National open university of nigeria school of arts and social sciences

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ENG223 Discourse Analysis
3.3 Origin of Discourse Analysis

The term Discourse Analysis was first use by Zellig Harris in 1952 in a paper he published then. Harris was an American structural linguist, Harris did not use the term in the sense it is now commonly used. Later in the sands, scholars started using the term to describe an approach to the study of social interaction. The earliest discourse analysts were ethnographers, anthropologists and sociologists.
Self-assessment Exercises

Describe what in your own words what discourse analysts dob. Earliest Studies of Discourse Analysis

The earliest studies of discourse analysis were done by people in other disciplines namely, sociologists, anthropologists and ethnologists. Their major concern was not language, but social interaction. They developed a method for investigating such interaction, which they called Ethnomethodology. The proponent of this method is Harold Grafinke l an American sociologist. Other scholars who were inspired by ethnomethodologists focused their attention on how the conversation is ordered and structured. Their method is called Conversational
Analysis. They observe and describe the sequential patterning of conversation. The key figures in this school of thought are Emmanuel Schegloff, Harvey Sacksand Gail
Jeffesons. We shall examine in details the methods of Enthomethodology and Conversational Analysis later in this course. Much later, linguists who perceive language as asocial phenomenon got interested in analyzing discourse from that perspective. They see Linguistics as a subbranch of Sociology, as opposed to another school of thought, which sees Linguistics as a subbranch of Psychology (The Transformational Generative grammarians. The first major attempt to analyze discourse from the perspective of Linguistics was done by John Sinclair and Michael Coulthard of the University of Birminghan in the UK. They analysed the language used by teachers and pupils in the secondary school and proposed a five-point discourse rank scale for analyzing discourse. After these scholars, other scholars in the Birmingham School have followed their theory.

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