You need to know Concept of Discourse Communities
( GOOGLE IT )
You need to know Genre :
Genre canTells me how people in the group relate to each other:
Relationships range: personal to formal
Leaders/experts Become clearer
Genre Can help me organize my paper:
Arrange By social media, formal electronic communication, printed documents,etc.
Genre Can tell me how the group does business/meets its goals: Sometimes, Explicitly stated
Genre Can Tells Me what niche (collective identity) group occupies (Android users/Apple users)
Why do we use a discourse community to
End with thesis statement.
EX. Consistent observation, [specific
documents], and an interview with
[expert/novice name & title] reveal
[discourse community name]’s
aims/goals/ideas about [concept]
Introduce a characteristic (w/citation)
Explain characteristic (w/citation)
Ex. Swales requires “specific lexis” of any group th
at might be called a discou
rse community (222). He
does not rule out terms that can be used in other
contexts (222). For instance, a group of roommates
might be just as concerned with parking as a communi
ty of factory workers, and words related to that
idea can be found in both communities. His em
phasis, however, is on “shared and specialized
terminology” as a way to understand group dynami
cs through communicative formats (222). It would
be more valuable, for example, to know that in Professor Myers’s class, “DCA” is a common
abbreviation for a major assignment than to know that
instructor uses the phrase “freak out” frequently.
3 BASIC INFO
What makes this group a discourse
What makes the analysis of this DC
unique or interesting?
What matters to members of the
community? What do they do? What
do they value?
How did I gather my data?
How often did I observe my DC? In what setting?
Whom did I interview? Why was this person selected?
4) APLY SWALES’S CHARACTERISTICS TO
Why does the group exist? What does the group do? What are its shared goals?
How do group members communicate with one anot
her (e.g., meetings, phone calls, e-mail, text
messages, newsletters, reports, evaluation forms, blogs, online bulletin boards, etc.)?
What are the purposes of the group’s communicati
ons (share information, reinforce values, make
money, improve performance, offer support, declare identity, etc.)?
Which of the above communications can be considered
(i.e., textual responses to recurring
situations that all group members recognize and understand)?
What kinds of specialized language (
) do group members use in their conversations and in
their written genres?
Who are the “old timers” in the group with expert
ise? Who are the newcomers with less expertise?
How do newcomers learn the appropriate language, genres, and knowledge of the group?
Are there conflicts wi
thin the discourse
community? If so, about what? How do their
genres address those conflicts?
Which genres help the
work toward their goals most effectively?
Do some participants in the community have
difficulty speaking or writing within it? Why?
Who has authority in the discourse
community? How was that authority
established? How is authority demonstrated
in written and oral language?
What can my readers take away from this essay?
What future work can be done with the work I’ve accomplished here?
The purpose of this assignment is to help you more fully understand how discourse communities use language to function and accomplish their purposes and goals.
Your goal is to compose an interesting description and insightful analysis of the language practices (spoken and written) of a discourse community of your own choosing.
Identify a discourse community that interests or intrigues you. You may be a member of that discourse community; you might be an outsider. For our purposes, a discourse community could be any group of people who identify themselves as a group. Some possibilities include a church group, a fraternity or sorority, a club or team, a social organization, an academic or professional organization, etc.
If you are uncertain whether a group is indeed a discourse community, apply Swale’s six characteristics of a discourse community (220-22) to see if you can find answers to the following questions:
√ Why does the group exist? What does the group do? What are its shared goals?
√ How do group members communicate with one another (e.g., meetings, phone calls, e-mail, text messages, newsletters, reports, evaluation forms, blogs, online bulletin boards, etc.)?
√ What are the purposes of the group’s communications (share information, reinforce values, make money, improve performance, offer support, declare identity, etc.)?
√ Which of the above communications can be considered genres (i.e., textual responses to recurring situations that all group members recognize and understand)?
√ What kinds of specialized language (lexis) do group members use in their conversations and in their written genres?
√ Who are the “old timers” in the group with expertise? Who are the newcomers with less
expertise? How do newcomers learn the appropriate language, genres, and knowledge of the group?
Once you have identified a discourse community to study, you will need to engage in the following research activities:
• Observe and take detailed notes of members of the discourse community while they are engaged
in a shared group activity. (What are they doing? What kinds of things do they say? What do they write? How do you who is “in” and who is “out”?)
• Collect anything people in that community read or write (i.e., their genres)––“official” publications, newsletters, blogs, forms, IMs, texts, etc.
• Interview at least one member of the discourse community. (How long have you been involved with this group? Why are you involved? What do the terms X. Y, and Z mean? How do you communicate with the group? How did you learn to write things to the group?)
As you gather and review information about the discourse community, what catches your interest most? What stands out to you about that community? What surprises you? Listed below are some additional questions that can help you dig more deeply for your analysis of the group:
• Are there conflicts within the discourse community? If so, about what? How do their genres address those conflicts?
• Which genres help the discourse community work toward their goals most effectively?
• Do some participants in the community have difficulty speaking or writing within it? Why?
• Who has authority in the discourse community? How was that authority established? How authority demonstrated in written and oral language?
Planning and Drafting
Because your goal is to compose an interesting, insightful analysis of a discourse community, you will use the material you have gathered from your observations and interview(s). An analysis is your interpretation of all the information you collect. Strive to make sense of everything you learn about the discourse community and convey that to the reader.
Adopt the impartial, analytical stance of a researcher conducting a study. Writing in third-person is appropriate (unless, perhaps, you are a member of the discourse community). Render others’ words fairly. Your comments and explanations should provide your readers with important background information and connections to the course readings where appropriate.
As you draft your analysis, there are many ways you can arrange your material. The suggestions below are not a template, but they may help you consider the types of information you should include:
• Begin by explaining what a discourse community is by quoting and paraphrasing some of the readings in our textbook (e.g., Swales, McCarthy)
• Identify the discourse community you studied by explaining what makes it discourse community (referring to Swales’s criteria would be useful) and what makes it worth studying
• Describe how you studied the discourse community
• Discuss in detail what you discovered about the discourse community (use examples and quotes from your notes, interview, and texts you collected) and analyze what makes it significant to understanding that group
• Include a works cited page (for interviews, genres, etc.)
What Makes It Effective?
An effective analysis is vivid: rich with details, examples, descriptions, and insights.
A reader should finish reading your analysis and have a clear sense of the discourse community you studied. If asked, a reader could find answers in your analysis to the following questions (in no particular order):
What makes this a discourse community? What makes it unique? Interesting?
What matters to members of the community? What do they do? What do they value? How is membership in the community established? Maintained?
How do members use spoken and written language to accomplish their goals?
An effective portrait will demonstrate that you have done sufficient research; organized the material to present key ideas; and edited and proofread to eliminate grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Final drafts should be at least 1750 words. Be sure to include an interesting title.
FINALLY, I uploaded example