Discourse Studies – Ways and Crossroads

Insights into Cultural, Diachronic and Genre Issues in the Discipline

by Karolina Bros (Volume editor) Grzegorz Kowalski (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 412 Pages


The volume brings together papers emerging from the GlobE conference (University of Warsaw). The authors explore major topics in Discourse Studies, offering insights into the field’s theoretical foundations and discussing the results of its empirical applications. The book integrates different lines of research in Discourse Studies as undertaken at academic centres Europe-wide and beyond. In this diversity, the editors identify certain dominant lines of study, including (new) media discourse, political discourse in the age of social/digital media, or professional discourse in globalized workplace contexts. At the same time, the volume shows that Discourse Studies not only investigate emerging language phenomena, but also critically reassess research issues formerly addressed.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Prof. dr hab. Anna Duszak (1950–2015)
  • In memoriam prof. dr hab. Anna Duszak
  • Part 1. Discourse Studies: Theoretical considerations
  • Migratory metaphors – resident terms (Danuta Ulicka)
  • Discourse Studies and Media Studies: Crossing disciplinary boundaries? (Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska)
  • The pursuit of efficiency in the era of the text ‘born digital’ (Radostina Iglikova)
  • Language use in cultural contexts: Towards an integrative view of academic writer identity (Iga Maria Lehman)
  • Part 2. (New) Media Discourse
  • Semantic and pragmatic structure of problem feature articles in American and Belarusian media discourse (Tatiana Karpilovitch)
  • Constructing knowledge and professional identity in social media academic discourse: The study of epistemic predicates in weblogs (Małgorzata Sokół)
  • Problem-Solution text pattern and references to target groups in crowdfunding projects’ presentations (Grzegorz Kowalski)
  • Nuclear power discourse in The New York Times, The Independent, and Dnevnik (Desislava Cheshmedzhieva-Stoycheva)
  • A diachronic corpus-assisted study of climate change discourse in annual reports by British Petroleum (Oleksandr Kapranov)
  • Part 3. Discourse in professional domains
  • Discourses in organizations and workplaces in the globalized economy (Britt-Louise Gunnarsson)
  • Texts at work: The construction of an ideal workplace in ‘platforms of values’ (Catharina Nyström Höög)
  • Healthcare communication in transition: A cross-cultural study of migrant patients and doctors (Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak / Magdalena Zabielska)
  • Cultural and linguistic heterogeneity in courtroom discourse: Diverse methods of witness examination in criminal trials (Grażyna Anna Bednarek)
  • Part 4. Discourses of power and politics
  • Knowledge, power and order as constituents of public discourse (Małgorzata Rzeszutko-Iwan)
  • Shockvertising, scandalization and viral communication in discursive struggle: Nergal in The Voice of Poland (Adam Warzecha)
  • Legitimation strategies in Russian political discourse on the annexation of Crimea (Julita Śmigielska)
  • Fragmentation of the discourse community through the lens of metaphor analysis: A case study of RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS ARE BROTHERS (Ludmilla A’Beckett)
  • Approaches to Critical Discourse Analysis in interaction: Analyzing the political transformation in Kosovo with CDA methods and tools (Sahadete Limani-Beqa)
  • Series index

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The papers in this volume are selected contributions submitted by speakers at the international linguistic conference GlobE 2015, organized on 14th–16th May 2015, at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. In accordance with the title of the conference, East–West European Forum on Discourse, the presentations then delivered and the follow-up papers published in this collection represent major lines of research in the broadly understood Discourse Studies as undertaken at different academic centres Europe-wide and beyond. Despite the geopolitical dichotomy expressed verbatim in the title (which was intended to be thought-provoking rather than provocative), the conference has proved that there can be distinguished certain approaches, methods and topics of Discourse Analysis which attract scholars’ attention regardless of their specific academic, cultural etc. affiliations. On the other hand, diversity of the research topics addressed truly reflects the heterogeneity of Discourse Studies, which in turn has fully justified the sense of the ‘forum’ format, as the conference was meant to be.

Considering that the leitmotif of the 2015 edition of GlobE was “Past, present and future of discourse studies”, the speakers and contributors hereto were welcome to refer back to more distant, though by no means invalidated, theories, concepts and approaches in the field, and juxtapose them with the more recent and/or mainstream analytical models. On the other hand, we were looking forward to considerations on the possible directions which Discourse Studies may follow in the years to come. We are glad that such reflections also resurface in the papers in the volume, providing many issues for further reflection.

Finally, the title of this volume itself, Discourse Studies: ways and crossroads, in its metaphoric binomial, intentionally alludes to the second collection of GlobE proceedings, Bridges and barriers in metalinguistic discourse1 (Duszak and Okulska, 2006). The two publications do indeed share many similarities, the most evident being the contention that the diversity of research perspectives within Discourse Studies is in the end its asset, opening space for interdisciplinary work, rather than an obstacle to reaching a consensus among manifold schools and viewpoints. The latter would otherwise be imminent unless co-operation is established and maintained among scholars from many disciplines. Endorsing this principle, GlobE conference and its proceedings have since their beginnings featured contributions ← 9 | 10 → by linguists, sociologists, social psychologists, philologists, media analysts, and many others.

The present volume is divided into four parts. The first, Discourse Studies: Theoretical considerations, includes papers concerning theoretical aspects of Discourse Analysis, also approached from the perspectives of philological and literary studies, or (new) media research. The latter, in particular, identifies several challenges posed by recent technological developments to more traditional models in Discourse Analysis, not always capable of grasping e.g. multi-semiotic intricacies of multimodal discourses. Consequently, it is postulated that closer attention should be paid to models originating in Multimodal Discourse Analysis. Also, as is argued by the authors, with new platforms of communication entailing new ways of expression, research should be centred on the resulting hybrid multimodal genres, new modes of human interaction, communication strategies etc., discussed here in both theoretical and practical terms.

The author of the first paper, Danuta Ulicka, examines the problems of transfer of scientific terms and concepts originally coined in Russian by such scholars as M. Bakhtin or V. Shklovsky into other languages and scientific cultures. Against a detailed picture of socio-historical and political context of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, Danuta Ulicka presents a not less complex story behind the origins of such terms as Shklovsky’s defamiliarization or Bakhtin’s vnenakhodimost or heteroglossia. On this basis she demonstrates that the translatological tendency to unify the often complex scientific terminology results in the monologization and homogenization of its polysemy as found in the discourses of Bakhtin or Shklovsky – to the evident detriment of the originality of their scholarly thought. Ulicka argues that, although possibly aimed at mediating meanings between source and target cultures, such practices eventually have a negative effect on intercultural dialogue.

In the second paper in this section, Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska looks at the ontological problem of reciprocal definition of Discourse Studies and Media Studies, in particular in interdisciplinary research. In this respect, however, she argues that the assumption of an interdisciplinary nature in the relevant works is often a rhetorical stratagem rather than an actual methodological approach developed by their authors. Molek-Kozakowska notes that there exist important discrepancies between the two discussed disciplines, which inhibit genuine interdisciplinarity. Still, in the light of the complementary nature of the methodological tools offered by media analysts and discourse studies specialists, more attention should be paid in future to resolving the existing issues and seeking new ways of interaction between these disciplines. ← 10 | 11 →

Problems with the application of more traditional models of text linguistics to analyzing digital discourse are discussed by Radostina Iglikova. Following a detailed analysis of selected discourse definitional criteria originating in text linguistics, discourse analysis and Computer-Mediated Communication discourse analysis, the author focuses on the efficiency principle as applicable to both printed text and text ‘born digital’. She argues that, although technologically advanced and multimodal, the majority of the discourse produced online is still text-based, and hence shares many features with traditional texts – despite the former’s being ‘born digital’ rather than transposed from analogue resources. As a result, researchers should be able to remodel the traditional methods of text analysis drawing on the abundant literature and well-established methodologies, rather than invent brand new analytical models.

In the final paper in this section Iga Maria Lehman focuses on the concept of identity as a dichotomous and dynamic notion, encompassing individual and collective aspects of the social self, both being in constant interplay. In her study she takes the linguistic anthropology perspective on the issue of identity formation of academic writers. The process is shown to be dependent upon participation in discourse activities characteristic to the academic discourse community of which a given scholar is a member, for instance writing scientific texts. The latter in turn provide data which enable the analyst to identify specific identity-formation factors involved in their creation.

The second part of the volume, (New) Media Discourse, includes case-studies whose authors take a closer look at both printed and digital mass-media. The topics discussed are approached from a variety of Discourse Analysis frameworks, including comparative text analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis and corpus-based Discourse Analysis.

The section opens with a study by Tatiana Karpilovitch, who presents a comparative analysis of problem feature articles published in American and Belarusian press. More specifically, she looks at the key semantic and pragmatic features of the genre. In the former case, she discusses the superstructure of the problem feature article, and compares the presence and arrangement of the specific moves in the relevant texts published in the two countries. In the latter case, the author analyzes pragmatic markers whereby specific moves in the relevant texts are expressed. Karpilovitch demonstrates that the two media cultures generally structure problem feature articles in a similar way, the main discrepancies resulting from systemic differences between the two language systems and different expressive styles rather than differences in the genre’s architecture or information structure. ← 11 | 12 →

By contrast, Małgorzata Sokół analyzes a digital genre: she investigates Polish academic weblogs in terms of the use of different verbal constructions expressing epistemic modality. Given the increasing popularity of the new media in public discourse, and their widespread use in knowledge-disseminating and opinion-making, members of the academia have also adapted the genres of digital communication to debate, persuade and argue on various academic (and not only academic) issues. As the author shows, the Polish language offers a vast diversity of epistemic modality verbs, whereby academic bloggers can express their points with a different load of argumentative power. An in-depth analysis of specific cases enables the author to identify various rhetorical and pragmatic objectives which the bloggers may want to achieve in communicating their arguments and negotiating their truth-value with the audience.

The paper by Grzegorz Kowalski also discusses a digital genre, namely project presentations at Internet crowdfunding platforms. The author investigates how these texts use the Problem-Solution structure to justify the rationale behind developing a particular project, and how they discursively construct the project’s intended target group. A comparative analysis is employed to distinguish possible differences in the application of the related discourse strategies in local- and global-impact crowdfunding platforms.

The section concludes with two articles featuring Critical Discourse Analysis methodology. In her study on newspaper discourse Desislava Cheshmedzhieva-Stoycheva compares and contrasts argumentation strategies used by advocates and opponents of nuclear power. The study is based on a corpus of newspaper articles published in The New York Times, The Independent and Dnevnik, which therefore enables the author to juxtapose specific discourse strategies used by the relevant actors in American, British and Bulgarian societies, respectively. Despite certain nuances in the discourses of the opposite fractions concerned, many of which being related to the different sociopolitical realities, it is shown that in general pro- and anti-nuclear media texts apply similar discourse strategies. Specifically, they share similar topoi, imagery, metaphors, and refer to similar emotions and events, to name but a few aspects.

Ecological issues are likewise addressed by Oleksandr Kapranov. The author discusses climate change discourse from a diachronic perspective, based on a corpus of annual reports by British Petroleum. With the application of corpus-research tools and statistical analysis, involving words and expressions referring to global warming and other climate issues, he demonstrates that the general message on climate change communicated by the company is not subject to significant diachronic variation. Rather, it is expressed as a stable part of the company’s general policy on ecological issues. ← 12 | 13 →

The papers in the third part of the volume, Discourse in professional domains, discuss discourses as employed in diverse professional contexts. Particular attention is given to institutional and business domains operating in international and cross-cultural contexts, in both private and public sectors.

The section opens with Britt-Louise Gunnarsson’s multidimensional study of the interaction between global business and corporate communication, and how the changes on the labor market influence and are influenced by corporate discourse. The author takes three directions in her research – multilingual company culture, language policy and multicultural workplace – which all confirm the hypothesis that worker mobility, global orientation and flexibility are key values for the operation of multinational companies. Not surprisingly, computer-mediated communication has become the primary platform for corporate interaction and English the primary language used in such environments.

A similar topic is addressed by Catharina Nyström Höög, who takes a relatively new genre, platform of values, under scrutiny in her analysis of Swedish public-sector communication practices. The study, involving CDA methodology and tools of multi-modal discourse analysis, shows that the texts representing this genre commonly employ the ‘soft steering’ approach, with both verbal and visual means used to describe positive qualities of the institution, establish its authority, and negotiate responsibility. Crucially, the author identifies three components inherent to the platform of values: nominal constructions referring to core values and positive qualities, mood metaphors and visual resources adjusted to the intended goal of the text.

A cross-cultural perspective is also found in the paper by Agnieszka Kiełkiewicz-Janowiak and Magdalena Zabielska, who analyze doctor-patient communication practices between Polish migrants and British healthcare providers. The empirical material, elicited through narrative interviews and ethnographic methods, points to certain differences between English and Polish healthcare practices. In particular, the authors argue that greater awareness of the cultural specificity of healthcare and the way in which it is provided is crucial for doctor-patient interactions in multi-cultural environments. Also, the authors recommend that professional medical training for healthcare staff working in migrant environments should be informed by linguistic research so that they can better address their patients’ needs.

This section ends with Grażyna Anna Bednarek’s comparative analysis of Polish and US courtroom discourses, focusing on their respective inquisitorial and adversarial procedures of witness examination. The author points to linguistic and cultural heterogeneity of courtroom discourse, and argues that the two types of witness ← 13 | 14 → examination procedures should be treated as different linguistic genres shaped by specific cultural, historical and social contexts in which both legal systems operate.

The final section of the volume, Discourses of power and politics, brings together studies concerning power relations and political issues in contemporary societies. The dominant approach followed by the authors is Critical Discourse Analysis, providing tools suitable to analyze the multidimensional interplay between discourse and power. Here one of the recurrent themes is the complex networking between political (and more generally public) discourse and (mass) media, which is addressed more generally in attempts to develop a relevant theoretical model, and more practically in case studies focusing on particular instances of the said phenomenon.

In the first paper in this section, Małgorzata Rzeszutko-Iwan takes judicial and media discourses as a point of departure for an analysis of the relationship between knowledge, power and order, which concepts she draws from Foucault’s theory of discourse. Following this perspective, she argues that order is manifested through knowledge and power, which, in turn, can be expressed both verbally and non-verbally (through symbolic forms) and shape public discourse. Excerpts from courtroom interaction and media interviews show how certain discourse devices can be used as institutional tools to warrant order. Thus, the categories of knowledge, power and order are shown to be interdependent and complementary elements of public discourse.

A multi-aspect analysis has been performed by Adam Warzecha, who discusses the phenomenon of shockvertising in public discourse on the example of controversies related to the Polish black-metal performer Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski. The author confronts diverse opinions formulated by different social actors, including Church authorities, politicians of various parties, journalists, social organizations etc. He discusses the subsequent stages of the process, from shockvertising of local impact, then gathering its impetus to become a nationwide issue, and eventually becoming the subject of political and religious scandalization. The author points to the power of political discourse and its hegemonizing nature when confronted with other public domains, e.g. religion or mass culture.

Expressing institutional power in political discourse is also the topic addressed by Julita Śmigielska, who discusses legitimation strategies used in Vladimir Putin’s speech on the annexation of Crimea. Her CDA analysis shows that the main conceptualization frame of the discourse in question is constructed on the basis of thesis–antithesis pattern, with subsequent statements referring to positive values of the in-group vs. negative ones of the out-group. Argumentation which is used to validate this division is chiefly based on historical and legal references. ← 14 | 15 →

The same political context is discussed by Ludmilla A’Beckett, who analyzes instances of the metaphor RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS ARE BROTHERS in Russian and Ukrainian public discourse. The author argues that despite the common use of the metaphor in both contexts, there is neither agreement as to its validity nor uniformity as to the ways in which it is expressed or otherwise referred to in discourse. This discrepancy is claimed to be a corollary of different political attitudes and ideologies advocated by the authors of the texts analyzed.

The final paper in the volume, written by Sahadete Limani-Beqa, proposes a new framework for critical analysis of political transformation discourse. Application of the model is illustrated with mediatized political speeches concerning Kosovo. As the author argues, several analytical tools need to be combined in order to conduct a thorough linguistic and sociopolitical research into the discursive events in question.

We dedicate this volume to the memory of Professor Anna Duszak, founder of the GlobE conference and co-editor of all the previous conference volumes.

Karolina Broś and Grzegorz Kowalski
Warsaw, August 2017

1 Duszak, A., & Okulska, U. (Eds.) (2006). Bridges and barriers in metalinguistic discourse. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

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Prof. dr hab. Anna Duszak (1950–2015)

Professor Anna Duszak was… It is difficult to write about her in the past tense, remembering her exceptional energy, with which she undertook new research projects, and which she engaged in her daily scientific, teaching and managerial work at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. Each research topic she analyzed, each lecture she delivered, and each idea which would contribute to the development of the Institute, she executed from the beginning to the end, not accepting any stopgap, understatement or improvisation. At the same time her strong belief in any endeavour undertaken motivated her colleagues to jointly achieve the intended goal.

One can simply write “she was the director of the Institute”, but this sentence sounds like a cliché. Whoever had the opportunity to meet Professor Duszak knows that in this case the word ‘director’ is a misnomer. A name for an organizational rank, a label of professional classification, it imposes a frame which defines the institutional hierarchy of positions. Yet I am sure that those who knew Professor Duszak would skip this official title, and say simply “she was the Institute”, with no hyperbole whatsoever.

Affiliated with the University of Warsaw throughout her entire academic career, Professor Duszak was a linguist of worldwide reputation. Initially a member of the Department of Modern Languages, she later became a founder and leading scholar at the Faculty of Applied Linguistics. It is at the University of Warsaw that she was awarded the successive degrees: master’s (in applied linguistics, 1973), doctoral (in humanities, 1979), habilitacja (in humanities, 1987), and eventually, in recognition for her scientific achievements and academic work, full professorship (2004).

Respected by her colleagues and admired by students, she was the dean of the Faculty of Applied Linguistics (1993–1999) and director of the Institute of Applied Linguistics (2002–2008 and 2012–2015). Within the Institute she was the head of the Department of Language Communication (2001–2006), which was then renamed Department of Sociolinguistics and Pragmatics (2006–2011), and recently transformed into the Department of Discourse Studies, which Professor Duszak founded and headed since 2011. She organized and co-ordinated several team-projects within the Department, and founded two of its key international linguistic conferences: GlobE (since 2002) and Political Linguistics (with the Department of Pragmatics, Institute of English, University of Łódź, since 2007). In addition, Professor Duszak co-ordinated large-scale interdisciplinary and inter-university ← 17 | 18 → research projects, including Swoi – inni – obcy [Ours – others – strangers] or a Polish anthology on comparative Systemic-Functional Discourse Analysis. An advocate of an interdisciplinary approach to discourse studies also in university education, she was a co-founder of new MA studies “Language and Society”, run by the Institute of Applied Linguistics and Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw, since 2015.

She also organized many seminars, workshops and lectures delivered by eminent scholars, who always gladly accepted her invitation to Warsaw. Herself she was likewise invited to many universities, both in Poland and abroad (e.g. University College of London, 1972–1973; University of Kansas, 1977–1978; University of California in Berkeley, 1984–1985; University of Cologne and University of Hamburg, 1990–1992; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, 1996; University of Vienna, 1997), benefiting from scholarships granted by Fulbright, Humboldt and Batory foundations. She delivered guest lectures at renowned academic institutions and participated in a number of linguistic conferences, where she was welcomed as a keynote speaker. She much esteemed international contacts among scholars, not only within her field, and befriended many, with whom she cooperated and exchanged results of academic work. Being up-to-date with global linguistic community was her priority, also in those difficult times when international co-operation and mobility – now so widespread and obvious – were much restricted in Poland.

Biographical notes

Karolina Bros (Volume editor) Grzegorz Kowalski (Volume editor)

Grzegorz Kowalski is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. His research interests are academic and scientific discourse, corpus linguistics, and critical discourse analysis. Karolina Broś is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, language change, intercultural communication and critical discourse analysis.


Title: Discourse Studies – Ways and Crossroads