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of English Kuvempu 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 types of 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). We will also argue that this framework can be used as an useful tool to talk about the connections 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 that discourse 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 features1. We have no overlap between the roles of “A” and “B”. A produces and “B” interprets. 2. 3. “B” has no direct role in the production of the text. The text generally exists before the discourse takes place and is relatively more stable.
The lawyer may ask a series of questions to his client 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 not actually speaking to each other. a seminar paper etc. All the participants have equal rights to contribute.Typical examples for monologic discourse are sermon. we can look at the conversation between the lawyer and his client in the courtroom. We will also ignore for the purposes of this paper the fact that in the preparation of the text in each case. Let us say the lawyer is “A” and his client is “B”. the roles of the producer and the interpreter are not fixed. Thus in a dialogic text. but both (or more of) the authors are part of “A”. a lot of dialogue may have taken place. It is true that all these may have been indirectly influenced by the concept of the interpreter (congregation. For example. Their dialogue is meant to be interpreted by the judge (who may of course contribute to the discourse). reader. A truly dialogic text is one in which both “A” and “B” contribute on equal footing to the creation of the text. Such a discourse where there is a 2 . This brings us to the question of co-authored texts. but in reality both together are addressing some other person(s) “C”. audience). but we have a very clear distinction between the producer and the interpreter. Gossip is as near as one can come to a truly dialogic discourse in real life. The point is that these dialogues are not between “A” and “B” as defined earlier. Then there are situations where “A” and “B” appear to be having a dialogue. Are these to be considered dialogic? The dialogue in such texts is not between “A” and “B” as defined in this paper. poetry.
But both the actors will have known the lines beforehand so that no aspect of discourse is a real communication between “A” and “B”. Thus there are many layers at which we can analyze literary dialogues (which include dialogues in novels as well as in narrative or dramatic poetry). We have two actors playing the role of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (our “A” and “B”?). even the audience may know the lines already before they are actually uttered on the stage. so even “C” may not get any new information. as he purposes. Lady Macbeth: And when goes hence? Macbeth: To-morrow. Who is the producer of the ‘text’ here. but where the intended interpreter is someone other than “A” or “B” can be called pseudo-dialogic discourse. but at a basic level we can say that this is another case of pseudodialogue. the director or the playwright? Similarly. “A” and “B” are ‘talking’. 3 . First of all. Apparently.pretense of dialogue between “A” and “B”. Let us take the example of Macbeth. Drama provides many interesting instances of pseudo-dialogic discourse. But the situation is more complex here. the actors.the characters. let us think of a stage production of Macbeth. / Duncan comes here tonight. Look at the following ‘dialogue’Macbeth: My dearest love. “A” makes a statement and “B” responds by asking a question to which “A” answers. The interpreter is the audience (“C”?).
or even the length of his/her contribution. But the most relevant type of discourse for us keeping in mind the relationship between language and society is the semi-dialogic discourse. (say Manmohan Singh or George Bush). pseudo-dialogue can be used as a rhetorical device. We can have sentences like. “B” seems to be an equal partner. In many news papers we can find articles ostensibly addressed to a public figure (a politician. In all these cases. or on what the topic of discourse can be. but he/she is not. 4 . Thus B’s inferior role in contributing to the discourse may be institutionalized in the discourse situation. the general case is that B’s responses are just that-responses. The point of interest for us should be the various sources and means through which this control is exercised. “B” can not decide on what his/her contribution should be. Let us remember here that “A” and “B” are not necessarily individuals. though “B” contributes to the discourse. his/her contribution is severely controlled by “A”. the court room dialogue between the prosecution lawyer and the defendant. Here. They are possibly limited by their identity in the society. Some examples of semi-dialogic discourse are the classroom dialogue between a teacher and pupils. The turntaking is controlled by “A”. “Tell us dear Chief Minister” or “Why did you not protest then?” This is a very unfair trick because the poor “B” here has no way of responding to questions or criticism raised by “A”! Sometimes “B” is very unlikely to even ever read the article. or a dialogue between the doctor and the patient (or between an authoritative father and his son or daughter). a famous writer. or any public figure).Sometime.
But often the semidialogic discourse reflects the unequal power relations within a group. 5 . What we can do is to try make all our discourses as truly dialogic as possible. The point is that though language is tool for communication. and shaping individual’s interaction with society”(Jaworski and Coupland 1999: 3). In most of these cases “B” is at disadvantage because he/she is not allowed to contribute the discourse. not everyone involved has equal authority to use this tool. Sometimes the personality or the position of “A” in society can be source of authority. Here we any have to move to a broader definition of discourse as “Language in use relative to social. We just point out some possible sources of authority. Sometimes there can be conventions attached to the particular discourse situation. political and cultural formations-it is language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order. as in a seminar where the chairperson decides when to stop a presentation.It is not the purpose of this paper to analyze the various sources of authority that allow “A” to control the discourse.
Works Cited Crystal. 6 . Adam and Nikolas Coupland The Discourse Reader(ed) Routledge London and New York 1999. David The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Language BCA London 1994 Jaworski.