguistic structures 'beyond the sentence level'.
As a new cross-discipline DA began to develop in the late 1960s and 1970s in most of the humanities and social sciences, more or less at the same time, and in relation with, other new (inter- or sub-) disciplines, such as semiotics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics.
Whereas earlier studies of discourse, for instance in text linguistics, often focused on the abstract structures of (written) texts, many contemporary approaches, especially those influenced by the social sciences, favor a more dynamic study of (spoken, oral) talk-in-interaction.
 Topics of interest
Topics of interest to discourse analysts include:
- The various levels or dimensions of discourse, such as sounds (intonation, etc.), gestures, syntax, the lexicon, style, rhetoric, meanings, speech acts, moves, strategies, turns and other aspects of interaction
- Genres of discourse (various types of discourse in politics, the media, education, science, business, etc.)
- The relations between discourse and the emergence of sentence syntax
- The relations between text (discourse) and context
- The relations between discourse and power
- The relations between discourse and interaction
- The relations between discourse and cognition and memory
The following are some of the specific theoretical perspectives and analytical approaches used in linguistic discourse analysis:
- Text grammar (or 'discourse grammar')
- Stylistics (linguistics)
- Interactional sociolinguistics
- Ethnography of communication
- Pragmatics, particularly speech act theory
- Conversation analysis
- Variation analysis
- Applied linguistics
- Cognitive psychology, often under the label discourse processing, studying the production and comprehension of discourse.
- Discursive psychology
- Critical discourse analysis
Although these approaches emphasizes different aspects of language use, they all view language as social interaction, and are concerned with the social contexts in which discourse is embedded.
Often a distinction is made between 'local' structures of discourse (such as relations between sentences, propositions or turns), and 'global' structures, such as the overall topics and the schematic organization of the discourse or conversation as a whole. For instance many discourse types begin with some kind of 'summary', for instance in titles, headlines, leads, abstracts, and so on.
 Some prominent analysts
Robert de Beaugrande, Michael Billig, Jan Blommaert, Adriana Bolivar, Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard, Wallace Chafe, Paul Chilton, Guy Cook, Malcolm Coulthard, Paul Drew, Alessandro Duranti, Norman Fairclough, Tom Givón, Charles and Candy Goodwin, Art Graesser, John Heritage, Janet Holmes, Paul Hopper, Gail Jefferson, Barbara Johnstone, Walter Kintsch, Adam Jaworski, Celia Kitzinger, Robert E. Longacre, Dominique Maingueneau, Jim Martin, Elinor Ochs, Jonathan Potter, Manny Schegloff, Deborah Schiffrin, John Swales, Deborah Tannen, Sandra Thompson, Teun A. van Dijk, Ingedore Grunfeld Villaça Koch, Theo van Leeuwen, Jef Verschueren, Henry Widdowson, Carla Willig, Ruth Wodak, among many others.
- Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Gee, J. P. (2005). An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. London: Routledge.
- Jaworski, A. and Coupland, N. (eds). (1999). The Discourse Reader. London: Routledge.
- Johnstone, B. (2002). Discourse analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Longacre, R. (1996). The grammar of discourse. New York: Plenum Press.
- Renkema, J. (2004). Introduction to discourse studies. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
- Schiffrin, D., Deborah Tannen, & Hamilton, H. E. (eds.). (2001). Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Teun A. van Dijk, (ed). (1997). Discourse Studies. 2 vols. London: Sage.
 External links
 See also
- Critical Discourse Analysis
- Stylistics (linguistics)de:Diskursanalyse