Discourse Analysis In Language

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Introduction & Text Selection Discourse (or textual) analysis refers to a broad spectrum of methodologies within the field of applied linguistics that aim to evaluate the functional use of language in a fuller textual, social and psychological context. The application of these various techniques allows researchers to better understand how individuals and groups interpret the world around them via their use of language. In short, the analysis of text allows us to look ‘beyond the sentence’ (Thornbury, 2005). For the purpose of this study, two recent opinion articles regarding the actions of Dr Matt Taylor will be analysed and compared. A scientist working on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Philae project, Taylor’s risqué choice of attire…show more content…
Modality Analysis of Text 1 Once analysed, the most striking aspect of text 1 is the distinct dearth of modality. In an article of almost 500 words, there are only 4 recorded instances, 3 of which are attributed to the authors themselves (see appendix A: table A1). This implies that the writers are highly committed to their beliefs, seeing the majority of their text as factual, rather than hypothetical. The only instance of deontic modality is provided by Dr Taylor, who uses the modal auxiliary verb should as a means of indicating medium conviction in an expected turn of events. This is surprising, given that: a) deontic modality expresses how things ought to be, and: b) the article is critical of both Taylor and the ESA’s actions. Instead, the 3 instances of modality attributed to the authors are all epistemic in nature. Examples 1 & 2, components of the same sentence, offer the writers’ interpretations of Taylor & Prizeman’s reactions to the fallout of…show more content…
In the first instance, must is used to highlight Taylor & Prizeman’s ignorance regarding their transgressions. This precedes the authors’ adoption of might as a means of displaying low certainty in misconduct on behalf of the subjects. This use of modality clearly implies that Taylor & Prizeman acted insensitively, they didn’t think the shirt would offend anyone, nor took the time to contemplate why it may do so. Given that the images on the shirt in question are increasingly seen as unsuitable in the current social landscape, they are also perceived as being out of touch with modern realities. Finally, the use of the word creation is clearly derogatory and de-legitimising, alluding to something tawdry or unseemly. ‘No one asked him to take it off, because presumably they didn't think about

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