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Article in International Journal of Applied Linguistics 18(1) O'Halloran, K.A. () Posthumanism and Deconstructing Arguments: Corpora and Digitally-Driven Critical Analysis, Abingdon: Routledge. 'Posthumanism and Deconstructing Arguments: Corpora and Digitally-driven. Discourse Analysis by H.G. Widdowson - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File . txt) or view presentation slides online. Introduction to Linguistic Study. Download Discourse Analysis by H.G. Widdowson.

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PDF download for Discourse analysis: a critical view, Article Information Widdowson, H.G. (a) Discourses of enquiry and conditions of relevance, in J. This book contains part of a conceptual tool kit that Henry Widdowson has employed and refined in his teaching of discourse analysis over many years. Figures; Related; Information. ePDF PDF. PDF · ePDF PDF · PDF. Tools. Request permission · Export citation · Add to favorites · Track citation.

The epistemic dimension here is the simple conceptual contradiction created by the incompatibility of interpretation and analysis.

The social dimension however has to do with how all the work carried out under the heading or paradigm of critical discourse analysis is at least partially invalid as it embodies or perpetuates this contradiction.

It could be said that Widdowson 16 is attempting to reduce the institutional and epistemic status of critical discourse analysis by construing its foundation as contradictory. Proceeding to tackle this contradiction and the resulting confusion, Widdowson turns to the history of linguistics and the work of Zellig Harris. These issues are reproduced below as instances of epistemic criticism: E4a.

Discourse analysis is seen as the study of language patterns beyond the sentence. Thus it follows that discourse is sentence writ large: quantitatively different but qualitatively the same phenomenon. It follows, too, of course, that you cannot have discourse below the sentence.

If the difference between sentence and discourse is not a matter of kind but only of degree, then they must signal the same kind of meaning. If sentence meaning is intrinsically encoded, that is to say, a semantic property of the language itself, then so is discourse meaning.

In this case interpretation cannot just be read off from the text as if it were an elongated sentence. But then if semantic and pragmatic meanings are different, how are they different, and by what principles can they be related? Do these terms mean the same thing and is he using them, as others seem to do, in free variation? If they do denote different things, what are they, and by what principles can they be related? According to Widdowson, common definitions have it that discourse analysis studies language units that are either bigger than the clause or bigger than the sentence.

This is confusing, because obviously units larger than clauses are usually sentences. Noting this in the works of some linguists leads Widdowson to some interpersonal criticism: S3. These comments are curiously uncritical. It is surely the purpose of intellectual analysis to counter such loose talk.

As it is, the ambiguity and confusion remain, more firmly established by being so readily indulged. Widdowson is taking the community at large to task for failing to uphold the standards of rigour and precision, indirectly accusing some individuals of propagating confusion. As for the epistemic issue, Widdowson is of course correct in pointing out that if you understand discourse analysis as studying linguistic units which are larger than the clause, then, in accordance with what I understand to be standard linguistic knowledge, you are implying that your interest is in sentences.

But they have already been covered by syntax, making your endeavours redundant. Indeed, the only way to make sense of discourse analysis is to think of it as examining language above the level of the sentence. After all, all the other bases have been covered: from phonology and morphology to lexis, lexical bundles and phrases, and from phrases to clauses and sentences.

What about confusion then?

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I do think that Widdowson has a case for pointing out that there is some terminological confusion about. But, again, he is himself guilty of exacerbating it. This time the problem is not cohesive or logical, but rather semantic. In E4a.

Discourse Analysis Widdowson H G

Instead of it being apparent that the question is one of size, i. The problem here is that beyondness indicates not only aboveness but also difference or generally exceeding limits.

Thus, discourse analysis could also be seen as linguistic analysis that is different from syntactic analysis. If so seen, discourse analysis could be understood as any kind of linguistics that is not syntax, or indeed any kind of linguistics that is simply novel. This terminological confusion is perhaps purely incidental and a minor point that is easily dismissed, especially since beyondness apparently generally connotes going up rather than down, but in a context of criticizing confusion it is also not very helpful.

Moving on to issue E4d. It is, indeed, so orthodox a view that it seems perverse, not to say foolhardy, to question it. Widdowson, , p. Furthermore, [t]his is where discourse comes in and why it needs to be distinguished from text. As I have tried to show, we achieve meaning by indexical realisation, that is to say by using language to engage our extra-linguistic reality.

Unless it is activated by this contextual connection, the text is inert. It is this activation, this acting of context on code, this indexical conversion of the symbol that I refer to as discourse.

Discourse in this view is the pragmatic process of meaning negotiation. Text is its product. Widdowson also presents in this context an interesting instance of social criticism: S4. It might be objected that I am giving unwarranted attention to relatively trivial uses of language, indulging in critical nit-picking. He is also verbalizing a possibly rather common response to criticism and then denying it by pointing out that in this case the issue is not trivial.

This example could be seen as operating on two levels: on a meta-level as commenting on the frustration that detailed criticism can cause, and on an interpersonal level controlling possible responses to keep the focus on what is seen as the issue.

The epistemic the textuality of public notices thus trumps the social negative reactions to criticism that is perceived to be beside the point. Proceeding to discuss issue E4c. Distinction is here made between the pragmatic notions of reference locution , force illocution and effect perlocution which are all understood as functions of discourse and not features of text.

The former two are intentional, so that the speaker refers to something or someone with certain force and in so doing has the intention of causing some effect in the hearer. Crucially, however, Widdowson argues that the hearer may either fail to recognize the intention and thus fail to activate the effect intended, or he or she may also choose to not ratify it: [w]here your reality corresponds to mine, or where you are prepared to co-operate in seeing things my way, then there can be convergence between intention and interpretation.

Otherwise, there will be a disparity.

You will be taking me out of context — out of the context of my reality. I will limit myself to the last of these. So, as was already implied in the quotation above, the problem with critical discourse analysis is as follows: E5.

Second persons may simply refuse to converge, insist on the primacy of their own ideological position, and so derive from the text the discourse which fits their preconceived ideological commitment. What this amounts to is a denial of the co-operative principle. And this, I believe, is precisely what happens with a good deal of critical discourse analysis.

It presents a partial interpretation of text from a particular point of view.

It is partial in two senses: first, it is not impartial in that it is ideologically committed, and so prejudiced; and it is partial in that it selects those features of the text which support its preferred interpretation.

The issues here are clearly epistemic in the sense that they pertain to the pragmatic principle of co-operation and the nature of analysis. But they are also social, as it seems that a significant part of the problem is not the failures or errors per se of critical discourse analysis, but rather the perhaps active and conscious denial by its practitioners to take certain perceived commonplaces into consideration.

The observance of this super-maxim and its associated sub-maxims is seen to increase the rationality of conversation and is essential in working out what Grice called conversational implicatures. Widdowson could thus be said to be arguing that critical discourse analysis is irrational. But his choice of words is curious: Grice was aware that one can violate, flout or opt out of maxims.

Furthermore, critical discourse analysis is not strictly speaking a conversational exchange, although it is probably not purely monologic either. In this sense the use of the co-operative principle as grounds for criticism is not thoroughly convincing. It is surely an equally well-recognized fact that people do not necessarily 23 follow the co-operative principle or its attendant maxims and that in some cases lying might be easier than telling the truth, if one is for example more accustomed to dishonesty.

Remembering how Grice is suggesting that co-operation is also a normative principle, he also seems to be saying that it is better and more rational always to tell the truth.

Surely this is an unduly idealistic and narrow view of what it is rational for someone to say in some given situation. What about partiality then? Widdowson finds that critical discourse analysis is just that because it commits itself to a particular perspective and because it does not explore other analytical avenues or interpretative possibilities. This has led him to conclude that it is interpretation instead of analysis, the latter entailing for him the investigation of different interpretations and their linguistic triggers.

In this Widdowson seems to agree with e. Max Weber in arguing that the role of the universities or the sciences is not to adopt extreme evaluative positions or to seek middle ground between extremes by compromising.

In terms of the social aspect of this criticism, the argument seems to be that universities and the sciences should be governed by scientists and scientific principles even though politicians can and should be informed by objective studies. A similar 24 argument about the separation of the academic and the political has been put forward by Hammersley Summary and discussion To summarize, Widdowson has presented the following epistemic issues in his article: E1.

Discourse is a diverse concept E2. There is general linguistic confusion about, namely a. The use of the word discourse will indicate that the speaker is aware of linguistic trends and little else S2.

The purpose of intellectual analysis is to counter ambiguity and confusion and the academic community should not indulge such vices S3. Critical discourse analysts choose to suspend their co-operative impulses for political purposes Many of these issues I have found to be unwarranted or unconvincing for reasons that should be apparent in the text above. The implication of this for critical discourse analysis is that the results of their analyses or interpretations would have to be seen as discourse itself, which it seems is well enough understood now Chilton et al.

As such, I am inclined to agree with Widdowson that there should really be no reason for academics to create, perpetuate or indulge confusion and unclarity. After all, there are plenty of other sources for these phenomena without the most highly educated getting involved. Whether confusion actually exists where someone sees it is of course another matter, but as a general rule of thumb I do believe it is to be avoided.

Of the combined critical issues one remains, namely that of the partiality of critical discourse analysis for the sake of political correctness.

As for the former, he points out that in Fairclough the distinction is made between interpretation the ordinary process of making meaning and explanation connecting the textual and the interpretative to a social context.

Furthermore, Fairclough , p.

This openness to alternative positions on the political spectrum of course in no way diminishes the political dimension of critical discourse analysis, but instead makes it apparent that there must always be some underlying set of political or, as the case appears to be more recently, ethical van Dijk, ; Chilton et al. But neither is it what conventional linguistic analysis of texts does — does that cease to be analysis, then? It is more normal to define as analysis any reasonably systematic application of reasonably well-defined procedures to a reasonably well-defined body of data.

On that count, CDA is analysis. Fairclough, , pp.

The difference between the two positions is that Widdowson demands more of the community, as has been seen above, whereas Fairclough is on the defensive. He knows that critical discourse analysis generally does not fulfill the more stringent criteria of scientific or academic work, just as many other approaches or individual studies fail to do. He then appeals to normalcy and reasonableness, which however is not very convincing when it comes to critical discourse analysis.

These are after all the values that I have understood to be traditional and important in research of any kind. Fairclough of course has more to say on this issue, since it is at the heart of the debate. The argument goes roughly as follows: being ideological means sustaining relations of domination, either overtly or usually covertly.

As such, any practice may work ideologically, and whether it does or does not is something that has to be established by analysis for each case separately. A similar argument has been put forward by Billig as regards conversation analysis. The conclusion from all this is that yes, critical discourse analysis is partial.

It appears to be the case that critical analysts are informed by political considerations because they want to be able to expose the political in their work and change things according to their political preferences.

Those willing to uphold objectivity however wish to keep the political as secondary and focus on investigating some other aspects of their objects for some other purposes.

The problem in terms of academic criticism is not that these two positions are incompatible, but that they are construed as such. Whether you would side with the former or the latter or some other position is perhaps ultimately up to you.

Conclusion In conclusion, a few issues remain to be addressed. These include assessing the adopted theoretical framework and relating the findings to it, examining the results of the investigation and their implications in the context that was given for this case, and offering some concluding remarks about the debated issues in a participatory spirit. I will also outline some possible directions for further research. In this approach academic criticism has been seen as 29 consisting of two aspects, the epistemic and the social, and operating contextually.

I find this approach to have been useful as it has allowed identifying and addressing the issues raised by Widdowson in a relatively comprehensive and detailed manner. The epistemic issues have been such that discussing them has taken place by investigating the relevant literature or, when that has not seemed possible or appropriate, by employing informal logic and argumentative reasoning.

In so doing I have not only referenced literature but also found that Widdowson for example has not been able to fulfill his own requirements of clarity and precision. While such tu quoque -type arguments are usually counted as fallacies, I do believe it is only fair to point this out.

See a Problem?

In this I diverge slightly from other commentators of critical discourse analysis and its critics by seeing the issue as pertaining to the legitimacy of certain kinds of academic work and their role in society rather than as a question of the validity of knowledge claims. In contextualizing the case at hand I mentioned that critical discourse analysis in general and Fairclough in particular have been extensively criticized.

According to him, whenever the possibility of choosing between two paradigms appears, for example between transdisciplinary critical discourse analysis and multidisciplinary pragmatic discourse analysis, it will be impossible to achieve perfect understanding. This is so, because the different paradigms or schools satisfy their own criteria but not the criteria of the other, and because the problems that the different paradigms ask are to a certain extent different.

This incommensurability is something that can be settled only by external criteria, such as values. Kuhn In the course of this investigation I have construed the incompatibility as pertaining to completeness, distance, and objectivity on the one side and to commitment, involvement, and urgency on the other.

These perspectives are certainly very different, and ultimately one simply needs to choose. I do not think, however, that choosing one over the other means that the other is redundant or wrong, or that one cannot do both although perhaps not at the same time. The notion of choice is certainly something that seems to underlie much of the critical discussions about critical discourse analysis. Indeed, Schegloff a, p. Another is to ask: are critical approaches evaluated differently from non-critical approaches?

If so, how and why? One could also be interested in seeing whether the adopted framework would work for other instances of criticism, whether aimed at critical discourse analysis or some other approach. A more general research direction would examine the different value-based positions in a broader social context. References Babaii E. Hard Science, Hard Talk? Billig M. Whose Terms?

Whose Ordinariness? Rhetoric and Ideology in Conversation Analysis. The language of critical discourse analysis: the case of nominalization. Breeze R. Critical discourse analysis and its critics. Pragmatics 21, Chilton P. Reflections on discourse and critique in China and the West.

Journal of Language and Politics 9, Chouliaraki L. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. In van Eemeren F. Argumentation in Practice. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins pp. Fairclough N. Discourse and Social Change.

Cambridge: Polity Press. Language and Literature 5, In Fairclough N. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited pp. Fowler R. On critical linguistics.

Widdowson Henry. Discourse Analysis

In Caldas-Coulthard C. London: Routledge pp. The language of critical discourse analysis: reply to Michael Billig. Frye N. Giannoni D. Grice P. Studies in the Way of Words. Haig E. Halliday M. Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold. Should Social Science Be Critical? London: Edward Arnold. Google Scholar Horgan, J. Google Scholar Hyland, K. Google Scholar Kenny, V. Goudsmit ed.

Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag. Google Scholar Lemke, J. Google Scholar Maturana, H. Dordrecht: Reidel. Boston: Shambhala. Google Scholar Prigogine, I. San Francisco: W. New York: The Free Press. Google Scholar Reis, J. Google Scholar Santos, B. Porto: Edicoes Afrontamento. Porto: EdicOes Afrontamento. Google Scholar Sarangi, S.

Sarangi and M. Coulthard eds , Discourse and Social Life. London: Longman, pp. Google Scholar Schegloff, E. Whose context?

Discourse Analysis by H.G. Widdowson

Google Scholar Stubbs, M. Google Scholar Thompson, J. Google Scholar Widdowson, H. Google Scholar Wodak, R. Wodak ed. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. Wodak and M. Meyer eds , Methods ofCritical Discourse Analysis.If the difference between sentence and discourse is not a matter of kind but only of degree, then they must signal the same kind of meaning. Old Password.

Distinction is here made between the pragmatic notions of reference locution , force illocution and effect perlocution which are all understood as functions of discourse and not features of text. I would like to express my deepest thanks to Luisa Azuaga and Vicky Hartnack for their constructive reactions to an earlier version of this chapter.

At the level of text and discourse criticism takes on the general meaning of explanation. The issues here are clearly epistemic in the sense that they pertain to the pragmatic principle of co-operation and the nature of analysis.

It is very difficult to accept that you can have it both ways, even if the point here is that those who accept the above definition are in the wrong. Jaakko Naski Criticizing critical discourse analysis: A case study in academic criticism H.

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