What is a text?
Write a brief definition of what a text
is.
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Is this a text?
[email protected]
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What do the images on the
following slides represent?
Decide whether they constitute a
text or not.
Justify your answer.
“Text can be used for both written and
spoken language. It usually refers to a
stretch, an extract or complete piece of
writing or speech. Texts generally
adhere to broad conventions and rules
which determine the language and
structure used in particular text types.”
Cornbleet and Carter
The Language of Speech and Writing
(2001, p 3)
The word text:
Derives from the Latin texere – to
weave
What determines the structure of a
text?
What form does this strucutre
take?
Is this the same for all texts?
Texts in general are:
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Self-contained
Well-formed
Hang together (cohesive)
Make sense (coherent)
Have a clear communicative purpose
Are recognisable text types
Are appropriate to their contexts of use
Scott Thornbury, Beyond the Sentence, p 19, Macmillan, 2005.
Are all of the following texts?
• No unauthorised photocopying.
• So easy to use, no wonder we’re the World’s No1
• Brown ‘treating people as fools’
• Is it my turn?
• KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN
Energizer
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It was generally evident whenever they met,
that he did admire her; and to her it was
equally evident that was yielding to the
preference which she had begun to entertain
for him from the first, and was in a way to be
very much in love; but she considered with
pleasure that it was not likely to be discovered
by the world in general, since Jane united
with great strength of feeling a composure of
temper and a uniform cheerfulness of manner,
which would guard her from the suspicions of
the impertinent.
Formal vs Informal
Literary and Non-literary
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What makes a text formal?
What makes a text informal?
Do formal texts only use formal language?
What is a literary text?
Are literary texts formal or informal?
Text and sentences
• Are all texts organised in sentences?
• Are sentences necessary for a stretch of
language to be considered a text?
• What kinds of text are organised in
sentences?
Text or discourse?
• Are they the same?
• If not what is the difference between text
analysis and discourse analysis?
• “Knowing what a sentence means is one
thing, but knowing what ismeant by an
utterance is another”
H.G. Widdowson Discourse Analysis, p. 13, OUP,
2007
So what is discourse?
“Discourse can be anything from a grunt or
single expletive, through short conversations and
scribbled notes right up to Tolstoy’s novel, War
and Peace, or a lengthy legal case.”
Guy Cook, Discourse, p 7. OUP, 1989
Discourse analysis is concerned
with:
“how the encoded resources available in a language
are put to communicative use”
H.G. Widdowson Discourse Analysis, p. XV, OUP, 2007
i.e. the focus is on the language as a means to an
end, an instrument at the service of
communication
Discourse analysis is also
concerned with:
meanings, which are-
“socio-cultural constructs of reality: they represent
particular beliefs and values that define ways of
thinking about the world”
Ibid
i.e. the focus is on how texts are socially
constructed and are to a certain extent a from of
social practice
Not only definition of discourse
analysis:
“This latter kind of language – language in use,
for communication – is called discourse; and the
search for what gives discourse coherence is
discourse analysis. […] What matters is not its
conformity to rules, but the fact that it
communicates and is recognized by its receivers
as coherent”
Guy Cook, Discourse, p 6 & 7, OUP, 1989
Spoken texts in particular are governed
by the social context which determines
the shape of the discourse and the
language used. This is thanks not only to
a knowledge of language but of
knowledge of social conventions and/or
the ability to make assumptions
regarding the situational context
(immediate perceptual context and
conceptual context as well as social
context) and draw inferences.
Context
• What are the main kinds of contexts?
• How do they differ from each other?
• What implications does the context have on
the kind of language used?
How would the following interlocuters
express the fact someone had died?
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Mother to toddler
Student to teacher
Male teenager to male friend
Female teenager to female friend
Female teenager to male friend
Adult woman to male colleague
Lawyer to judge in murder case
Newspaper death column
How would the following interlocuters
express their need to urinate?
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Toddler to mother
Student to teacher
Male teenager to male friend
Female teenager to female friend
Female teenager to male friend
Adult woman to male colleague
Lawyer to judge regarding the defendant
Context
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Public vs private
Participants (degree of familiarity)
Medium
Expectations
Level of personal reference
Style (from euphemism to dysphemism)
Repertoire of scripts
Ritualised language
Loaded language
Purpose
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Persuade
Instruct or advise
Entertain
Inform
Threaten
Request or invite
Social function
Promise
Mixed
What is the purpose of the
following texts?
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Bus ticket
List of jobs to do around the house
An employment contract
“c u l8r @ skul”
Birthday card
“Nokia – Connecting people”
“My other car’s a Porsche” (sticker in the
back of an old banger)
• Cat needs feeding (note left on kitchen
table)
Planning
• Which kinds of text involve most planning?
• Are spoken texts ever planned?
• What things are taken into account when
planning a text?
Features involved in planning
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Target (also multiple)
Setting (incl. register)
Time spent
Medium used
Longevity
Conformity
Pre-existing ‘scripts’ (conscious and subconscious
planning)
• Use of lexical phrases/set phrases
• Complexity of syntax
• Style
Jobs to do
• As there has been a lot of rain just recently along
with a rise in temperatures it would be advisable
if you found enough time to weed the vegetable
patch, if not the carrots and the lettuce will be
choked and we will not have any produce later
on in the year.
• I have been very busy recently and therefore
have not found time to hoover the bedrooms for
at least two weeks. Rather than go for a walk on
Saturday afternoon I think I should stay at home
and remedy this situation.
The best laid plans…
• Perceptions of interlocuter/reader
• Power roles
• (in spoken texts) unintended direction
Spoken text/discourse types
How many can you think of?
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Greetings
Speeches
Lectures
Conversations (many
subtypes)
• Radio & TV
• Requests
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Interviews
Orders/instructions
Sweet nothings
Warnings
Songs
Complaints
How many of these are scripted?
Ephemeral nature of spoken
language
Which of the above are ephemeral spoken
forms?
Which are long-lasting/permanent forms?
What about hybrid forms?
Analysing spoken texts
• “spoken discourse should not be judged
using the rules of written English: terms
such as ‘word’, ‘sentence’ and ‘paragraph’
… come from the study of writing.”
Carter et al., Working with Texts, 1997 p 243
Spoken texts
• “speech is characteristically used in pursuit
of a purpose… The practice of inventing a
sentence… is a practice of the sentence
grammarian, not the user’
Brazil, A Grammar of Speech,1995, pp 26-7
Spoken language
• Context – speakers, relationship, gender, status,
background, (familiarity of) situation, prior
knowledge, (conceptual context)
• Setting – where, when, visual contact, gesture
(paralanguage) (perceptual context)
• Pragmatics – shared knowledge, conventions,
turntaking, (purpose)
• Prosodics – intonation, stress, tone, emotion, etc,.
degree of formality (connected speech)
• Incompleteness – (not always – depends on text)
overlapping, interruption, hesitation, incoherence,
incomplete utterance, false starts, etc.
• Ephemeral?
What kind of texts are the following?
What do you base your thoughts on?
What a fuss! I for one don't want an
election in November - it would be the
worst possible month. As for Cameron
talking about running scared and
cowardice - how utterly childish can you
get? This is playground stuff. What
would he do given the same
circumstances I wonder? Give Brown a
chance I say.
hope you are all ok. i have
holidayitis and am very
excited!!! everyone is fine
here.we went to see pirates of
the carribean today but i cant
tell u what it was like because i
fell asleep-much to the disgust
of robin who thought it was
fab!!,
A: Wouldn't take it so far, but there was
definitely a fluttering of the eyelashes. But
after listening to D on the phone to his one
and only today, I'm pretty sure there's no risk
of him straying. He was positively sweet with
E. She's in Berlin and was obviously saying
sweet nothings to him which he was answering
as neutrally as he could with me listening in.
Ahhhhh!
You still haven't told me whether you're
coming tomorrow. Not that it matters. If you
haven't turned up by a certain time I'll drink
the wine on my own!
B: Ute...no-one can truly love a Germanspeaker… please don't quote me. (Ha ha ha.)
Same texts, different words
First things first, I poppa,
freaks all the honeys
Dummies - playboy bunnies,
those wantin' money Those
the ones I like 'cause they
don't get nathan' But
penetration, unless it smells
like sanitation Garbage, I turn
like doorknobs Heart throb,
never, black and ugly as ever
However, I stay coochied
down to the socks Rings and
watch filled with rocks .
As a general rule, I perform deviant
sexual acts with women of all
kinds, including but not limited to
those with limited intellect, nude
magazine models, and whores. I
particularly enjoy sexual encounters
with the latter group as they are
generally disappointed in the fact
that they only receive penile
intercourse and nothing more,
unless of course, they douche on a
consistent basis. Although I am
extremely unattractive, I am able to
engage in these types of sexual acts
with some regularity. Perhaps my
sexuality is somehow related to my
fancy and expensive jewelery.
Hybrid texts
• What kinds of text can be considered
hybrid?
• What features of written language do they
have?
• What features of spoken language do they
have?
• Multimodality (e.g. this lecture)
Spoken vs Written
Spoken texts often jointly constructed
(only happens in published letters between
correspondents)
Written texts more planned, structured,
grammatically correct, clear layout.
Two or more people can shape spoken texts.
Written texts shaped only by author(s) – though
editors can have a say. (cfr newspaper)
LANGUAGE
SYSTEM
Summing up – 1
Spoken language
SPEAKER
PRONUNCIATION
GRAMMAR
VOCAB
REASONING/
INTERPRETATION
/INTENT
PARALANGUAGE
VOICE
FACE
BODY
WORLD/CULTURAL
KNOWLEDGE
(INCULDING PRAGMATICS)
MESSAGE SUCCESSFULLY CONVEYED
LANGUAGE
SYSTEM
COHESIVE DEVICES
GRAMMAR
VOCAB
Summing up – 2
Written language
WRITER
PLANNING
REASONING/
INTENT/PURPOSE/
FUNCTION
WORLD/CULTURAL
KNOWLEDGE
(INCULDING PRAGMATICS)
OF SENDER &
RECEIVER
MESSAGE SUCCESSFULLY CONVEYED
HOWEVER…
How can we guarantee a text is
interpreted how it is intended?
i.e. does the discourse achieve its
purpose?
Purpose and Achievement
Which kinds of text, spoken or written do
you think have more chance of being
interpreted as intended, i.e. of achieving
their purpose?
What is discourse to the
discourse analyst?
“So the term discourse is taken here to refer both
to what a text producer meant by a text and what
a text means to the receiver.”
H.G. Widdowson, Discourse Analysis, p. 7, OUP, 2007
Primary and secondary purposes:
written and spoken texts
• Depends on context and setting
• Target/audience/readership
• Perceptions of interlocuter/reader
(nearly all texts have an informative
function)
Can you identify the purpose of
these texts and the context they
might have occured in?
As I think is made perfectly clear in
your contract of employment, staff are
expected to be fully dressed at all
times.
2pkts Emmenthal cheese slices
14 cold new potatoes
2 Bloody Marys (count as food as contain Worcester
sauce and tomatoes)
1/3 Ciabatta loaf with Brie
coriander leaves – ½ packet
12 Milk Tray (best to get rid of all Christmas
confectionery in one go and make fresh start tomorrow)
13 cocktail sticks securing chees and pineapple
Portion […] turkey curry, peas and bananas
Portion […] Raspberry Surprise made with Bourbon
biscuits, tinned raspberries, eight gallons of whipped
cream, decorated with glacé cherries and angelica.
Ten years ago people who cared
about the environment were
laughed at as sandal-wearing
beardy-weirdies and now look at
the power of the green consumer.
All rights reserved
Drink more than fourteen alcohol units a
week.
Smoke.
Spend more than earn.
Fall for any of following: alcoholics,
workaholics, commitment phobics, people
with girlfriends or wives, misogynists,
megalomaniacs, chauvinists, emotional
fuckwits or freeloaders, perverts.
A:I’m not talking about a ventilating
deconstructionalistic freshness of
vision. I’m talking about the ultimate
vandalisation of the cultural framework.
[…] What I mean is, if you’re taking that
sort of cutesy morally relativistic, “Blind
Date is brilliant” sort of line…
B: I wasn’t, I just really like Blind Date
Noon. London: my flat. Ugh.
A brilliant comic creation. Even
men will laugh.
Language and situation occur
together
The situation often dictates the language
used, but the language used can shape the
situation leading to an
outcome/upshot.
outcome/upshot
In other words - getting
things done
• Speech act theory
• Locution
• Illocution
• Perlocution
Discourse and the foreign
language learner
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Problems decoding and encoding
Linguistic competence
Encoding conventions
Shared knowledge
Sensitivity to social, not only linguistic,
conventions
• Understanding ambiguity
• Communicative strategies
Understanding notices
TOILET OUT OF ORDER.
PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW
Planning and Purpose
Context and Audience
Discourse
Conclusions?
Just a simple reminder of where we started – with
identifying what a text is. And to go back even
further, we might mention that the very word text
derives from the Latin texere, which means ‘to
weave’. Indeed texts have to take into account a
whole variety of things if they are to achieve a
purpose. If the text is to be at all beautiful we need
a degree of linguistic competence. However, if the
text is to be considered ‘successful’ it should not
only be well woven, but also serve its purpose. This
relationship between form and function, text and
context, is the main focus of discourse analysis.
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What is a text?