Genre and Discourse analysis of the Discourse Community
Discourse communities are groups of people with unique writing practices stemming from the communities’ beliefs, principles, objectives, lifestyle and influence of members of the community. The main reason for the use of Genres in discourse communities is to fulfill the community’s goals, create structures and standards for writing, and allocate specific roles to different writers. The discourse community of typography for example, refers to a community of writers specialized in print writing and divided into various numerous genres. There is a genre of newspaper writing, text writing such as books and other numerous articles. The genres are composed of writers who have common goals and values driving them to achieve their objectives. The newspaper-reporting genre, for example, has sports writers, wedding reporting, political writing amongst other sub-genres. Sports reporting is a subset of the newspaper reporting genre. The discourse community is guided by a set of unique and common objectives, values and materialistic aspirations. Sports reporting requires that members of the discourse community adhere to the norm and objectives of the genre as shared by the community. Writers within the sports reporting discourse community have a special role within the newspaper-writing genre and the entire discourse.
Genre and discourse analysis are tools applied in analyzing the performance of certain discourse communities. Genre analysis represents an approach involving the development of a literal perspective showing genres as actual representations of the community in which they are applied (Bawarshi and Reiff 192). Genre analysis has a wide applicability including in understanding, taking part and influencing certain real life situations. Groups of people have identified languages, values and activities that form part of their distinctive identity. Discourse analysis is a technique studying how these groups within the community apply the characteristics of language in their daily operations to create a unique identity (Gee 2). Discourse communities use language to create common values and develop unique characteristics in their various responsibilities, in life. There are several approaches to discourse analysis available, but none is perfect, and each supplements the other’s strengths. An analysis of Discourse and genre is crucial in understanding the functioning and importance of discourse communities in everyday society. In the typography discourse community and the newspaper-writing genre, one can establish a clear understanding of the operation of discourse communities.
Bawarshi and Reiff (2010) identified a systematic process to apply in the analysis of specific genres, in discourse communities. The first step they identify is the collection of information samples of the genre. This process grants the analyst a clearer understanding of the genre and provides enough background information. In the case of the sports reporters’ profession, the genre has a lot of information. Information gathering in this case involves gathering previous, as well as present published reports, and interviewing members of the genre. This process will also entail compiling reports from magazines published by different organizations and from different areas. It is imperative to collect information from a variety of sources to develop a comprehensive database of the genre one wants to study.
The second step in the analysis of genres is the identification of the scene and description of the situation in which the genre is applied (Bawarshi and Reiff 193). The setting of the sports reporting genre, for example, is the publishing house. The genre’s setting can also be the sports field where reporters create sports stories. Transmission of Sports reports is mainly through print media, multimedia and the information used to inform the public about sports happenings. The sports reporting genre interacts with other news reporting such as political reporting, welfare, fitness and health. The genre is part of mainstream news reporting and thus forms part of all other news reports in print and electronic media. There are several steps employed in identifying the situation of genre application. The sports reporting genre addresses mainly issues related to sporting activities such as soccer, football, hockey and basketball. The genre also deals with issues involving sports management, politics in sports, finances and drama in sports. The genre involves an extensive reporting of issues and topics encompassing the entire sporting industry and matters related to it. Those that use this genre to pass information and interact share sporting ideas, analyses, new information on sports matters and the drama characteristic of sports tabloids and events.
The situation of a genre also includes participants such as writers and the readers (Bawarshi and Reiff 193). There are several participants in this genre. There is no consideration given to writers. However, writers must espouse professional writing skills, writing ethics and excellent command of the discussion topic in the articles they are writing. Multiple writers are possible in this genre especially considering that the genre is wide with various disciplines such as fencing and chess that require special knowledge. The additional writers, therefore, take up those disciplines in which they are more informed. This genre requires a sober and creative mind, therefore, writers can prepare the reports in the office alone or in the confines of their study rooms. There are numerous different readers for sports reports. Most readers’ motivation, however, is the desire for more information on the topic and the latest news in the sports world. Thus, there are readers who seek new information, those seeking to learn about sports and experts who want to remain updated in sports issues. The readers are mere spectators who provide feedback to the writers on the topic. Readers of this genre are usually sports enthusiasts who have a passion for both local and international sports activities. Readers examine this genre during their leisure time and sometimes together with other news items. Sports writers’ motivation is to inform the audience about current happenings in the sports world. Readers read the genre to access the information on the events in the sports world. The ultimate fulfillment is when readers receive the information they want and can use it to keep track of the sports world.
The third step in the analysis of the genre in discourse communities is the identification and description of trends in the features of the genre (Bawarshi and Reiff 194). Trend identification involves establishing factors such as the common features shared by the samples collected and other common and unique characteristics of the genre. In the sports report-writing genre, for example, the sample articles share several recurrent features. The most striking feature of sports reports is the large number of images used and the bright coloring of the images in the articles. Unlike other news reports, sports reports usually have more colored pictures. There is usually a tendency in sports reporting to avoid long prose reporting of sports items. The content is summarily written and deeper details that may engage the reader excluded. In sports reporting, facts count as evidence. Sports reporting employs two rhetorical appeals. The first and most significant appeal of sports reporting is the appeal to ethos. Sports writers are usually people with great experience in the world of sport. They write their articles with an aura of superiority showing a good command of content and understanding of sporting facts. The second appeal applied by sports writers is the appeal to logos. Sports discussions are usually logical deliberations where the writers use logic to argue their case out and make statements on sports issues. Sport reports have simple sentences with the text organized into topics. The writer’s voice is usually cheerful rather than authoritative.
The fourth step in the analysis of genre is the interpretation of the trends identified in the genre and their implications on the situation (Bawarshi and Reiff 194). The rhetorical patterns, the appeal to logos and ethos, show several complexities in the genre. The readers rely on facts and can only be convinced through a combination of facts and logical arguments from an expert in the field of sports. The patterns identified are significant because they distinguish sports reporting from other writing types, hence, enhancing the uniqueness and commonality usually associated with genres and discourse communities. The language patterns of the genre reveal several key observations. The writer must convince the readers and the topic must be clear and concise. It is crucial to use simple words and avoid lengthy reports that might discourage readers. The patterns above are quite influential in the understanding of this genre. The genre promotes a belief in passing accurate and credible information to the reader and the goal of the genre is to inform using credible, realistic and clear arguments.
Apart from genre analysis, discourse analysis can assist in the understanding of discourse communities. Discourse analysis is an attempt to understand the structure and maintenance of the social world (Philips and Hardy 2). James Paul Gee (2005) language in use method is vital in the analysis of discourses. Wodak and Meyer (2010) also devised the critical discourse analysis method used in analyzing discourse communities. Gees language in use method involves a systematic inquiry using questions known as discourse questions (Gee 10). The discourse questions analyze the significance, activities, identities, relationships, politics, connections and sign systems created by language use in a discourse. Analysis of the significance of language in discourse for instance involves finding out how that language makes things significant or not. For instance, in the sports reporting genre emphasizing on reporting credibility shows the significance of the information. Language is critical in analyzing the activities or sort of activities covered by the report. For instance, sport reporters have their own lingua that shows the exact context of the activities. In creating a certain identity in sport reporting, the writer might use language that shows impartiality or partiality in reporting, or even use language that gives him/her some level of superiority or authority over the reader. In terms of relationships, the sport-reporting genre uses language that might sometimes portray the relationship between a professional and a nonprofessional or even supporters of a particular team. Usually the language employed in the sports reporting is implicating. This is what Gee refers to as politics (13). The writer might use language that confers a blame on a player or a coach or one that exonerates them from the burden of blame. Sports reports usually contain information trying to make connections between past utterances and future utterances considering sports usually continue for a whole season. The last function of language is the signs system. The use of unique language in the sports reports privileges sports related languages. These uses of language enable the understanding of the sports reporting genre using the uniqueness of language.
The second tool used in analyzing discourse communities is the critical discourse analysis (Wodak and Meyer 23). This technique focuses on the various ways through which language conveys a social and political meaning. Critical Discourse analysis focuses on critical factors that attempt to connect the discourse community, the society and identity. The first focus is the micro and macro-environment of the discourse community. The application of language in discourses to relate to factors in both the micro and macro environment is crucial in the analysis of discourses (Wodak and Meyer 19). In the sports genre, for example, the use of language or words relating to other genres outside the sports reporting genre is critical in understanding discourse. The second characteristic of language in the analysis of discourses is how language defines the power control by the discourse identified. In the sports genre, for example, coercive language may create some sense of implied authority over others. Secondly, norms, values, laws and beliefs may grant a certain discourse social power over others. The article-writing genre and the media in particular have a significant authority if their practices show a certain semblance of dignity and transparency hence scaring away corrupt individuals. Thus, critical discourse analysis elaborates on language’s ability to grant a certain discourse some level of social power over its immediate community and other discourses.
communities can be easily analyzed using the genre analysis and discourse
analysis techniques. Genre analysis enables the examination of discourse
communities through the uniqueness of the particular genres within them. Discourse
analysis and critical discourse analyses examine the influences of language on
the discourse community, social control and identity as well as many other
factors. Language has been unstable and shown divergence rendering discourse
communities unpredictable entities as seen in the analyses (Devitt, Bawarshi
and Reiff 542). The analysis of the sports reporting genre within the larger
report writing discourse enables a clear understanding of the importance of
language in genres and discourses, and reveals significant underlying issues in
the sustenance of discourses. Discourse communities are, therefore, dynamic
entities capable of transforming with changes in societal reception.
Bawarshi, Anis S, and Mary J. Reiff. Genre: An Introduction to History, Theory, Research, and Pedagogy. West Lafayette, Ind: Parlor Press, 2010. Print.
Devitt, Amy J, Anis Bawarshi, and Mary J. Reiff. “Materiality and Genre in the Study of Discourse Communities.” College English. 65.5 (2003): 541-58. Print.
Gee, James P. An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Phillips, Nelson, and Cynthia Hardy. Discourse Analysis: Investigating Processes of Social Construction. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publ, 2006. Print.
Wodak, Ruth. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010. Print.