Processing and Organizing Language = Discourse Analysis.
In this week’s article, An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Analysis, university professor James Paul Gee presents a concept for understanding language and the way it connects to society. He argues that individuals should study language as action and affiliation. Individuals use language to connect to others and create meaning in their everyday life. Gee states,
“If I had to single out a primary function of human language, it would not be one, but the following two closely related functions: to support the performance of social activities and social identities (i.e: different ways of participating in different sorts of social groups, cultures, and institutions) [emphasis added] and to support human affiliation with cultures, social groups, and institutions.” ( pg. 1)
Gee further explains this theory giving reason to how those two functions of language
Furthermore, Gee discusses the concept of political language. This political language he describes does not mean the common democrats and republicans stands that most people are familiar with. Instead, this political language takes a particular perspective on what the world is like and gives background context to how people view life.
Gee further discuss how both social and political language allows us to speak, write and create communication. People are able to build things through language. He presents the seven building blocks which are…
- politics ( the distribution of social goods)
- signs systems and knowledge
In the article, Gee describes each of the seven building blocks and how language is significant for each.
Overall, I thought the chapter was a great resource for understanding discourse. Gee provided clear examples and discussion of different types of language analysis. Particularly, in the discussion of social languages, Gee explains how individuals experience different styles of speaking in different social context. In the text, he provides an example of the vernacular and technical version of the social language.
For example, a student studying hornworms night say in everyday language, a variety of language often referred to as “vernacular language” something like “Hornworms sure vary a lot in how big they get,” while the same student might use a more technical variety of language to say to write something like “Hornworm growth exhibits a significant amount of variation.” (pg.20)
It is clear to notice the difference in these two sentences. At any moment an individual can switch the way they use language. The switch between these two types of language is a way for individuals to recognize identities. A person will have a more technical language in a classroom setting and be more aware of their professional identity. In contrast, a person speaking with their friend or peer will be less professional and speak in vernacular language. Both of which is the identity of one individual. I understood this concept clearly because this way of speaking is practiced by everyone. People are skilled in the ways they use language to communicate in every daylife.