Home » Book Reviews » Review: Discourse Analysis by Brown & Yule

Review: Discourse Analysis by Brown & Yule


Brown, Gillian, and George Yule. Discourse Analysis (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics). Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. 302 pp.

Brown and Yule survey the work done thus far on discourse analysis and the various components of what have been included in such work.  They deal both with written and with oral texts, sometimes more with oral in order to see language-in-use more effectively.  They appreciate the work done by Chomsky and other structural linguists to analyze grammar on the sentence level, but recognize the need for analysis of discourse as a whole.

This work surveys components of discourse analysis such as linguistic forms and functions, context and co-text, topic, staging, information structure, reference, and coherence.  The work therefore looks at elements of the author’s composition, the author’s situational context, and the reader’s conception of the discourse.  It is helpful for understanding the three components that some authors attribute to meaning: author, text, and audience.  Even if one prefers to see meaning only in the author, one must still reckon with what occurs within the text itself and within the mind of the audience if one wants to perform discourse analysis. 

The negative aspect of this work is that no method is laid out.  They emphasize the developmental nature of discourse analysis (as of 1983), and perhaps this is why they have no developed method.  Yet, this volume works as an excellent supplement to Beekman, Callow, and Kopesec’s work.  One can use the semantic analysis method found in their work, while supplementing the semantic analysis with the tools provided by Brown and Yule.

Reviewed by: Todd Scacewater

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1 Comment

  1. […] such as coherence and unity.  Such features are discussed more in detail in the work of Brown and Yule.  However, the authors throughout the work simply assert their theory rather than discussing other […]

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