Register, Discourse and Genre Analysis When Teaching English for Specific Purposes

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1. Introduction

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is an umbrella term to refer to teaching of language in academic and occupational contexts. Needs analysis and use of specific language in target contexts are the absolute characteristics of an ESP programme. Hence the notions of register, discourse and genre become central to ESP.

2. Register

Register refers to "a variety of language distinguished according to use" (Halliday, McIntosh, and Strevens, 1964:89). This concept disassociated itself from the premise that English of a specific subject is different from others in terms of its lexicogrammar. An ESP course design was primarily aimed at developing a syllabus that would prioritize only those language forms that students would use in their domain. ESP developed in two stages: the first targeted language at the sentence level, while the second focused on the level above the sentence - discourse or rhetorical analyses. Thus, the main focus of register analysis is on how sentences were combined in discourse to produce meaning.

Halliday, McIntosh, and Strevens, (1964:89) introduced three parameters field, mode, and tenor to describe register. Field is the domain of language activities such as literature, sociology, economics, etc; tenor explains the interpersonal role relationships between people such as doctor/patient, manager/supervisor, father/son, etc; mode is the medium of communication adopted such as speech, writing. Register thus involves a number of socio-cultural factors of communication in Hallidayian terms. Later, Halliday and Hasan in Cohesion in English (1976) used cohesion or intersentential linking also in terms of grammar and lexis or what they called lexicogrammar. Although Halliday, et al., never m...

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...on, and report can combined with recount, and recount can be blended with report and explanation.

Different genres and registers employ a range of cohesive devices and for varying communicative functions. For instance, the use of reference, substitution and ellipsis in legal texts is minimal and, synonyms and super-ordinates are generally scanty in scientific and technical texts. While Halliday and Hasan (1976) and other researchers primarily use literary texts, Cook (2001) and Huang (2001) deal with cohesive devices in advertisements, and Yu (2004) investigates cohesive devices in academic introductions from the perspective of genre. Nevertheless, the study of cohesive devices in non-literary texts is still a neglected area which needs further explorations.

5. References

Malmkjaer, K. (ed) (2002). The Linguistics Encyclopedia (2nd ed). New York: Routledge.

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