Bou Franch, Patricia (ed) (2006) Ways into Discourse. Granada: Comares.


1. Contents



1 Choosing between will and be going to in English: A pragmatic   decision        

     Marianne Celce-Murcia

2   The Dictionary of Spanish Discourse Particles:  Progress Report               

Salvador Pons Bordería 

3 Lexical pragmatics and meaning negotiation in discourse: concept merging and ad hoc category construction    

Sergio Maruenda Bataller


4. Verbal abuse: An assault on self-esteem                             

Emma Sopeña Balordi                                                                

5. Solidarity and deference in computer-mediated communication: A discourse-pragmatic analysis of students’ emails to lecturers                                                                    

Patricia Bou-Franch                                                                  

6 Retheorising gender and politeness                                     

Sara Mills                                                                                  

7 Researching sexual language: Gender, (im)politeness and discursive construction    

 José Santaemilia      

SECTION III: CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS                                        

8 Private discourse within institutional discourse: Presentation of the self as a persuasive tool in

letters of application                                                                        

Rosana Dolón

9 The discourse of lifestyles in the broadcast media                1

Nuria Lorenzo-Dus    

10 Intercultural discourse analysis: Unravelling the true aims of political speeches  

U. Dagmar Scheu Lottgen & José Saura Sánchez


2. Organization of the book

(from the Preface by the Editor)

Taking discourse, therefore, as the main organising topic for this book, the volume contains ten contributions arranged into three main parts. Section I represents a linguistic approach to the analysis of discourse although the three different chapters it contains also tackle either the interpersonal and/or the cognitive aspects of discourse studies. Marianne Celce-Murcia, in chapter one, studies the linguistic units will and be going to as they are employed by real language users in discourse. The author suggests that when English users choose between will and be going to, they are making a pragmatically-motivated decision rather than a semantic or syntactic one  Two types of pragmatic decisions are discussed in the paper:  discourse-pragmatic and social-psychological motivations.  Discourse-pragmatic decisions involve those cases where the speaker’s choice of one of the target forms as a frame in an initial clause in the discourse (be going to) is subsequently elaborated by the other form (will/’ll) in the remainder of the discourse.  Social-psychological pragmatic choices involve situations where the social context (e.g. informality/politeness), the actual temporal context (directly related to present context/contingent on other events) or the speaker’s mental perception of an event (more probable/less probable) influence his/her choice of will or be going to.

In chapter two, Salvador Pons Bordería deals with lexicographical problems in the compilation of a Spanish dictionary of discourse markers, as used in naturally-occurring discourse data. The main purpose of the Spanish Dictionary of Discourse Markers is to provide a full description of discourse markers in Spanish, an endeavour unaccomplished so far in any language. A dictionary of this kind poses some interesting lexicographical problems, with regard to both its macro- and microstructure. Problems in the macrostructural level have to do with the range of words which have to be described. Problems in the microstructural level are related to the mismatch between lexicographical theory, created to define lexical word classes, such as nouns, adjectives or verbs, and the special needs of this dictionary, that is, to define words without a "lexical meaning". The author describes and justifies the solutions adopted in each case, showing both that the description of a discourse marker is a difficult task but also that it is possible to provide a working definition that allows the compilation of such dictionary.

The third and final chapter in section one addresses the problem of explaining the negotiation of meaning in discourse. Sergio Maruenda Bataller sets out to show how new research into natural language understanding within a relevance-theoretic lexical pragmatic framework is more flexible and has more explanatory potential than a heuristics approach in the sense of Levinson’s theory of Generalized Conversational Implicatures. This paper shows that in accounting for meaning in real instances of discourse, two new lexico-pragmatic processes need to be taken into account. The author explains and illustrates these and proposes to label them ‘concept merging’ and ‘ad hoc category construction’. In doing so, Sergio Maruenda touches on different aspects of discourse analysis.

Section two of this volume has four chapters and is dedicated to the investigation of interpersonal relations in discourse. In chapter four, Emma Sopeña Balordi approaches an interpersonal discourse study from the perspective of Neuro Linguistic Programming. The author explores the process of (verbal) domination of one individual over another through language, discourse and world perceptions. This study highlights the struggle and final liberation of individuals from abusive interpersonal relations. Testimonies and reports from French psychology support and illustrate each stage of the relationships that constitute the object of research in this chapter.

In chapter five, Patricia Bou Franch carries out an empirical research of the expression of solidarity and deference in a corpus of 30 emails sent by Spanish students in their own language to their university professors. The author sees electronic interactions as social encounters where interpersonal features abound. Electronic messages were found to be internally organised into opening, requesting and closing sequences; Politeness resources were mainly oriented towards involvement and solidarity during openings. However, in the requests proper, more deference mechanisms were found. Finally, closings also revealed three times as much patterns of deference and independence. The author concludes that the use of positive politeness and solidarity does not necessarily diminish the expression of respect in electronic socializing.

The next two chapters adopt a gender and politeness approach to the study of discourse. Sara Mills, in chapter six, theorises on social relations in discourse from feminist linguistics and linguistic politeness perspectives. The author claims that gender, politeness and impoliteness need to be analysed in greater complexity; this, she argues, can only be done at the level of discourse. This chapter explains how the sociological notion community of practice provides a framework for dealing with the ways in which individuals perform their gendered identities through politeness in ongoing discourse.

In chapter seven, José Santaemilia focuses on the study of the signification of sexual language in several Western European languages and cultures –British, Spanish and Catalan. The study of sexual language, almost unlike any other, brings together various disciplines and perspectives: speech acts, literary genres and traditions, registers, ideological phenomena such as censorship or impoliteness, erotic stimulation, and so on. This study involves dealing with aesthetic appraisal and pragmatic analysis, shame and erotic pleasure, ritual celebration of in-group membership or sexist degradation. This area of research is broad and largely unexplored and the author suggests several lines of investigation that focus on the language of sex and with an emphasis on its richness and diversity.

The final section of this book is devoted to Critical discourse analysis; it comprises three different chapters. Rosana Dolón, in chapter 8, analyses a corpus of authentic letters of application in English from the perspective of social psychology and critical discourse analysis. The author exposes applicants’ delicate position in constructing letters: while the discourse community and the institutional genre impose restrictions on the discourse practice, inasmuch as the applicant is required to make his/her discourse match the formal and functional expectations, the writer has to “sell” him/herself, constructing both a promotional and a persuasive discourse in an endeavour to present him/herself as the ideal employee. While being required to prove excellence in his/her abilities, the applicant is simultaneously expected to express modesty. Self-effacing and self-enhancing strategies are consequently triggered off at the same time. The author analyses this dynamic process of self-presentation as a persuasive tool.

Chapter nine uses a multi-modal analysis approach to examine the construction and promotion of certain lifestyles in the mass media. Nuria Lorenzo-Dus draws upon an extensive corpus of relevant broadcast material in the United Kingdom (UK), and identifies and discusses the various signs and images around the domain of the home that this popular variety of the lifestyle television genre uses in order to showcase desirable lifestyles. These include the ideas that: (1) purchasing a desirable lifestyle is easy for ordinary people because it takes little time, effort and capital; (2) desirable lifestyles fit socially-defined, and socially-defining, groups in the UK; and (3) desirable lifestyles revolve around clear demarcations of physical space within the home that correspond to  socially sanctioned lifestyle activities. Through the analysis of the discourse of these shows the author highlights the role of the media in the promotion not only of the consumption of material but also of symbolic goods and services.

The final chapter of this section and of the whole volume addresses the issue of political discourses. Dagmar Scheu Lottgen and José Saura Sánchez introduce the notion of Intercultural Discourse Analysis (IDA) as a new attempt to deal with intercultural communication and the possible consequences of intercultural conflict. The main aim of IDA is to highlight discursive strategies employed by the participants to maintain their power position in intercultural interaction. To do this, the authors draw on concepts from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and other fields such as Cultural Studies, the Ethnography of Communication, and Critical Linguistics. The authors study how the deployment of certain discursive strategies mirrors cultural, ideological and political worldview differences and/or similarities that enhance participants’ (Bush and Bin Laden) efforts to gain and keep a dominant position in intercultural interaction. The insights obtained into intercultural discourse ultimately serve the goal not only of attaining a better understanding of conflicting discourses but also of achieving a more critical attitude towards the goals of our political leaders.


Ways into discourse enacts the above mentioned variety of theoretical frameworks, data and methodology: the contributions in this volume, while being cohesive around the notions of discourse and discourse analysis, draw on social pragmatics, relevance theory, politeness studies, social psychology, and cultural studies. Furthermore, in the different chapters the analysis focuses on therapeutic discourse, electronic discourse, sexual language, letters of application, televised discourses and political speeches. Additionally, there is a continuous two-way interaction between theory and practice: theoretical viewpoints are tested against discursive data and, simultaneously, the data helps shape and refine theoretical frameworks. For example, in chapter two the analysis of naturally-occurring discourse data (discourse markers) contributes to solve lexicographical problems. The theorisation of gender and politeness in chapter six, bears upon the analyses carried out in other chapters (four and seven). And so, this rich dialectical relationship between theory and data, and the cross-disciplinary nature of discourse analysis make it a fertile and productive area of research of which this volume is a sample.

The broad scope and methodological diversity of discourse analysis has sometimes been questioned. However, I strongly argue that this diversity is its greatest strength. Discourse is the window into the world of linguistic, social, cognitive and ideological processes that allows us, discourse analysts, to study what is going on in linguistic communication. If life and real world experiences are enormously complex, and varied and rich, the analysis of discourse, through which individuals relate their life and world experiences, could hardly be expected to be simple and straightforward.



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