Text and Discourse
The nature of text
When we think of a text, we typically think of a stretch of language complete in itself and of some considerable extent. However, there appears to be a problem when we have to define units of language which consist of a single sentence, but that fulfill the basic requirement of forming a meaningful whole in their own right. For example: “keep off the grass”. This text is complete in terms of communicative meaning. So, if the meaningful of the texts does not depend on their linguistic size, what else does it depend on? You recognize a piece of language as a text, because of its location in a particular context. And if you are familiar with the text in that context, you know what the message is intended to be. Now if you see the same sign dissociated from its ordinary context, you are no longer ablet to act on its original intention. From this example we can conclude that, for the expression of its meaning, a text is dependent on its use in a appropriate context. The nature of discourse
Meaning of a text does not come into being until it is actively employed in a context of use. This process of activation of a text by relating it to a context of use is what we call discourse. This contextualization of text is actually the reader’s reconstruction of the writer’s intended message, that is, his or her communicative act or discourse. In these terms, the text is the observable product of the writer’s or speaker’s discourse, which in turn must be seen as the process that has created it. However, just because he or she is engaged in a process of reconstruction, it is always possible that the reader infers a different discourse from the text than the one the writer has intended. Therefore, one might also say that the inference of discourse meaning is largely a matter of negotiation between writer and reader in contextualized social interaction. So a text can be realized by any piece of language as long as it is found to record a...
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