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Genre Analysis

Genre Analysis

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Published by pwmarinello

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Published by: pwmarinello on Jun 06, 2012
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Part AThe letter, in terms of genre, is a letter of complaint which is a subgenre of businessletter. As far as generic structure is concerned we would expect the text to follow thedevelopment of 1) aim of letter, 2) identification of complaint, 3) elaboration of complaint, 4) demand for action to achieve optimal coherence, however the structurefalls broadly within the stages of elaboration of complaint > identification of complaint>demand for action with no explicit aim of letter apparent. Furthermore thestages themselves often have little thematic unity which further makes their definition problematic.We cannot separate language from "culturally construed" social situations (context).According to Halliday (1985/89), there are three elements of social situation: field,tenor and mode. The three elements are closely related, interrelated and interdependent.They are all represented in this text. The field refers to the social action, or to what istaking place or happening among participants of the discourse. The tenor refers to the participants, or who is/are taking part in the discourse, their statuses and roles. Themode refers to "what part the language is playing" (Halliday, 1985/89: 12). In addition,there are other sub-elements involved in the social context. For example, under tenor there is the "social distance", which is related to the status and roles of participants.This can be minimal or maximal, depending on the degree of familiarity among participants. There is also the sub-element "process sharing". A second sub-elementunder mode is the language role, whether it is "constitutive" or "ancillary".The field apparent from the letter, ie. those elements relating to subject matter andcontext of use, is best defined as an everyday situation with very little specialised lexis.The angle of representation of the text is not high as there are relatively fewcontradictions and little or no cultural interference. As this is a letter, the tenor of thediscourse, as far as participants is concerned, is not as explicit as it would be in aspoken text. The participants are consumer and service provider therefore theimplication is that the register would be formal which it is generally not. As for  purpose, the tenor does little to make this explicit as we shall come to later. The socialconnectedness, as the participant roles would suggest, is distant and, again, the register 
does not support this. The mode is static, relatively non-interactive and is asynchronousin time and spaceThe field of everyday situation with low specialised lexis is supported by the familiarityof the process of international travel described in the letter. The lexis, as relates tosubject matter, is congruent with the selected field; "flight", "luggage", "luggage claimoffice", "sticker", "flight number". This lexis is handled well in context and the stage of the letter related to the identification of the complaint is thematically consistent if lacking coherence. Moving to angle of representation, the attitude of the serviceconsumer is explicit through the adverbial and adjectival intensifiers, "mega" longflight", "really" tired", "really" need to get hold of it". The appropriateness of the angleof representation can be verified if we consider on what basis the service provider maycounter the accusations. An appeal has been submitted to luggage claim but no further action appears to have been taken.Looking at tenor in more detail, the explicitness of the writer's role as service consumer is clear through the repeated use of first person pronoun and declarative clauses wherethe subject occurs before all the verbs in the clause; "I must prepare my talk", "I amstaying with the English family". Most of these clauses exist also as super-ordinateswith subordination occurring infrequently, "I came to England because I must visit mysupervisor and I also must present a conference" showing that super-ordinates areconnected through conjunctions rather than a subordinating device. The tenor does littleto reveal the purpose of the letter. This is exacerbated by the lack of coherence in thegeneric structure of the letter where the aim of the letter is not made explicit until theend of the first paragraph.The non-interactive mode common in written letters is often characterised by extensiveuse of the passive voice which the writer has entirely omitted from the letter. Theconstant use of active voice, particularly perfective, "I have not heard from him" where passive may be used, "I have not been given any explanation" has the effect of makingthe register more informal and thus potentially less effective as it does not conform toexpectation of how the discourse structure of a formal letter should be arranged.
Part BThe text is largely ineffective mainly due to the difficulty the reader would have inconstructing a consistent message from the writer's chosen generic structure.According to Halliday (1985), language simultaneously conveys three kinds of meanings: ideational or experiential, interpersonal and textual. The followingquotation illustrates the relationship among these meanings or metafunctions:the fundamental components of meaning in language are functional components. Alllanguages are organised around two main kinds of meaning, the "ideational" or reflective, and the "interpersonal" or active. These components, called "manifestationsin the terminology of the present theory, are the manifestations in the linguistic systemof the two very general purposes which underlie all uses of language: (i) to understandthe environment (ideational), and (ii) to act on the others in it (interpersonal). Combinedwith these is a third metafunctional component, the "textual", which breathes relevanceinto the other two" (Halliday, 1985: xiii).The text fails in some aspects of ideation, i.e. both in the logical metafunction and theexperiential metafunction. The generic structure introduces the letter with anelaboration of the complaint before the complaint is actually identified; "I was one of the passengers who took the flight". This has the effect of obfuscating the purpose of the letter. Furthermore, some of the supporting evidence to the identification of thecomplaint is best described as irrelevant, "The foods were not very nice" whichsuggests a deficit in the ideational metafunction as regards logic. The identification of the complaint itself is reasonably well elaborated with descriptive forms usedeffectively to described the suitcase. In addition, the demand for action is handled wellin terms of rhetorical usage, "I would deeply appreciate if..", however lack of textcoherence further causes problems as, although the demand is semantically appropriatethe subject of the demand is contained at the end of paragraph two, "When are yougonna look for it?". Staying with generic structure, there is also no sign of the aim of the letter as would generally be expected.Cohesion is not varied and thus the reiteration pattern is too explicit. The referentialelements related to the suitcase in paragraph two are limited to "it", so, "It is a greySamsonite", "It is not an old suitcase", "When are you gonna look for it?" The

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