Discourse Communities

Analyze One of Your Discourse Communities

In this assignment, you, individually, will analyze speech patterns/ the linguistics for one of your discourse communities.

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No secondary research is involved. Do not submit secondary research.

This is a primary research project with you as the sole author and researcher.

Before you begin the research project, it is important to understand your discourse community.

Read: What is a Discourse Community.


1.Think about all the discourse communities to which you belong.

2. Select one of your discourse communities to research for this assignment. The discourse community may be digital, if you choose.

3. Collect data to answer this research question and the subset of questions that are provided below: How does language and speech operate in this discourse community?

Research Directions

Observe / think about your discourse community for at least two hours, taking detailed field notes about how the members of that community verbally interact with one another (What are they doing? What kinds of things do they say? What do they write? Who is “in” the community and who is “out”?). Record as many notes as possible, including direct quotations from the members of the group. If possible, you should also collect artifacts from the community, particularly documents that can help you analyze how people in the community read and write (like text messages, memos, notes, forms, etc.).

Note: All identities in the discourse community, except yours, should remain anonymous.

Questions to answer in your research paper, with each question having at least two pieces of solid evidence (words; phrases; exact sentences, tone, diction, slang, etc.)

  • What are the shared verbal goals of the community? Why does the community exist?
  • What mechanisms do members verbally use to communicate with one another (meetings, phone calls, email, text messages, and so on)?
  • What verbal practices do members use to communicate? What patterns in their communication do you notice?
  • What are the purposes of each of these forms of communication?
  • Which of the above forms of communication can be considered genres (textual responses to recurring situations that all group members recognize and understand, such as a departmental memo or a family E-mail)?
  • What kinds of specialized language (lexis) do group members use? What function does that language serve?
  • Who are the verbal experts? Who are the verbal newcomers? How do the newcomers learn the appropriate language, genres, and knowledge of this group?
  • Who speaks the most frequently in this community? Who speaks the least? Why?
  • Are there verbal conflicts within the group? If so, why?
  • What sorts of “multi-literacies” do the members of this community possess?
  • What intertextual references do you notice? In other words, to whom do the members of the community refer? From where do the members borrow their language? One example: a church group’s reference to the Bible or the church minister’s sermons.
  • What are some less positive features of your discourse community? How might an outsider view your discourse community?

**Once you’ve collected and analyzed your data, return to the original research question and formulate an answer: How does language and linguistics operate in this discourse community? In other words, what makes the verbal skills, practices, or values in this community unique?

4. Write a 1400-1700 word analytical paper in which you articulate an answer to the research question and subset of questions. Explain your research methods, and share your findings to all the questions listed. Be concrete and specific on language used in your discourse community as possible. Provide evidence for all questions.

5. Format your paper consistent with MLA/ APA guidelines.


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