Approaches to Discourse Analysis

Cynthia Gordon, Editor

A groundbreaking collection by leading scholars that spans a broad range of social situations, cultural contexts, and analytic perspectives
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A groundbreaking collection by leading scholars that spans a broad range of social situations, cultural contexts, and analytic perspectives

The contemporary landscape of discourse analysis—which examines spoken, written, and multimodal communication—is so diverse that, as volume contributor Deborah Tannen observes, “discourse” has become almost synonymous with “language” and, for many scholars, extends well beyond it. The ways in which we communicate grow and change and so do approaches to discourse analysis along with the diversity of topics, analytic contexts, and disciplinary foundations. How do we conceptualize discourse? What are the various approaches to studying it? And how can we put these approaches into dialogue?

Scholars within the field of linguistics and beyond contribute to this volume with discourse analyses in multiple languages, contexts, and modes. These snapshots show the different ways language is used in modern social situations—from email messages between professors and students, to Twitter activism, to political trolling on online news articles, to video-chats between US doctors and patients. Collectively, the chapters highlight the diversity and complexity of the field. Across these varied approaches, what emerges is a common understanding of communication as fundamentally connected to human agency and creativity and as embedded in and constitutive of our social and cultural worlds.

Approaches to Discourse Analysis demonstrates the importance of the diverse perspectives that various approaches to discourse bring to bear on human communication. Linguists and other readers interested in the interplay of language and culture will gain new insight and understanding from this rich compilation.

Table of Contents




Cynthia Gordon

1. How Linguistic Anthropologists Conceptualize Relations among Different Forms of Discourse
Susan U. Philips

2. "Two Different Kinds of Life": A Cultural Analysis of Blackfeet Discourse
Donal Carbaugh and Eean Grimshaw

3. Gesture, Mimesis, and the Linguistics of Time
Jürgen Streeck

4. The Ambiguity and Polysemy of Power and Solidarity in Professor-Student Emails and Conversations among Friends
Deborah Tannen

5. What Do Discourse Markers Mark? Arabic yani (It Means) and Hebrew ya'ani across Modalities and Sociolinguistic Systems
Michal Marmorstein

6: Reconsidering the Concept of "Total Institutions" in Light of Interactional Sociolinguistics: The Meaning of the Marker "Here"
Branca Telles Ribeiro and Diana de Souza Pinto

7. The Expression of Authority in US Primary Care: Offering Diagnoses and Recommending Treatment
John Heritage

8. Semiotic Ideologies and Trial Discourse: Implications for Multimodal Discourse Analysis
Susan Ehrlich

9. Repair as Activism on Arabic Twitter
Najma Al Zidjaly

10. Online Political Trolling as Bakhtin's Carnival: Putin's "Discrowning" by Pro-Ukrainian Commenters
Alla V. Tovares

11. From Post-Truth to Post-Shame: Analyzing Far-Right Populist Rhetoric
Ruth Wodak




"In this very readable and engaging book, established discourse analysts and newer scholars discuss a thought-provoking variety of current issues in a stimulating collection edited by distinguished scholar Cynthia Gordon. The impressive range of fascinating topics–which include political trolling, Arabic Twitter, and Blackfeet discourse–as well as the variety of methodologies ensure this collection will appeal to a wide audience in this vibrant research area."—Janet Holmes, emeritus professor of linguistics, Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington

"Echoing Deborah Schiffrin's essential primer on discourse analysis, this volume is a fitting tribute to the breadth, creativity, and technical prowess of her oeuvre. Each chapter applies cutting edge theory and remixed methods to domains of interaction both familiar and new."—Scott Kiesling, professor of linguistics, University of Pittsburgh

"This collection of fascinating papers–representing a wide range of engaging topics as well as diverse approaches to discourse analysis–is sure to inspire any student or scholar with interests in language and interaction."—Camilla Vásquez, professor of linguistics, University of South Florida


Najma Al Zidjaly Donal Carbaugh Susan Ehrlich Eean Grimshaw John Heritage Michal Marmorstein Susan U. Philips Diana de Souza Pinto Branca Telles Ribeiro Jürgen Streeck Deborah Tannen Alla V. Tovares Ruth Wodak

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Cynthia Gordon uses theories and methods of discourse analysis to examine everyday social interactions in family, educational, and online and digital contexts. Author of Making Meanings, Creating Family, she was a 2012–13 fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She is a coeditor of Family Talk and Identity and Ideology in Digital Food Discourse.

256 pp., 6 x 9
21 figures, 15 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-109-9
Oct 2021

256 pp., 6 x 9
21 figures, 15 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-110-5
Oct 2021

256 pp.
21 figures, 15 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-111-2
Oct 2021

Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics series

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