Discourse geography

Authored by: Yueguo Gu

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


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This chapter deals with the relation between discourse on the one hand, and space and time on the other. It is helpful from the outset to spell out how the terms discourse, space, and time will be used so as to avoid potential misinterpretations. “Discourse,” Blommaert (2005: 2) observes, “is language-in-action.” Specifically, it “comprises all forms of meaningful semiotic human activity seen in connection with social, cultural, and historical patterns and developments of use. …” (p. 3). Blommaert approaches such discourse by critically examining voice, i.e. “the way in which people manage to make themselves understood or fail to do so” (p. 4). Gu (2002a) looks at discourse (qua language-in-action) by adopting the perspective of human geography, in which discourse is viewed as a web of trajectories constructed by human actors’ movements over space and time, while carrying out their daily routine activities. In this perspective, discourse (qua language-in-action) is regarded as being equivalent to social activity, and occurrences of such discourse are prototypically here-and-now, spatially–temporally bounded events, situated in specific behavior settings (Barker's 1968 terminology) and related to the performance of specific social actors.

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