Branick vs. Swales

Blog » Branick vs. Swales

Posted on 12 Mar 2013 20:11

John Swales, the author of "The Concept of Discourse Community", discusses what makes a community a discourse community. He defines a discourse community and then tells us the difference between a discourse community and a speech community. Swales style in this piece can be described as being descriptive at first and then showing an example. At first, he explains what a discourse community. He explains that in order for a community to be a discourse community it has to follow 6 points. The six points are : sharing a common goal, communication methods, ways to provide information, different genres or ways to communicate, a specific lexis or terms, consists of a threshold of members. After explaining these six points, he talks about a speech community. He explains how this is where a group of people share a common use of a language. He goes into a lot of detail explaining , on a general topic, a discourse community. He then brings up a fact that discourse communities don't have to be academic. To show this he joins the Hong Kong Study Circle. In this case, this community accepts people and you don't have to be raised in it. Plus the Hong Kong Study had to with stamps and not academics, which basically proved his point. As you can see, Swales focuses more on discourse communities in general than explaining a specific one. He discusses discourse communities on a general note, rather than showing more than one example and explaining them.

Unlike Swales, Sean Branick brings up a specific community he thinks is a discourse community and explains how it is one, rather than generally talking discourse communities. Branick talks about a football coaching staff and how it is a discourse community. However, at the same time, he discusses the role of a coach and how "reading" is important to a coach. Branick brings up what makes a good coach good and his roles; how they need to be able to motivate the players, set up plays, and "read" the player and game. Branick proves that this community is a discourse community. They follow a common goal; to win the game, motivate the players, and help the players out not only in the game but in life. There are genres, such as: the playbook, scouting report, or play-calling sheet. He says that literacy plays an important role in the coaching community. Not only do they have to read the playbooks or write them, they need to be able to read the players, which is called an interpersonal literacy. There is also a situational literacy, where the coach needs to be able to read a situation in a game and respond. This leads to another point of a discourse community, having a lexis. They have certain terms that only the team know. As you can tell, Branick focuses more on a specific community and explains how that is a discourse community, rather than focusing more on a general discourse community.

Although their approaches to explaining a discourse community were different, they did have some similarities. For example, they do agree on what makes a discourse community a discourse community. They agree on the six points and that it doesn't have to only apply to academics but in other fields as well.

Honestly, I would not use either of their approaches. I think that both of them focused on too much of what they were doing. A balance of explaining what a discourse community and giving a specific example should be made. In talking about discourse communities, we shouldn't focus more on a specific community or in general about a discourse community. Rather, we should balance out the two for maximum understanding.

Leave a comment

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License