Discourse Communities

Virginia Yonkers’ latest blog post introduces a concept that is new to me, where membership of a community is legitimised predominantly by language. Reflecting on ongoing analysis of her research into distributed groups, she suggests expertise might be defined by profession, department or organisational power structures, and goes on to describe the tensions that arise when there is conflict between these different discourse communities, and how they might be resolved.

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7 Responses to “Discourse Communities”

  1. Luisa Miguel Says:

    Hi Andy,
    In first place – thank you very much for this exelent idea of bringed up on twitter, a relevant issue as the Discourse Communities is the present days. The concept is new for me aswell but another benefict of your tweet, is that has pushed me alredy in to a brief research on net, out of the original text from Virginia Yonkers last post blog. Still, after some reflection about this subject, I dont feel confortable to make a coment on this… I just can express my simple opinion about one of the themes that catched my attention form the begening – the question of the tensions that may araise from existant conflict betwteen different community speechs and how they could be solved. To support a brief opion on this, I founded a short article form Erik Borg (University of Leeds) called “Key Concepts in ElT – Discourse Community” where this author makes an analsys of the main important defenitions of the term of D.C. itself, crossing some of the relevant thinkers trought the last years investigation on this concept.
    I took a time concentrated in the last stage of his thought, when he argues about thes question of “Stablisb” and “Power” of the the D.C. By what I understood – if D.C. are strong establed in their foundations, from normativ rules, it can leed the young members to follow the main expectations of the community whitout resistance. In that sense, could be a problem to legimated the onw discourse language from the beginers? If theire legitimed by their language, what alternative comes when theres no initial acepttance from community on this form of expression? is this bring up too, some ethical efects on the way youngest members will continuate to communicate whit the “old” members of the community? Acepting the vision of Gargah (2002), Erik Borg shows in the article that the established normative rules can left away power of the begening members. In alternative he sugests that young members should “appropriate” themselfes of the D.C. after the “destruction” of the rules of the D.C. in order to fell up too objectives: to embrace their own propusols and also to renew the inside of d.C. itself. I agree in part whit this vision. Sure D.C. can´t function well if it has rigid rules and such power inside that, can limit free participation from the new members but… destroing also the fundaments of what has been established previoulys, isn’t going to affect the all systm of the D.C. every time news members came in to? I’m probably very wrong about this but…it’s just may simple opinion. Thank again for bringing up the oportunity to reflect about this important matters.

    See on-line,

    Luísa Miguel

  2. Luisa Miguel Says:

    PS. Sorry forgouht to put a correction and bibliography references as during coment work, text desapered for two times and affected lots of things…
    In the text where is mention one author: “Gargah” is in fact: Canagarajah.

    Bibliography References:

    Canagarajah, A.S. (2002). ” Multilingual writers and academic Community:Towards a critical relationship. Journal of English for Academic pruposals. I/I: 29-44.

    Borg, Erik (2003). Discourse Community. Elt Journal. Oxford Journals.

    Tanks for your comphreension on this.

    Luísa Miguel

  3. virginia Yonkers Says:

    Luisa, an example of what you write about is the “texting” language which has crept into American English. Many of the older generation see this as the breakdown of proper “English” whereas experts see this as a newly developing discourse community.

  4. virginia Yonkers Says:

    One of the things about discourse communities is that often we don’t realize that we belong to one until we interact with others outside of the community. I would have thought that the idea of discourse community was familiar to you, until I realized that the concept is used mostly in the area of writing, writing instruction, and foreign/second language acquisition. Currently, being more used to working in the communication, professional education, management, and elearning communities, I forget that others may not be familiar with some of the concepts I have been trained in (and take for granted).

  5. Luisa Miguel Says:

    Hi Virginia,
    Your clarafication about some essencial aspects of Discourse Comunities, helped me a lot to have a better vision on this concept. Thank you for sharing in your blog, such interesting investigation about how Discourse Comunities affect communication in different groups of intercommunication. I appreciate a lot your theorie about the need for different chanels of communication on groups of interaction on D.C. I’ll keep my atention on your investigated work. See you and good luck.


  6. Andy Coverdale Says:

    Thanks for your comments Luisa. Virginia has written further on discourse communities in a new blog post.

  7. Luisa Miguel Says:

    Hi Andy, thank you also for the information. I’ll take a look at the new blog post later on. I enjoyed a lot to new Virginia’s blog from you.

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