PART 1 – Option 1
Explain how the language you use is shaped by the ‘Discourse Communities’ you belong to, using examples from your own experience to illustrate your points.
There are many variations of dialect and register in the English language and this shapes the way we write and speak. Here, we will discuss and analyse how the discourse communities we belong to, relate to different practical and social functions, and how we adapt our language in order to fulfil these functions. We will also look at how the transmission of specific terminology can point to the identity of the speaker or writer. The term ‘discourse community’ is used here to describe groups of people who use a particular register of language as a result of their shared interest in a particular activity, and often using specialist terminology incomprehensible to the outsider.
The concept of ‘register’ is language determined by the way in which it is used and can often be just as important as the message you are conveying whether it is in verbal or written form, comparing examples of spoken and written discourse shows us that the structure of language can be influenced by the way it is used’ (Seargeant, 2010, p. 58). One of the key functions of a specialist register is to allow people to communicate with a high level of precision. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein describes words as ‘tools in a toolbox […] if we want to get something done, we need to use the correct tool’ (Wittgenstein, 1953, para.11). Here, Wittgenstein is implying that we need to use the right language for the right activity and ‘what counts as the right type of tool will depend on the task at hand and the circumstances in which it is to be used’ (Ibid).
‘Many people face new challenges when they first join a discourse community in having to adapt to the specialist register relating to that community and change their linguistic practices to the communities norms’ (Seargeant, 2010, p.63). The Open University is a...