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Running Head: DISCOURSE COMMUNITIES AND INTERTEXTUALITY RELATIONS

Discourse Communities and Intertextuality Relations

Donivan Ortega

The University of Texas at El Paso


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John Swales defined discourse communities as groups that have goals or

purposes, and use communication to achieve these goals. People often have a

misunderstood conception when it comes to discourse communities. Being that discourse

communities typically have sited discussions within academic contexts people view them

to be exclusively associated with intellectual paradigms or scholarly cliques but this is

not true, discourse communities only have to fall under the characters Swales described.

University of Texas at El Pasos Track and Field team is anything but ordinary. This

group in particular has gained an excessive amount of attention and exposure due to the

way they compete and perform. All members affiliated with this group have a shared

common goal, which involves not only winning but also exceling and becoming a better

athlete as well. The Track and Field team posses a unique bond amongst the athletes,

coaches and staff which enables them to communicate efficiently and effortlessly. John

Swales defined discourse communities as groups that have goals or purposes, and use

communication to achieve these goals, when you speak discourse communities you speak

UTEP Track and Field.

From reading John Swales discourse community, you are able to see that there are

six main characteristics that make up a discourse community. A discourse community has

a broadly agreed set of common public goals. A discourse community has mechanisms of

intercommunication among its members. A discourse community uses its participatory

mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. A discourse community

utilizes and hence possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its

aims. In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired a specific lexis.
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And a discourse community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of

relevant content and discoursal expertise (John Swales, 1990, The Concept of Discourse

Community.) As I was exploring for a discourse community these characteristics are

what made me stumble upon UTEP Track and Field. One of the important and complex

characteristics is genre, type of texts that are recognizable to readers and writers and meet

the needs of the rhetorical situations in which they function. Swales goes on to say that

these genres develop over time in responds to recurring rhetorical needs, all discourse

communities use genres and develop their own convections for the genres in light of their

desired goals (John Swales, 1990, The Concept of Discourse Community, 471.)

Intertextuality and discourse communities have links when it comes to writing

structures. Porter claims that all texts are interdependent, meaning that almost all and

every text refers to other texts traces and codes, there is a lack of originality for using

these text to develop a new text specific for a discourse community. For example, with

Jefferson and the declaration of independence went through other hands of congress who

made changes and revised so for him to claim as his exclusive authorship would be a

false statement. If Jefferson were to submit the declaration as his own work for a college

writing class he would be faced with plagiarism (James E. Porter, 1986, Intertextuality

and the Discourse Community 36,37.) The creative writer is the creative borrower, there

are many misconceptions categorizing discourse communities to being communities who

are exclusively associated with intellectual paradigms or scholarly cliques but that is not

always the case (John Swales, 1990, The Concept of Discourse Community, 473.)

Discourse communities can be any group that follows the principals and characteristics of
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one; the UTEP track and field team is a perfect example of a discourse community and

how it isnt a intellectual paradigm but yet still has all of the characteristics, principals

and values Swales uses to label a discourse community.

The UTEP Track and Field team is infamous for the phenomenal athletes it has

produced and continues to produce over the years. There has been countless Olympians,

NCAA Title holders, All-Americans and World National Team athletes that have come

out of UTEP. It would be oblivious of a person to try and overlook the mechanisms of

intercommunication the team has among its members. It is understood by all the athletes

what is expected of them and what it is they must do in order to get there. The naked ear

would not be able to understand the specific lexis this group has. For example when at

the track you may hear the coaches telling the athletes to spike up for some strike drills

this means that the athletes need to put on their competition shoes which inevitably have

spikes in them so that they can start their strike drills which is basically a gradual build

up into a sprint pace with proper form and technique. The Drive Phase is also

associated with the strike drill as this is when athletes are properly applying down force

to the ground with each step allowing them to drive their legs off the ground in a forceful

motion. They use participatory mechanisms to provide feedback by practicing timed runs.

For example you have a 400-meter runner that runs a 48 second 400. In practice you are

going to have him run a variation of run but you will be focusing on his 200 meter times

and 400 meter times to track his progression through the season. If by the end of the

season he wants to be running 44 second 400 meter he needs to cut down 4 total seconds

which can be subdivided into cutting down 2 seconds each 200 meters. This is a way the
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coaches and athletes use participatory mechanisms to provide some sort of feedback on

the athlete. Being that a collegiate career is no longer than 4-5 years there is always

change when it comes to the discourses members. With UTEP you have athletes going

pro and signing contracts and then athletes being recruited and coming in so frequently

that their community has a threshold level of members with a suitable degree of

discoursal expertise.

University of El Pasos Track and Field team is the perfect example to use when it

comes to observing and describing discourse communities. When you are at the track

with them and around the coaches you can feel a certain vibe. Each and every one of their

members is striving to become a better athlete and they are all so eager to find new ways

into helping contribute to the team. The specific lexis they have developed and use in

specific for their discourse can become confusing at times but being around them will

consistently you will grow accustom to it. It is very evident this discourse community

has mechanisms of inter communication among its members along with agreed set of

common public goals. When using Swales characteristics to describe this discourse it

wasnt hard to draw the connections. Swales made these characteristics in order to make

a conceptualization of discourse communities, can you not only find a discourse

community virtually anywhere but you can also create one.


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References

John Swales. The Concept of Discourse Community Genre Analysis: English in

Academic and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32.

James E. Porter. Intertextuality and the Discourse Community Rhetoric Review, Vol.

5, No. 1 (Autumn 1986), pp. 34-47