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Psuedo and Semi Dialogic Discourse

Psuedo and Semi Dialogic Discourse

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Published by B V Rama Prasad
language and discourse
language and discourse

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: B V Rama Prasad on Oct 20, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Pseudo-dialogic and Semi-dialogic Discourse
Dr. B.V. Rama PrasadReader Dept. of EnglishKuvempu University
In Discourse Analysis generally discourse is divided into monologue and dialogue(see Crystal, 1994: 294-297). This paper tries to argue that we can talk about four typesof discourse, pseudo-dialogic and semi-dialogic being the other two. For the purposes of this paper, discourse can be defined as language in use(see Brown and Yule 1983: 1). Wewill also argue that this framework can be used as an useful tool to talk about theconnections between the use of language and the inequalities in society.Let us first try to look each of the four types of discourse. We will assume thatdiscourse will have two or two sets of participants, “A” and “B”. Of these, let us say “A”is the producer(s) of the text of the discourse and “B” is the interpreter(s) of the text of the discourse. “A” and “B” need not be persons. They can represent institutions,organizations or even the state. Monologic discourse has the following features-1.We have no overlap between the roles of Aand B. A produces and“B” interprets.2.Bhas no direct role in the production of the text.3.The text generally exists before the discourse takes place and isrelatively more stable.1
Typical examples for monologic discourse are sermon, poetry, a seminar paper etc. It is true that all these may have been indirectly influenced by the concept of theinterpreter (congregation, reader, audience), but we have a very clear distinction betweenthe producer and the interpreter. We will also ignore for the purposes of this paper thefact that in the preparation of the text in each case, a lot of dialogue may have taken place. The point is that these dialogues are not between “A” and “B” as defined earlier.This brings us to the question of co-authored texts. Are these to be considereddialogic? The dialogue in such texts is not between “A” and “B” as defined in this paper, but both (or more of) the authors are part of “A”. A truly dialogic text is one in which both “A” and “B” contribute on equal footing to the creation of the text. Thus in adialogic text, the roles of the producer and the interpreter are not fixed. All the participants have equal rights to contribute. Gossip is as near as one can come to a trulydialogic discourse in real life.Then there are situations where “A” and “B” appear to be having a dialogue, butin reality both together are addressing some other person(s) “C”. For example, we canlook at the conversation between the lawyer and his client in the courtroom. Let us saythe lawyer is “A” and his client is “B”. The lawyer may ask a series of questions to hisclient who is in the witness box. Thus both “A” and “B” seem to be constructing the text(though of course the lawyer is controlling the discourse). But here A and B are notactually speaking to each other. Their dialogue is meant to be interpreted by the judge(who may of course contribute to the discourse). Such a discourse where there is a2
 pretense of dialogue between “A” and “B”, but where the intended interpreter is someoneother than “A” or “B” can be called pseudo-dialogic discourse.Drama provides many interesting instances of pseudo-dialogic discourse. Let ustake the example of Macbeth. Look at the following ‘dialogue’-Macbeth: My dearest love, / Duncan comes here tonight.Lady Macbeth: And when goes hence?Macbeth: To-morrow, as he purposes.First of all, let us think of a stage production of Macbeth. We have two actors playing the role of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (our “A” and “B”?). “A” makes astatement and “B” responds by asking a question to which “A” answers. Apparently, “A”and “B” are ‘talking’. But both the actors will have known the lines beforehand so that noaspect of discourse is a real communication between “A” and “B”. The interpreter is theaudience (“C”?). But the situation is more complex here. Who is the producer of the‘text’ here- the characters, the actors, the director or the playwright? Similarly, even theaudience may know the lines already before they are actually uttered on the stage, soeven “C” may not get any new information. Thus there are many layers at which we cananalyze literary dialogues (which include dialogues in novels as well as in narrative or dramatic poetry), but at a basic level we can say that this is another case of pseudo-dialogue.3

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