MA Class of JJ Weber – Some notes so far

Discourse Analysis – J J Weber – 22.10.09

We received an outline of our 4 sessions together, 12hours

« Languages don’t exist », but there are only varieties of languages. “For linguists there is no distinction between language and dialect.” Political aspects enter the arena.

Folk view : Language

Dialect 1 – Dialect 2 speaking dialect Is bad, not speaking standard language.

Linguistic view: eg: English, people speak a variety of English.

What are linguistic issues? Linguistic reality reflects variety.

What is the difference between a language and a dialect? Different grammatical rules, nothing more logical than another one. If chosen, then for political reasons.

Linguistics wants to describe the variety of language findings.

James Paul Gee: An Introduction to Discourse Analysis 1999 (Chapters 1-6, esp. ch.6) is a seminal work in the field of discourse analysis.

Info about JP Gee: Good article here: , born 1948. Tags: Video Games; language on demand; Discourse/discourse; New Literacy;

Situated Language: In Gee’s view, language is always used from a perspective and always occurs within a context. There is no ‘neutral’ use of language. Meaning is socially-constructed within Discourse communities.

Norman Fairclough, 1989 Language and Power: Wiki: Fairclough’s line of study, also called textually oriented discourse analysis or TODA, to distinguish it from philosophical enquires not involving the use of linguistic methodology, is specially concerned with the mutual effects of formally linguistic textual properties, sociolinguistic speech genres, and formally sociological practices. The main thrust of his analysis is that, if —according to Foucaultian theory— practices are discursively shaped and enacted, the intrinsic properties of discourse, which are linguistically analysable, are to constitute a key element of their interpretation. He is thus interested in how social practices are discursively shaped, as well as the subsequent discursive effects of social practices.

Language and Power (1989; now in a revised second edition 2001) explored the imbrications[1] between language and social institutional practices and of "wider" political and social structures. In the book Fairclough developed the concept of synthetic personalisation to account for the linguistic effects providing an appearance of direct concern and contact with the individual listener in mass-crafted discourse phenomena, such as advertising, marketing, and political or media discourse.[4][5] This is seen as part of a larger-scale process of technologisation of discourse, which englobes the increasingly subtle technical developments in the field of communication that aim to bring under scientifically regulated practice semiotic fields that were formerly considered suprasegmental, such as patterns of intonation, the graphic layout of text in the page or proxemic data.

His book New Labour, New Language? looks at the rhetoric used by the political party New Labour in the United Kingdom.

His style of writing is often percieved as long-winded and frustratingly descriptive with a tendency to use too many clauses within his sentence structures.

Influences: Fairclough’s theories have been influenced by Mikhail Bakhtin and Michael Halliday on the linguistic field, and ideology theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu on the sociological one.

Wodak, Ruth and M. Meyer (eds) 2002 Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis, London, Sage. Wiki:

The single shared assumption uniting CDA practitioners is that language and power are entirely linked.


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