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Lejla Zejnilović, PhD

 Discourse analysis - the analysis of language in use.

 Discourse analysis – the investigation of what
language is used for.
 Transactional and interactional functions of
 Transactional function – the function which language
serves in the expression of 'content' .
 Interactional function- involved in expressing social
relations and personal attitudes.
(Brown and Yule 1983:1)
 The most important function of language is the
communication of information.
 Primarily transactional language – the language which
is used to convey 'factual or propositional information‘.
 In primarily transactional language we assume that
what the speaker (or writer) has primarily in mind is the
efficient transference of information.
 Language used in such a situation is primarily
'message-oriented '.
(Brown and Yule 1983:2)
 The use of language to establish and maintain social
 It is clearly the case that a great deal of everyday
human interaction is characterised by the primarily
interpersonal rather than the primarily transactional use
of language.
 Exemplification:
 ‘My goodness, it's cold’!
(Brown and Yule 1983:3)
 Spoken and written language
 Manner of production (Brown and Yule: 1983)
 Medium – “the overall distinction between linguistic
messages transmitted to their receivers via phonic or
graphic means, that is by sound or by writing” (McCarthy
and Carter 1994: 4).
 Written/spoken texts/complex medium
 Mode – “the choices that the sender makes as to whether
features normally associated with speech or writing shall be
included in the message, regardless of the medium in which
it is to be transmitted” (McCarthy and Carter 1994: 4).
 the syntax of spoken language is typically much less
structured than that of written language
 i. spoken language contains many incomplete
sentences, often simply sequences of phrases
 ii. spoken language typically contains rather little
 iii. in conversational speech, where sentential syntax
can be observed, active declarative forms are normally
(Brown and Yule 1983: 15)
 An extensive set of metalingual markers exists to mark
relationships between clauses (that complementisers, when/while
temporal markers, so-called 'logical connectors' like besides,
moreover, however, in spite of, etc.) (written language)
 In spoken language the largely paratactically organised chunks
are related by and, but, then and, more rarely, if.
 The speaker is typically less explicit than the writer: I'm so tired
(because) I had to walk all the way home. (spoken language)
 In written language rhetorical organisers of larger stretches of
discourse appear, like firstly, more important than and in
conclusion. These are rare in spoken language.
 (Brown and Yule 1983: 16)
 Heavily premodified noun phrases (written language)
 Sentences are generally structured in subject-predicate form
(written language)
 Topic-comment structure (spoken language):
 the cats + did you let them out
 The occurrence of passive constructions is relatively
infrequent in informal speech.
 Instead, active constructions with indeterminate group
agents are noticeable, as in:
 Oh everything they do in Edinburgh + they do it far too
(Brown and Yule 1983: 17)
 The speaker may rely on (e.g.) gaze direction to supply
a referent: (looking at the rain) frightful isn't it.
 The speaker may replace or refine expressions as he
goes along: this man + this chap she was going out
with .
 The speaker typically uses a good deal of rather
generalised vocabulary: a lot of, got, do, thing, nice,
stuff, place and things like that.
 (Brown and Yule 1983: 17)
 The speaker frequently repeats the same syntactic form
several times over, as this fairground inspector does: /
look at fire extinguishers : I look at fire exits + I look at
what gangways are available + I look at electric cables
what + are they properly earthed + are they properly
covered .
 The speaker may produce a large number of
prefabricated 'fillers': well, erm, I think, you know, if
you see what I mean, of course, and so on.
 (Brown and Yule 1983: 17)
 Monologue and dialogue
 Text typologies
 Field – What is happening? What is the text about?
 Tenor – Who are taking part?
 Mode – What is the language itself doing?
 Registers
 Genres
(Hallidy: 1989; McCarty and Carter 1994: 21; 24-34)
 Narrative genre
 Abstract – What is the going to be about?
 Orientation – Who are the participants? When and where
did the action take place? In which circumstances?
 Complicating action – Then what happened? What
problems occurred?
 Evaluation – What is the point of the story?
 Resolution – How did events sort themselves out? What
finally happened?
 Coda – What is the bridge between the events in the story
and the present situation of the narration?
 (Labov: 1972 in McCarty and Carter 1994:33)
 Brown G, Yule G 1983 Discourse analysis. Cambridge
University Press.
 McCarthy M, Carter R 1994 Language as Discourse.
Longman Group UK Limited.