Discourse analysis or DA for short, also known as discourse studies, is an approach that is used for the analysis of written, vocal, or sign language use, or any major semiotic event.
The objects of discourse analysis whether it is in the realm of discourse, conversation, communicative, or writing event, are defined with respect to coherent sequences of sentences, speech, turns-at-talk, or propositions. Unlike what most traditional linguistics may believe, discourse analysts do not only study a language that uses ‘beyond the sentence boundary’ but also prefer to analyze the use of naturally occurring language, and not just invented examples. Text linguistics is a field that is closely related to discourse analysis. The essential difference between text linguistics and discourse analysis is that the latter aims at showing the socio-psychological characteristics of a person instead of text structure.
Discourse analysis has been taken up in a number of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, especially in the fields of:
- Social work
- Cognitive psychology
- Social psychology
- Area studies
- Cultural studies
- International relations
- Human geography
- Environmental science
- Communication studies
- Biblical studies
- Public relations
- Argumentation studies
- Translation studies, and so on.
Each one of these is subject to its own assumptions, dimensions of analysis, and methodologies.
Topics of interest in this field include:
- The several levels or dimensions of discourse, like sounds, gestures, the lexicon, style, syntax, rhetoric, speech acts, meanings, moves, turns, strategies, and other aspects of interaction
- Genres of discourse
- The relations between text and context
- The relations between discourse and the emergence of syntactic structure
- The relations between discourse and interaction
- The relations between discourse and cognition and memory
- The relations between discourse and power
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