Analyzing Discourse: A Manual of Basic Concepts

Dooley, Robert A. and Stephen H. Levinsohn

Analyzing Discourse is an introduction to discourse analysis for linguistic field workers. It is practical, addressing issues commonly confronted by field linguists. Rather than applying a rigid theory or surveying a variety of approaches, it provides a methodology that has been refined over years of use. The material follows a functional and cognitive approach that seems to be a good approximation of how discourse is actually produced and understood.

Since the aim of the manual is introductory rather than comprehensive, most chapters are relatively short, and the whole can be covered in fifteen classroom hours. References are provided for further reading on the topics discussed. The manual can be used individually or in group sessions, such as in a formal course or a linguistic seminar. In a group setting, concepts can be illustrated by examining further texts than those provided in the manual.

About the Authors

Robert A. Dooley has a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. He has been involved in translation and the literacy team in the Brazilian Mbyá Guarani language project. He also has served as Brazil SIL Linguistic Consultant and as Director of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session, from 1988 to 1993.

Stephen Levinsohn has a doctorate in Linguistic Science from the University of Reading, England. He is an International Linguistics Consultant with SIL International, did fieldwork in Colombia from 1968 to 1998 with the Inga (Quechuan) people, and directs linguistic and "Discourse for Translation" workshops in different parts of West Africa and Latin America.

Table of Contents:


1-4 Types of Text

  1. Means of Production: Number of Speakers
  2. Type of content: Text Genres
  3. Manner of Production: Style and Register
  4. Medium of Production: Oral Versus Written

5-15 Common Characteristics in Discourses

  1. Coherence
  2. Cohesion
  3. Thematic Groupings and Thematic Discontinuities
  4. Text Charting
  5. Mental Representations Revisited
  6. Activation Status, Definiteness, and Referential Status
  7. Discourse-Pragmatic Structuring of Sentences
  8. Foreground and Background Information
  9. Signaling Relations Between Propositions
  10. The Reporting of Conversation
  11. Conventionalized Aspects of Text Organization

16-18 Participant Reference

  1. Basic Notions of Reference
  2. Strategies of Reference
  3. A Methodology for Analyzing Reference Patterns


Appendix A: "Winds of Terror"
Appendix B: "The Train Ride"
Appendix C: Extract from "The Healer and His Wife"


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viii, 165 pages
Discourse analysis
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