A tentative map of discourse studies and their place in Linguistics


  • Michael Hoey




In this paper I want to look at a range of approaches to discourse analysis with a view not to describing any of them in detail but to seeing how they relate to each other in the discipline. Surveys are a necessary evil at best; they inevitably offend by simplification and omission and ometimes by distortion as well. Despite my best endeavours, this survey is unlikely to be any exception. By way of compensation the latter part of the paper attempts a tentative characterisation of the place of discourse studies within linguistics in general and seeks to suggest why there are differences in focus between such studies; if this part of the paper offends, it will at least offend by commission. Discourse analysis has become over the past few years one of the growth areas of modern linguistics. As a result there is now far more being written every year than any person could possibly read. In estimates prepared for an inter-University working party on a computerised bibliography of ESP and Discourse Analysis, Hoey & de Escorcia reported that in 1981 an estimated 5,000 papers and 200 books were published on discourse. A consequence of this growth has been a parallel growth in terminological distinctions, reflected most schismatically perhaps in the two labels given to the sub-discipline(s) we study - discourse analysis and textlinguistics.