Applied Psycholinguistics 2:2

Book Reviews




James, L.A. A review of „Discourse Analysis in Second Language Research.š

Psycholinguistics, 1981, 2, 185ų191.





Discourse analysis in second language research. D. Larsen-Freeman, (Ed.). Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House, 1980. Paperback. Pp. 187.


There is a good degree of self-consciousness involved in the task of doing a book review for a journal in „applied psycholinguisticsš since it stands to reason that writing a book review is an application of one's „psycholinguistic abilities.š This self-consciousness is amplified, in this case, given that the book under review is on „discourse analysis.š In view of this double interest, I thought it well to give here not only a review of this book but, as well, a comment on the topic. Since the book editor‚s intent was to introduce ESL-teachers („English as a Second Languageš) to „What is discourse analysis,š it is pertinent to examine the answers the contributors provide. This then gets us into the: "topicš of discourse analysis, which is of course broader than the book, especially for readers of Applied Psycholinguistics.


The format. Short enough to be a special issue of AP, the book offers ten articles on research, method, and theory by ESL specialists who are united through tile joint focus of the editor D. Larsen- Freeman. The 19 contributors are, in order of appearance, E. I-latch, M. H. Long, M. Celce-Murcia, S. Vander Brook, K. Schlue, C. Campbell, B. Fraser, E. Rintell, J. Walters, D. Godfrey, 13. Arthur, R. Weiner, M. Culver, Y. Ja Lee, D. Thomas, W. H. Gaskill, J. Schwarts, S. Peck, R. L. Allwright.


There is a review of the book‚s content by the editor in a brief introduc–tion. There is no index, but tile use of large bold face types throughout the book makes it easy to identify topics and subtopics as one thumbs through the pages. There are about 200 references cited in total. My impression is that the ideas of the following writers are most central to the work on discourse analysis by ESL-specialists: Austin, Bellack, Bolinger, Chafe, Chomsky, Coulthard, Ervin-Tripp, Ferguson, Flanders, Goffman, G rice, Gumperz, Halliday, Hatch, Henzel, Hymes, Labov, Mehan, Politzer, Rich–ards, Sacks, Searle, Schegloff, Stevick.


The terminology. I found nothing in the articles that was too technical from the point of view of „psycholinguistics.š Methodologically, the articles were varied and include literature reviews, grammatical analyses of errors by ESL-learners under various conditions, conversational and textual analyses, an (l ease-history. The most recurrent background orientation theoretically, is that of sociolinguistics and Ethnomethodology. Table 1 lists those terms which I had underlined in the course of my reading of the book They represent the presuppositional elements of „discourse analysis theoryš as presented in this book. These are the technical concepts arid „background assumptionsš held in common by the contributors, that is, their „cognitive map."


The arguments. I will list what seem to me the most important or notewor–thy propositions about discourse analysis which can be found in this book. However, since I am writing this for a readership specializing in psycholin–guistics and psychology, rather than linguistics and ESL, I shall not neces–sarily use the same terminology as the authors use in the articles being reviewed. Later in this review, I shall have occasion to comment on this overlap in terminology, and its significance for the acceptance of „discourse analysisš as a topic in psycholinguistics.


I shall now present 17 propositions as found in my. annotations in the margins of the book. These represent how I tried to make sense and integrate the information on discourse analysis to be found in this book.


A.   Discourse analysis is a method for generating data about the characteristics or natural speech events. This orientation attempts to connect linguistic phenomena to their communicative function. This last concept implies „naturalš social settings where speech events take place during social interaction and exchange. (I-latch/Long)

B.   Research and theory in discourse analysis involves the mapping or the connections that can be found between linguistic speech data and the communicative function they serve in particular social circumstances. (Hatch/ Long)

C.   This mapping process has been successful thus far in research on public or formal encounters, perhaps because the social and linguistic connection can be made explicit as role phenomena. ( Hatch/ Long)

D.   Research on discourse structure reveals two levels of choice behavior in speech: one utterance form. which involves the active management of the rituals („rulesš) of talk; the other, utterance content, which involves the active management of feeling reactions („affectš) as these occur in social relationships. (Hatch/Long)

E.   contextual analysis of English (a type of discourse analysis) is task of discovering and learning the distribution frequency of linguistic forms for discourse types (e.g., „written or spoken, planned or unplanned. spontaneous or elicitedš). ESL teachers would find this profitable. (e.g., examining „the function and frequency of the passive voice in formal scientific writing in order to improve the English technical writing skills of nonnative-speaking engineersš). (Celce- Murcia)

F.   Particular social contexts govern appropriate and normative speech role

behaviors (e.g., „He doesn‚t have much money.š vs. „lie doesn‚t have a

lot of money.š Again: „I did the job.š vs. „I myself did the job.š)




Table 1.  The discourse őcontent‚ of „discourse analysisš talk and the pages on which they appear



Linguistics pragmatics I

Speech act 3, 77

Speech event 4 ff

Conversation 4, 139

Implicature 5

Context 7

Narrative descriptions 8

Discourse units 9

Communication routines 10

Sociolinguists 10

Text analysis 10

Paragraph writing 11

Back-channeling 12, 31

Skill in monologue development


Oral discourse 13

Talk data 13

Planned speech 13

Written discourse 13

Unplanned oral discourse 13

Deictics 13

Real conversations 14

Text types 16

Pedagogic function 18

Transaction 19

Situation 19

Tactics 19

Back-shadowing 21

Real-time coding 25

Videotapes 25

Classroom discourse analysis 25

Communication game 25

Conversational analysis 28, 138

Directives 28

Commissives 28

Warrants 29

Transcripts 30

Communication model 30

Conversational signals 30

Ritual constraints 31

Territoriality 31

Management of conversations


Semiotics 35

Contextual analysis 41

Conversational discourse 41

Pragmatic analysis 44

Acceptability of judgments 51

Modified close procedure 51

Yes/No Questions 57

Shared knowledge 59

Presupposition of Yes/No

answers 59ff.

Social setting 75

Sociolinguistic competence 75

Pragmatic 75

Role-playing 75

Research paradigms 75


distinction 76

Acceptability 76

Grammaticality 76

Pragmatic competence 77

Social context 77, 112

Communicative competence 78

Conversational interaction 78

Ethnomethodological studies 78

Utterance level 78

Semantic formulas/strategies


Language-culture pairing 79

Contextual factors 81

Formulaic strategies 85

Sociolinguistics variation 87

Naturalistic request 88

Error rates 92

Self-corrections 10

Topic-related continuities 109

Topic continuity maintenance


Subtopic continuities 109

Episode boundaries 109

Extralinguistic details 109

Foreigner talk 111

Foreigner register 112

Language switching 112

Register shifting 112

Classroom language 113

Speech dyads 113

Content analysis 120

Correction phenomenon 125 if

Modulation 127

Pause 127

Transcription symbols 137, 153, 164, 168ų9

Discourse environment 138

Negotiation 138

Repairs 138 ff

Self-repairs 141 if

Language play 154ff

Modeling 155, 167, 175

Intrinsic motivation 157

Practice opportunities 160

Affective climate 160

Case studies 165 if

Learning situations 166

Management of participation


Management of learning 166

Macro-analysis 166

Turn-taking analysis 168ff.

Topic analysis 174ff.

Task analysis 178ff



Applied Psycholinguistics 2:2 book Reviews


G .  Observed variations in linguistic form are places that mark salient social psychological features. Therefore, contextual analysis is a form of analysis of variance for discovering the cognitive organization of social attitudes, rules, and expectations in a community. This may be conceptualized as a Psycholinguistic Atlas, leading one to make empirically testable hypotheses regarding acceptability judgments, as a dependent measure (e.g., Suppose it was discovered that Shakespeare had a secret co-author; would you then say „Shakespeare wrote with Smithš or „Smith wrote with Shakespeare?š) (Celce-Murcia)


H.  Variations in linguistic form (e.g., „Do you like artichokes?š vs. "You like artichokes?š) have empirically identifiable casual factors in their social context. Such an empirical ethnosemantic matrix or taxonomy has already been attempted (included arc 7 main levels ų e.g., linguistic, semantic, situational, etc., and 23 sub-levels ų e.g., tinder „semanticš, planned vs. unplanned action). (Celce-Murcia) (Vander Brook/Schlue/ Campbell)  Second language acquisition involves learning discourse analysis since natives use utterance form (syntax and intonation) to signal presuppositions (e.g., perspective, shared knowledge, degree of certainty)

(Vander Brook/Schlue/Campbell)


J .   Second language learners use a type of contrastive discourse analysis which helps them become aware of cross-cultural differences and similarities in the ritual strategies of speech acts (e.g.. when learners doing role-playing vary the form of requests in hypothetical social circumstances). (Fraser/Rintell/ Walters)


K.   Role-playing can be used to discover the repertoire of semantic strategies speakers use under specified (experimental) conditions. By contrasting native patterns or normative models with patterns emitted by a particular group (child vs. adult; native vs. foreigner; popular vs. loner: etc.). the researcher has available a convenient methodology for investigating social psycholinguistic and developmental psycholinguistic phenomena („Pragmatic Competenceš). (Fraser/Rintell/ Walters)


L.   Linguistic errors made by second language learners (e.g., tense) can sometimes be traced to the inability of maintaining topic-related continuity. Episode boundaries and extralinguistic detail are often sources of distraction. (Godfrey)


M.   Certain variations in linguistic form are controlled by audience factors (e.g., is the listener a child? a foreigner?). This is called register shifting (e.g., regular vs. simplified and, elaborate vs. simple). By varying speech dyads on sociological and sociopsychological dimensions (e.g., selected foreigners calling up airline ticket agents and asking unexpected questions), the investigator can then use the linguistic, semantic, and topicalization strategies observed in the dyadic exchange to discover the cognitive dynamics of speech behavior. (Arthur/ Weiner/Culver/ Lee/ Thomas)


N.   Social talk has an interactive discourse structure (e.g., what a speaker says can routinely be modified or „correctedš: This is called, modu–lation). By examining the places in discourse where such interactive discourse occurs, the investigator can map the distributional features of self-correction and other-correction in conversation (e.g., uncertainty loci. disagreements, restatements, etc.). (Gaskill)


0.   By structuring the context of a group conversation through instructions or role-playing (i.e., the discourse environment), the researcher can analyze the ensuing interactive discourse in larger discourse segments than the



Table 2. The terminology used in the 17 propositions about discourse analysis




Overlapping terminology (with book contributors)

Non-overlapping terminology (contributed by author of this review)

Discourse analysis

Linguistic phenomena

Social setting

Public encounters

Utterance form

Management rituals

Utterance content

Feeling reactions

Contextual analysis

Discourse types

Social contexts

Acceptability judgments


Strategies of speech acts


Turn-taking analysis

Topic continuity

Episode boundaries

Extralinguistic details

Register shifting

Speech dyads



Self-correction (repair)

Other-correction (repair)



Discourse environment

Child-child discourse

Language play

Case-study approach

Topic management

Cognitive operations

Natural speech events

Communicative function

Social interaction


Linguistic speech data

Social circumstances

Role phenomena

Discourse structure

Choice behavior

Distributional frequency

*Speech role behaviors

Analysis of variance

Cognitive organization

*Psycholinguistic Atlas

Empirically identifiable

*Ethnosemantic matrix

Contrastive discourse analysis

Cross-cultural differences

Normative speech role modeling

Native Patterns

*Sociopsycholinguistic Developmental psycholinguistic


Audience factors

Sociopsychological dimensions

Topicalization work

Cognitive dynamics

*lnteractive discourse

Distributional features

Uncertainty loci

Speech repertoire


usual sentence, utterance, or talking turn (e.g., how interactants negotiate őrepairš in topicalization work. Second language learners appear to do this similarly to native speakers. (Schwartz.)


P.   Young children use language play to practice and expand their speech repertoire. Social play in child ų child discourse is „intrinsically motivatingš in cooperative and competitive exchanges, and is accom–panied by intense positive or negative affect (e.g., joy vs. frustration). (Peck)


Q.   Sociological and social psychological facts can be uncovered through the

case-study approach in which the speech behavior of a single speaker in a

conversation is analyzed with regards to turn taking topic management.

and cognitive operations. (Allwright)


These are then the 17 propositions I was able to extract from the book. I found that in order to make the book‚s content meaningful, I had to paraphrase and translate their discourse into my own cognitive framework. My impression was that my discourse about „discourse analysisš ų or my "meta-discourse,š was quite different from the book‚s meta-discourse. However I changed my mind when I actually ran a contrastive check, as shown in Table 2.


As can be seen, the overall terminology I needed for my meta-discourse overlaps about 50 percent with that of the book, and most of the nonoverlap is closely related in meaning and theoretical compatibility. I was glad‚ about that because it indicates that discourse analysis may yet be adopted as an additional methodology in psycholinguistics and in social psychology.


The implications. In conclusion, I wish to point out some of the implications of adopting discourse analysis as an additional methodology for psycholin–guistics. A bird‚s eye view of the "argument outlineš presented by this book may be schematized as follows:



-social interactions

-determines communicative function








Task for














This shows that discourse analysis as a proposed methodology for investi–gating psycholinguistic phenomena consists of mapping operations. The predictions on researchable issues will involve linguistic form as a dependent variable, and will employ social setting factors as the independent manipulation. The findings reported in this book on discourse analysis correspond to previous treatments of the topic (e.g., by Clark & Clark, Psychology and Language, Harcourt Brace. 1977, Chapter 6). What this book provides in addition, I believe, is the information that lies in the nitty-gritty of actual research-oriented attempts to map the interface between linguistic choice behavior and social psychological theory.


The value of the book is enhanced in this respect in that the contributors arc doing applied research on social theory, that is, language teaching. What‚s most notable about this orientation is the extent to which it is relevant not only to psycholinguistic theory, and not only to applied psycho–linguistics, but to social psychological theory as well. The latter, in my estimation, sorely needs an alternative to laboratory experimentation with „deception designs,š and so it‚s good to have discourse analysis as an additional method of investigation. As developed thus far in the language teaching specialty, discourse analysis turns out to be a new powerful tool for investigating social theory in its everyday natural „heldš context. The editor, D. Larsen-Freeman, is to be congratulated for presenting a new and success–ful integration in a familiar context.


The contributors ought also to be congratulated for advancing applied social theory and psycholinguistics by establishing through evidence the following facts:



I.                   The existence of speech roles, which is to say that speakers manage to stick to constricted choices in their     

            utterances, choices which are shown to depend on standard „models" (ideal behaviors).


2.        The existence of two levels of choice behavior in speech: utterance form and utterance content. Variation in 

           utterance form is shown to depend on the behavioral task of managing the rituals of social talk, while      

           variation in utterance content is dependent on the management of affect or feeling.


3.             The following social psychological factors (independent variable) are shown to affect the choice of

            utterance form (dependent variable): relationship distance; valence of affect; nature of attitude; interpersonal

           availability; speaker presuppositions or cognitive inferences; speaker intentions; and behavioral role.


4.        The psycholinguistic ability involved in using linguistic choices to signal social psychological information is shown to be teachable in an instructional context and is measurable.


5.        Talkers are shown to use management strategies in the way they handle „topicalization workš such as maintaining the continuity of topic, restating, or switching.



Leon A. James

University of Hawaii at Manoa