"(Critical) Discourse Analysis" on Wikipedia

Celso Alvarez Cáccamo lxalvarz at UDC.ES
Sun Mar 12 20:02:12 UTC 2006

(Sorry if I sent a message twice (I'm not sure), but since Teun's first 
message was crossposted between CRITICS and DISCOURS, I really don't know 
where I sent my reply. I thought it hadn't made it to CRITICS. Anyway.)

Gabriella Modan (in CRITICS-L) says:

>I'm pro-wikipedia, and disagree with Celso that the best way to correct 
>untruths is to discredit wikipedia. I think there's merit in joining the 
>system and taking some responsibility for spreading knowledge about our 
>field in a form that's easily accessed by people outside the rarified 
>world of discourse analysts -- isn't that the point of doing CDA work??

Gabriella, I am not anti-wikipedia ;-), and my message was sort of 
tongue-in-cheek. But, my very recent experience with Wikipedia is that I 
assigned my students some Internet research (?) on a phonological 
description of a language of their chosing, and instead of my students 
visiting Serious web places like Linguist, specialized academic 
departments, language or linguistic associations, etc., or even ;-) the 
Ethnologue, almost all of them ended up handing in terrible (and terribly 
translated) descriptions from Wikipedia, pure cut-and-pastecracy. And all 
this, DESPITE my emphatic warnings that Wikipedia was just one of the 
resources, but NOT the only one nor the first one to use for this assignment.

So, next time I'll tell my students specifically NOT to use Wikipedia 
unless they've already researched other, Serious places, and contrasted the 

That's the type of "discredit" of Wikipedia I'd like to practice. Because, 
of course, for students cut-and-pastecracy is easier than thinking.

And not only for students, mind me: A colleague of mine who is editing a 
book has told me that one of the contributors, a reputed scholar and 
Tenured Professor, has just emailed her his draft chapter with a paragraph 
copied verbatim (plagiarized) from.... WIKIPEDIA ITSELF! She (the book 
editor) knows this because he (the contributor) didn't even remove the 
Wikipedia hyperlinks and crosslinks ;-) so that when she clicked on the 
links, up comes... WIKIPEDIA!!!

So, in my humble opinion, there's a fine line between democratic (?), 
collaborative (?) knowledge and a total mess. If Serious Scholars can't 
agree on what discourse or discourse analyis or CDA are, how can Scholars 
expect that anyone with internetic skills who posts an entry know what they 
are? Who knows whether the makers of these Wikipedia entries are just lowly 
students who have to share extremely expensive hotel rooms in Important 
Conferences where they run around and among talkative Scholars for a few 
seconds of their time in order to ask them whether a crucial thought for 
their theses is wrong or right? Who knows how far students' thirst of 
revenge for these offenses may reach? Or, who knows if Wikipedia democratic 
entries are written by one's disciplinary adversary with an Internet false 
name who wants to teach the entire world that someone was MUCH more 
important in the field? Man, how can the academic world be SAFE now that 
vulgar bits are replacing sacred ink?? What if all this is a broad 
conspiracy against Science???

Because, if googlocracy finally dominates the planet, how can be sure that 
scientific findings are NOT what most people who vote on a subject want to 



Please click on the link below. Your click will be registered. What would 
you PREFER "discourse" to mean?:

1) A linguistic structure larger than a sentence.
2) A constellation of internally coherent ideological propositions, though 
we don't know how.
3) A bunch of words in the mind, society, and the like.
4) Speech, what people say.
5) Dis course, not dat one.
6) Your own definition (please enter it here ___________________)

And, what scholar's definition of "discourse" would you like to be 
ELIMINATED from our databases (please enter):

I would like __________'s definition of DISCOURSE in her/his work 
__________ to be eliminated.

Thank you for your votes! Please add this COMMERCIAL LINK to your own web 
page; each click on it will gain you ONE CYBERPOINT to publish in... 
(please mark in order of preference):

a) WikiAnalysis - A Comprehensive Self-Journal on Languation
b) Goo - Studies on Discourse, Cholesterol, and Swimming Techniques
c) eazymind - words'n stuff bulletin


It's dangerous. It's really dangerous. Soon we won't know who is who. Any 
poor computer geek from a weird country is gonna come steal our tenured 
office. And THEY, the Masses (or the Internet addicts with lots of free 
time), will be teaching US what discourse is!

That's why I gave up serious thinking. If I ever thought.

Cheers ;-)


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