Language, Literature, and Critical Practice: Ways of Analysing Text

By David Birch | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Afterword

The critical study of language is a study not just of the structures of language and texts, but of the people and institutions that shape the various ways language means. In a functional theory of language, analysts are not just interested in what language is, but why language is; not just in what language means, but how language means. In the critical linguistics that has developed since the mid-1970s, which forms the base of Chapter 1 in this book and against which many of the ideas outlined in the other chapters are problematized, the assumption is that the relationship between the form and content of texts is not arbitrary or conventional, but that it is determined (and constrained) culturally, socially, and ideologically by the power of institutional/discursive formations. The choices and selections that producers of text therefore make from the system of language are principled choices, instituted by social, messy, 'real' worlds of discourse, not by idealized abstract worlds. The structures-the forms-of language do not pre-exist social and cultural processes; they are not encoded in some sort of psychological imprint. The forms, and hence meanings, of language are shaped and determined by institutional forces. Analysis of text, therefore, according to this way of thinking, is analysis of ideologically loaded structures and meanings, not of innocent, arbitrary, random structures. Answering the question of how texts mean therefore answers the question of how institutions mean. This is therefore analysis concerned with discourse as process, not with language as idealized product.

Paul Ricoeur argues that structuralist linguistics excluded too many important aspects of language phenomena, most importantly the act of speaking, that is, language as performance (Ricoeur, 1981). Analysis of text that marginalizes language as meaningful activity therefore marginalizes (and, as we have seen, often excludes) the primary aim of language, which is to say something about something to someone, in order to do some-

-167-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Language, Literature, and Critical Practice: Ways of Analysing Text
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 214

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?