Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis

By Carmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard; Malcolm Coulthard | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Problems with the representation of face and its manifestations in the discourse of the ‘old-old’

Dino Preti

INTRODUCTION

This work is based on examples taken from tape-recordings made for a project entitled ‘Projeto da linguagem dos idosos velhos (LIV)’ (The speech of the old-old), comprising some fifty studies involving the interaction between young and old speakers in a wide variety of contexts—at home, in old people’s homes and in rest homes. We have also used, exceptionally, some recordings from the ‘Projeto de estudo da norma lingüística urbana culta de São Paulo (NURC/SP)’ (Study of the educated urban linguistic norm of São Paulo, Brazil).

The subjects are all normal and lucid, and in general the topics chosen concern their past, a comparison between their youth and today, and an analysis of changes in customs. During the interviews, the young interviewers on many occasions became real interlocutors.

The interviews were recorded in rest homes, geriatric clinics or in the subjects’ homes. Most of the subjects belonged to the middle class, had completed at least primary school and lived off their retirement pension or were helped by their families. No significant difference between male and female speakers could be detected at the level of discourse.


THE OLD-OLD AS A SOCIAL GROUP

First, we must consider up to what point the very old can be classified as a social group or category.

From the sociological point of view the word ‘group’ can be interpreted as ‘a community of interests, as a casual gathering of individuals: a unitarian community in time and space, or the opposite, a scattered community which is conscious of itself or linked only by some characteristic purposes’ (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1978:61).

The idea of a ‘community conscious of itself is, perhaps, a point of approximation among these individuals, at least in terms of the awareness of old age, of the age factor as a limiter of social participation; or

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