Paper 1 – Discourse Community Analysis English 1301: Rhetoric and Composition I The Rhetorical Situation One of the most difficult challenges you’ll face in college is learning to join various academic discourse communities. A “discourse community” is a group of people who share knowledge of a particular topic, similar backgrounds and experiences, values, and common ways of communicating. Examples of academic discourse communities at UTA include those comprising mathematicians, engineers, biologists, sociologists, historians, etc. Discourse communities seem particularly mysterious and intimidating when you are an “outsider,” but the good news is that we all have experience joining discourse communities. You successfully joined a discourse community any time you learned to participate and feel comfortable in a new school, a new church, a new circle of friends, or a new interest group (e.g., people interested in a certain sport or sports team, a band or type of music, a television show, gaming, cooking, yoga, dance, etc.) The purpose of this paper—and a primary purpose of ENGL 1301—is to demonstrate for you that the process of joining an academic discourse community is not so different from the process by which you’ve joined other discourse communities. Write a paper to me and your classmates about a time when you successfully joined a discourse community. Show us how you learned to make ethos appeals (i.e., establish and draw on your credibility), logos appeals (i.e., draw on factual knowledge and ways of reasoning), and pathos appeals (i.e., draw on the values and emotions of other members) that were specific to the community. Invention (i.e., discovering what you’re going to say in this paper) 1. Your audience for this paper (your classmates and I) will want to know the main point of your paper right off the bat, so, after deciding what discourse community you want to write about, come up with a claim ( FYW , p. 4) that you were successful in joining that community. 2. It’s not enough just to make a claim—your audience will expect you to prove it. Thus, you need to explain why your claim is valid by supporting it with reasons ( FYW , p. 4). Your reasons should state that you mastered ethos, logos, and pathos appeals that were specific to this particular community. 3. Even after you’ve made a claim and supported it with reasons, your audience still won’t be satisfied. Readers will expect you to provide evidence ( FYW , p. 4) that you really did master ethos, logos, and pathos appeals specific to your discourse community. Where will you find evidence for this paper? You won’t find it in the library or on the internet because it must come from you! Reflect deeply on your own experiences. Come up with specific
Communication is the basic element in any society. Humans are social beings, meaning that we need to communicate in order to survive. It’s something we learn since we are little, we learn to yell when we need something, cry when something hurts, and smile when we are satisfied. As we get older, we learn words; then we start to form sentences that express what we feel or need. Finally, we learn to communicate in different aspects of our lives. We also learn different forms of communication, letters, spoken, visual, and more. When we reach a certain age, we become conscious of certain rules in the communication we use; we learn that you don’t speak to your teacher the way you would speak to friends. We unconsciously start learning how to adapt in the different discourse communities we belong to. Each discourse community has its own rules; they have their language, their topics of interest, and different characteristics that make them unique. I define discourse community, as the different groups of people you socialize with, either voluntarily or obligatory. In this essay I would describe the four major and most important discourse communities I belong to: my family, friends, the academic community, and my ballet group.
Family is an important discourse community in my social and personal life. In order to join this community, you need to be born in it, adopted, or be considered a close family friend. In my family we speak Spanish as a main language, although body and facial language are very important, as well. The facial language is used within my close family; we use this to know whether one of us wants the other to stop talking, if one is angry, or if we did something right or wrong. We use semi-formal language, and the conversations are relatively open. By semi-formal language I mean, we don’t have to be very careful about the words we choose or the way we say them, although you always need to show respect to elderly even if you need something desperately. In the written aspect, it is usually letters, lists of things to do or buy, or notes that have important or non-relevant information. Within my immediate family, we tend to text each other, or use Facebook to communicate, in this media, the language can go from semi-formal to not-formal at all. This community has rules like stay away from talking about family secrets, there is no cursing in front of adults, although they can curse in front of you, always be respectful to the adults; and you need to obey and keep from answering back to “authority”. The generally discussed topics are life in general, family concerns, football, soccer, fashion, the news, jokes, school, friends, food, religion, politics, and about our recent life experiences. I like this community, because it is one in which I feel comfortable, I like the friendly environment, and I know I can communicate and be myself without being judged.
Another community that is also important to me is my group of friends. To be able to join this community, you need to be one of my friends/close friends. Although, in this community there are certain characteristics that define my group of friends like we care about school, we share same interest, we care for each other, we are not rebels or party people, we don’t drink or smoke, and we are honest with each other. This community’s language is mostly Spanish, although there may be times when we use Spanglish. I would say we use semi-formal language, because we don’t curse and we are respectful to each other, although we do use a lot of sarcasm. The media used here is Facebook and texting for normal communication, ignoring grammar and spelling. E-mail, and the occasional letter or cards, are to express the way we feel about each other. The rules that apply in this community we always care for each other, we don’t usually curse, nor do really crazy things, confidentiality, and respect of each other, and our families. In this discourse community we can seriously talk about anything, problems, guys, fashion, nails, school, sports, and life in general.
The academic discourse community is a real big one, and it is important in the professional and academic ambit, although it hasn't become that personal yet. In this community I use English as my major language, but sometimes I do talk in Spanish with some classmates. The language is semi-formal to formal. In essays, homework, expositions and social interaction with teachers or directors, I use formal, but with classmates, and an occasional homework, the use of semi-formal language is more appropriate. To join this community you need to be accepted into UTEP or work at the university. The rules in this community are very important, and there are many of them from which I would list the most important ones. Students need to attend classes, they need get passing grades in your courses, they have to respect others, turn in assignments. For my case, because I am Mexican, I need a certain number of classes, and be in migration status. The media used in this community is very diverse; there is blackboard, essay papers, e-mails, letters, notebooks, books, and different Internet pages like Cafesribe, or Webbasign. In each media, the way we communicate is different; it is different communicating through Blackboard, than when we communicate while using the textbook. This community has a variety of topics; it all depends on the classes and people’s interests. Although there is one topic all of my classes and relations talk about, success in your professional and personal life.
The final discourse community I will discuss is the ballet group I am involved in. To join this community, dancers need to be girls, attend Coupe Academy, and be in the advanced level of ballet. This language is very different from all the others, we use terminology that takes experience to learn, these terms include names of certain steps, clothing, parts of the body and of music, and about theater performance. We speak to each other in Spanish and semi-formal language, always showing respect to our classmates and especially to the instructor. Another language is music, we communicate through the different types of music. We dance differently depending on the speed, rhythm, and mood of the song. When we dance we communicate using the music as our voice. Another very important language is body language, we communicate by the body expressions and movements, and in performances we use our body to communicate the public a story. Written media is not very common, but we do have flyers for future events in the academy or important news. Also, when learning a new choreography we might write it down using dance and stage terminology, so we would be able to remember. In dance we usually talk about dancers, impressive steps we have seen, and we talk about life, but not in a real personal level. A few rules ballerinas need to follow when involved in this community is punctuality, not chewing gum in class, practicing, using the correct uniform, no cursing, and being disciplined. I like this community because I learn to express myself in a different way, without speaking or writing, it is just amazing.
I have never actually thought about discourse communities until now. From this exercise I realized rules my communities had, that I didn't know about. The way we analyze and describe our communities give us an opportunity to reflect on the way we communicate in the different aspects of our lives. In my opinion this helps us become more efficient in the communication process in our different discourse communities. Because now we consciously know the rules, the topics, the characteristics, and we can use those tools to express ourselves in an easier, more efficient manner. Discourse communities are an essential part of life, and learning to communicate in those communities is just as vital.