Discourse (Latin: discursus, “running to and fro”) is the term that describes written and spoken communications; its denotations include:

  • In semantics and discourse analysis: A generalization of the concept of conversation within all modalities and contexts.
  • The totality of codified language (vocabulary) used in a given field of intellectual enquiry and of social practice, such as legal discourse, medical discourse, religious discourse, et cetera.
  • In the work of Michel Foucault, and that of the social theoreticians he inspired: discourse describes “an entity of sequences, of signs, in that they are enouncements (énoncés)”.

An enouncement (l’énoncé, “the statement”) is not a unit of semiotic signs, but an abstract construct that allows the signs to assign and communicate specific, repeatable relations to, between, and among objects, subjects, and statements. Hence, a discourse is composed of semiotic sequences (relations among signs) between and among objects, subjects, and statements. The term discursive formation conceptually describes the regular communications (written and spoken) that produce such discourses. As a philosopher, Foucault applied the discursive formation in the analyses of large bodies of knowledge, such as political economy and natural history.

In the first sense-usage (semantics and discourse analysis), the word discourse is studied in corpus linguistics. In the second sense (the codified language of a field of enquiry), and in the third sense (a statement, un énoncé), the analyses of discourse are effected in the intellectual traditions that investigate and determine the relations among language and structure and agency, as in the fields of sociology, feminist studies, anthropology, ethnography, cultural studies, literary theory, and the philosophy of science. Moreover, because discourses are bodies of text meant to communicate specific data, information, and knowledge, there exist internal relations within a given discourse, and external relations among discourses, because a discourse does not exist in isolation (per se), but in relation to other discourses, which are determined and established by means of interdiscourse and interdiscursivity. Hence, within a field of intellectual enquiry, the practitioners occasionally debate “What is” and “What is not” discourse, according to the conceptual meanings (denotation and connotation) used in the given field of study.

Read more about Discourse:  The Humanities, Modernism, Structuralism, Postmodernism, Feminism

Other articles related to "discourse, discourses":

Corpus-assisted Discourse Studies - Bibliography
... (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis ... (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK Press ... Discourse and Society 19(3), 273-306 ...
Simone Luzzatto - Expulsion of Jews - Discourse
... et in particolar dimoranti nell'inclita città di Venetia ("Discourse Concerning the Condition of the Jews, and in particular those living in the Fair City of Venice") was completed in 1638 ... Further breaking from tradition, the discourse was not written in Hebrew, but rather in eloquent Italian ... As a result, the discourse was successful in convincing the Doge to rule against the expulsion edict, allowing the Jewish population of Venice to ...
Anattalakkhana Sutta
... or Anātmalakṣaṇa Sūtra (Sanskrit), is traditionally recorded as the second discourse delivered by Gautama Buddha ... The title translates to the "Not-Self Characteristic Discourse", but is also known as the Pañcavaggiya Sutta (Pali) or Pañcavargīya Sūtra (Skt.), meaning the "Group of Five" Discourse ...
Discourse - Feminism
... Feminists have explored the complex relationships that exist among power, ideology, language and discourse ...

Famous quotes containing the word discourse:

    Almost one half of our time is spent in telling and hearing evil of one another ... and every hour brings forth something strange and terrible to fill up our discourse and our astonishment.
    Laurence Sterne (1713–1768)

    In my experience, persons, when they are made the subject of conversation, though with a Friend, are commonly the most prosaic and trivial of facts. The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the character of individuals. Our discourse all runs to slander, and our limits grow narrower as we advance. How is it that we are impelled to treat our old Friends so ill when we obtain new ones?
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Moralists love to discourse on the hollowness of success; about the hollowness of failure they are silent.
    Mason Cooley (b. 1927)