Critical Discourse Analysis

I’m dismayed to find that I have not blogged for over two months! There’s been plenty going in my work with the school using BtL and also in my studies with my friends, but I have forgotten to share it with the world.

My friends and I have chosen a new book to work through and it has proved a winner. It is The Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis by Meriel and Tom Bloor.  I was recommended to it by an MA student in Applied Linguistics and it is excellent. Briefly, it makes the reader aware of how all the attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and others  that we take for granted are not natural but socially constructed largely, though not entirely, by language.Interestingly, I have by chance been reading a quite different book that gives an excellent example of what this means. The book is Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane. He describes how it is only in the last two hundred years that people in Western Europe have taken on board the idea that mountains are sublime places where ramblers and climbers can experience the spiritual side of life. Before that mountains were nasty dangerous areas to be avoided. Writers such as Wordsworth and Coleridge and Ruskin were responsible for popularizing the mountains – the Lake District and the Alps – developed the tourist industries that threaten to wear them away to accommodate the dreamers looking for enlightenment.

We were born into a culture that takes the splendour of the natural world for granted, so this worship of the mountains seems natural to us. We have to step back and analyse critically the discourse or language which has given us this view of the world and realize that it is not in the least natural but culturally determined.


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