Lessons in discourse analysis

Discourse!  It’s everywhere right?  So how do you personally cope with the discourses that ensue when building it through language?

I’ve discussed the purpose of language in past blogs; language is symbolic and acts as a carrier for mediating understanding.  Understanding provides many things to include building a knowledge base.  Knowledge is a form of Gnosis, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll not end up corrupting yourself through it.  The task then, is to decide what language is building.

Language is saying, doing and being.

So start with some rudimentary questions:

What is the language saying?

What is the language doing?

What is the language being?

This may lead to other inquires such as:

1. What is its significance?

2. What is language practicing?

3. How do I identify the language?

4. What relationship do I have with language?

5. Is the language political?

6. What connections are being made?

7. What knowledge do I personally hold about the symbols?

Through this inquiry you begin building a foundation for your own understanding of language that builds discourse.

Each culture has its own conventions of language. Each language has a beginning, transitional period and a present tense.

In this particular discourse analysis, the primary question that seeks an answer is as follows:

How does a piece of language affect the way we hold knowledge, and the effects on our beliefs?

In creating discourse through language, we believe certain things to be truths.  These truths are more often than not, believed to be universal but from a subjective point of view.

There are many factors to consider here, such as social languages, intertextuality, and the conversation’s course as the dialogue with others progresses.

People build identifications through activities, not just language but you can’t know in all certainty what activities are running simultaneously while each person engages in the conversation.

Activities: Processing, thinking, feeling, and acting are just a few activities to consider.

I covered this a bit on my show Conformity & Polymorphism

Take for instance the word: CUT

How would a movie director understand the term cut?

A Barber?

A surgeon?

Obviously the context is relevant, and language in context carries a specific understanding.

An example of social language:  “Cut the shit!”

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, then a literal interpretation may be understood, as if cutting crap is an activity that one engages in.  Perhaps if you were medical professional or vet, you just might but your average every day person isn’t in the habit of dissecting feces.  There is a sort of conformed understanding of what that phrase means, and it may very well be the conduit for laying down the foundation for discourse.

Other language could certainly be used for a similar sentiment but that’s reliant on the person’s being.  Not just how they are being (action) but the essence of what they are.

Another question which may arise through this analysis is, Are we our ideas?

If your particular being chooses the phrase ‘Cut the Shit!’ vs. ‘Please Stop’, does this mean that the person IS their ideas?  Perhaps it’s more appropriate to look at it this way:

Please stop = a polite person

Cut the shit! = a rude person

This sort of dual perception is rather common, especially in having conversations.  This has more to do with social ethics and responsibility, than it does individuality.  It’s as if there is a set expectation on every conversation you will ever have in your lifetime.

Another element to consider is the environment in which the conversations take place.

Some examples:

Work Place

Social Club

Home

Bar

Public Park

Day Care Center

Concert Venue

Doctor’s Office

These are just some examples of environments where conversations take place.  Perhaps you change your ideas as your environment changes.

1. You may hold the idea that any form of censorship is not something you will tolerate.

Perhaps you choose to self-censor your language in a Day Care Center because you feel that some language is inappropriate for children.  This stems from your own morality and ethics.

2. You may hold the idea that any foul language is a sign of immaturity.

Perhaps you stub your toe and out comes flying profanity to express how truly painful it is, and in the presence of your own children.

These two examples demonstrate that while you may hold ideas, ‘you’ as a being, are not your ideas.  You will find that your ideas change with circumstance, environment and experience.

The same is true when discourse is built by language.

1. You may observe a person reacting poorly to criticism; you speak very arrogantly with regard to the reactions to criticism.  You believe that a poor reaction is a sign of mental and emotional immaturity.

Perhaps YOU are being criticized and are reacting poorly, according to public opinion.  Your ideas then change, because you are now the subject of critique.

So you see, discourse ensues because you are an ever changing and adaptive being, and so too are other beings changing and adapting to the environment, as well as the language in use to say, do and be.

Learn the lesson.  That’s my advice.

Sin Jones

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