Post #13: The Concept of Discourse Community

Hooray our last article for the semester! For this last reading I read “The Concept of Discourse Community” by John Swales who breaks down the meaning and the controversies behind the discourse community.Before even getting into the article a forward is used to communicate with the reader the breakdown of the following article. This helped me out greatly while reading the actual article because the forward told me how the first two sections are a bit wordy and unfocused, but the third section is where the information that needs to be known comes in.

In the first section, Swales talks about how there needs to be a clarification for what the difference is between a discourse community and a speech community. This ultimately sets up his next section where he goes in depth on how speech and discourse communities vary. For example, in a speech community members usually gain membership at birth whereas in a discourse community members are recruited by persuasion, training, and or relevant qualifications.

The third section is where the good stuff comes up: what are the qualifications that define whether or not something is a discourse community? In this section, Swales gives us the six criteria for determining a discourse community. According to him a discourse community must have a common set of public goals, have mechanisms of intercommunications, provide information and feedback, possess one or more genres, have a specific lexis, and a ratio between experts and novices in the community. With this criteria in mind, Swales then gives an example of a discourse community, the Hong Kong Study Circle, and then goes on to talk about how it meets all of the criteria mentioned before in the previous section.

Overall this article will be very helpful when it comes time for me to choose the community I will be analyzing in my project, as it will give me the criteria to make sure is found in my community.


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