"(Critical) Discourse Analysis" on Wikipedia

Phil Chappell philchappell at MAC.COM
Sat Mar 11 13:02:28 UTC 2006

Dear Tuen,

I don't know too much about the workings of the supposed freely  
produced Wikipedia, but I have noticed one trend in the past few  
years when I have intermittently used it - postings on large topics  
such as CDA or DA or a major name in a field e.g. Vygotsky http:// 
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vygotsky have tended to be briefer and  
definitely the voice of fewer contributors. I spent some time several  
years back contributing to the entry on "zone of proximal  
development" and "scaffolding", two widely used constructs in  
education. None of my original contributions remain and a monoglossic  
tone of brevity pervades those pages.

I would be happy to contribute to your project for CDA on Wikipedia,  
however should we first check on the stability of contributions? It  
seems to me that a privileged group are somehow able to hold on to  
editorial rights.


Phil Chappell
AUA Language Centre
Bangkok, Thailand
University of Wollongong
New South Wales, Australia

On 11/03/2006, at 6:46 AM, Teun A. van Dijk wrote:

> Dear friends,
> I do not usually look up Wikipedia when I need to know something I  
> do not know, although the idea of a shared net-cyclopedia is great,  
> and I wished we had something like that for discourse studies (I  
> proposed the idea some years ago, but it did not work out because  
> of technical problems: on which server to put it, etc...).
> However, if you type in "Critical Discourse Analysis" or "Discourse  
> Analysis" in Google, as undoubtedly many students do, then you also  
> hit on the Wikipedia definitions - and on some surprises, such as a  
> mere two books being mentioned as references for DA, one of which  
> is... Austin's How to do things with words: Check it out for yourself:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_Analysis
> as well as some other confused, misguided, etc, statements like:
> Thus, most discourse analysts following Harris have conducted work  
> that falls under the heading of “pragmatics” in modern linguistics,  
> rather than “syntactics,” though many discourse analysts would  
> reject linguists’ tripartite division of the main characteristics  
> of language--the third characteristic being "semantics."
> (...)
> Critical discourse analysis, which combines discourse analysis with  
> critical theory (particularly that of the Frankfurt School, Michel  
> Foucault and Jacques Derrida, as well as literary, semiotic and  
> psychoanalytic influences from Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes, and  
> Jacques Lacan), to create a politically engaged form of linguistic  
> discourse analysis.
> Of course this is no drama, but always worrying about what students  
> learn, I find this at least a bad example of a Wikipedia entry. Or  
> maybe I simply have no idea who of all these French heroes were  
> actually CDA-ers avant la lettre... Jaques Lacan a CDA-er?
> The item on CDA has the following surprising statement:
> In terms of method, CDA can generally be described as hyper- 
> linguistic or supra-linguistic, in that practitioners who use CDA  
> consider the larger discourse context or the meaning that lies  
> beyond the grammatical structure.
> Obviously, this has little to do with CDA (or is a raving triviality).
> Just check it out:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Discourse_Analysis
> And while you are at it, also check the (basic) entry on Discourse:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse
> where you can read initial statements such as:
> Discourse is a term used in semantics as in discourse analysis, but  
> it also refers to a social conception of discourse, often linked  
> with the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and  
> Jürgen Habermas' The Theory of Communicative Action. Even though  
> each thinker had personal and incompatible conceptions of  
> discourse, they remain two important figures in this field;  
> Habermas trying to find the transcendent rules upon which speakers  
> could agree on a groundworks consensus, while Foucault was  
> developing a battle-type of discourse which opposed the classic  
> marxist definition of ideology as part of the superstructure).
> Now who in contemporary DA recognize themselves in this statement  
> as an introduction to contemporary discourse analysis? Habermas  
> (with all due respect for his work) as the leading scholar in the  
> definition of 'discourse'?
> I thought that Wikipedia editing was meant to correct obvious  
> errors, add new references, or add an obvious point that had been  
> forgotten, but not that people who have no idea (re)write items...
> I also discovered that I am (still) described in Wikipedia as a  
> text-linguist -- that is, by someone who has not read his (?)  
> discourse analysis literature for some 30 years...
> In sum, this is not doing Wikipedia or our students any good, so I  
> propose at least some of us jointly compose some items on (C)DA  
> that can be warranted as more or less representative of the field,  
> then to be submitted to (for instance) this list, with requests for  
> corrections and additions, and then we post it on Wikipedia... and  
> see what happens to those items...
> I of course know that encyclopedia items come in many guises, and  
> reflect the interests, etc. of the writer(s), and no entry can be  
> 'objective', but I think they should at least be more or less  
> correct, and more or less representative.
> Cheers
> Teun
> PS. Para l at s hispanohablantes escribí entradas sobre AD y ACD para  
> la versión de Wikipedia en español -- espero que sean más  
> representativas:
> http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Análisis_del_discurso
> http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Análisis_crítico_del_discurso
> ________________________________________
> Teun A. van Dijk
> Universitat Pompeu Fabra
> Dept. de Traducció i Filologia
> Rambla 30
> 08002 Barcelona
> E-mail: teun at discourse-in-society org
> Internet: www.discourse-in-society.org
> Para hispanohablantes también:
> E-mail: teun at discursos.org
> Internet: www.discursos.org

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