Aspects of discourse analysis

Title: Aspects of discourse analysis
Author: Chafe, Wallace
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2008, vol. 34, iss. 1, pp. [23]-37
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Type: Article
License: Not specified license

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This paper uses a short conversational excerpt to illustrate some of the ways in which the study of ordinary discourse can be not only scientifically but also aesthetically rewarding. The discussion focuses on two considerations of special importance. One is the flow of discourse topics, the other the flow of emotions. I show how conversations are structured around the flow of topics and subtopics, with the briefest segments, prosodic phrases, expressing momentary foci of consciousness. I point to the fact that the boundaries of sentences are inserted "on the run" as people talk, providing evidence that sentences are not direct reflections of cognitively stable units. I then show how emotions may ebb and flow as conversations proceed, and I devote special attention to the feeling of nonseriousness that is expressed with laughter.
[1] Chafe, Wallace (1994) Discourse, Consciousness, and Time: The Flow and Displacement of Consciousness in Speaking and Writing. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[2] Chafe, Wallace (1998) 'Things we can learn from repeated tellings of the same experience'. Narrative Inquiry 8: 1–17.

[3] Chafe, Wallace (2001) 'The Analysis of Discourse Flow'. In: Deborah Schiffrin, Deborah Tannen, and Heidi E. Hamilton (eds.), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell, 673–687. Reprinted in Teun A. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse Studies, Volume 1. London: Sage, 334–348.

[4] Chafe, Wallace (2002) 'Prosody and Emotion in a Sample of Real Speech'. In: Peter Fries, Michael Cummings, David Lockwood, and William Sprueill (eds.). Relations and Functions Within and Around Language. London: Continuum, 277–315.

[5] Chafe, Wallace (2007) The Importance of Not Being Earnest: The Feeling Behind Laughter and Humor. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

[6] Firbas, Jan (1992) Functional Sentence Perspective in Written and Spoken Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[7] James, William (1890) The Principles of Psychology. 2 vols. New York: Henry Holt. Reprinted 1950 by Dover Publications, New York.

[8] Norrick, Neal R. (1993) Conversational Joking: Humor in Everyday Talk. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

[9] Provine, Robert R. (2000) Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. New York: Viking.