Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 8 August 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Copyright © 2009
M. S. Thirumalai


A Discourse Analysis of R. K. Narayan's
The Man-eater of Malgudi

Susan Nirmala.S, M.A., M.Phil.

1. A Brief Introduction to Discourse Analysis

'Text linguistics' and 'discourse analysis' extend the linguistic analysis of sentence to groups of sentences related in some cohesive manner and thus form a text. Conventional linguistic analysis focuses on the structure of sentence, whereas discourse analysis goes beyond this scope. Indian grammarians, such as Tolkappiyar in Tamil, actually had discourse analysis as the basis and goal of their linguistic description.

The word 'text' in text linguistics does not take up the image of whole text. The word 'text' is here used to designate any whole product of human linguistic capacity, for example, an utterance, and include in it words and tone groups at one end and large bodies of textual matter such as novels, etc. at the other end. And the overall designation given to any linguistic exploration of the text is text linguistics. Most often the text is composed of phrases and clauses, and the concepts it represents and activates are cohesive and coherent.

Discourse patterns reveal themselves in many interesting ways when it comes to the use of language. It is the social meaning of language that is emphasized by sociolinguistics. In fact, something important is missed out in the study of language, if it does not describe how language is used to talk to friends, scold children, conduct business, and grumble and so on. As far as the native speaker of a language is concerned, the syntax and semantics of the language is nothing other than a set of procedures for performing things with their language, for giving instructions to others on what to do, and so on. The element of language need not have a stable, uniform or exclusive identity.

A single element may have different functions. For example, the word 'last' can be used as a verb, noun, adverb or adjective. In the similar way, a single function may also be assigned to different elements. For example 'The child plays well'. Here the function of 'well' depends on the language user. It may mean that the child is good in everything and so good in playing too, or it may mean that the child is good in playing alone. So the language user may construe 'well' as an attribute of 'play' or as an attribute of 'child'.

2. Linguistic Relations

The science of linguistics concerns itself with describing and explaining the units of linguistic form or content. Depending upon the organization of the user's knowledge of his or her own language, one can perceive two dimensions of the language.

A. Intertextual

Those relations recognized between the piece of text at hand and other segments that are partly like it and partly unlike it are intertextual. In other words, this means knowledge of phonemic contrast, i.e., Knowing precisely how and where 'lice' and 'rice' differ at the phonological level; and also knowledge of minimal semantic contrasts in lexical fields. In other words, this means knowing, for example, that 'boy' is simultaneously 'not girl' and 'not man'.

B. Intratextual

Those relations recognized between given pieces of a single text are intratextual. It means a recognition of the relations between a given unit in a text and its co-constituents that is the other units found in the same text. Two dependencies of intratextual relations are anaphoric and cataphoric.

2.1 Anaphoric

Anaphoric here means a reference which leads from a presented unit to something which has been said (or assumed) earlier in the text. That is, recognizing what something is through an awareness of something that has been presented earlier in the text; in other words, seeking a connection between the presented unit and that which has already been presented earlier.

Take for instance, what Nataraj says: "I was suddenly inspired by the lesson taught by my adjournment lawyer, not to mix up accounts." (88)

From the above sentence, we can understand that Nataraj was already advised by the adjournment lawyer: "Oh, no absolutely different situations. Don't mix up accounts, whatever else you may do. It always leads to trouble". (65)

2.2 Cataphoric

Those references leading from the presented unit to entities appearing later in the text is cataphoric. That is recognizing what something is and by virtue of that sensing its connectedness to something found later in the text: "Give it here" he said, snatching away the green folder too. "I will double it for you. You mind the other things." (115)

Later Nataraj says:

Not all my precautions to leave things alone could keep me from giving a jump when I saw the green-folder peeping from within the folds of his cloths (168)

2.3 Cohesion

Syntax is the way words are put together into sentences. But grammar has more to do with writing than just this. Syntax can, in a way, also contribute to the way sentences themselves are put together into larger arrangements. It is the extent to which such separate sentences manage to hold together that is measured on the scale of cohesion.

Two phrases or two clauses are joined together with the help of conjunctions. In the same way two sentences can be joined together with a simple conjunction to attain cohesion in the sentences. The following excerpt relies on this use of conjunction for its cohesion. (The reference made here, is to the arrangements made for the temple festival in the novel The Man-eater of Malgudi.)

Four professional cooks were engaged, and several thousand little receptacles made of banana bark would be filled with sweetened rice and distributed. And then there were the Kitson lights and petrol lamps for the illumination of the temple and the procession, in addition to torches soaked in oil. (126)

Another example is given below:

(The reference made here, is to Nataraj's search for the animal doctor.)

It was so restful that I could have set my bicycle against the trunk of a tree and gone to sleep on the mud under the shade of the tree. But duty impelled me on…….. (92)

Cohesion relates also to the content expressed. Often we speak with cohesion, but at times our content may not be wholly related within an utterance. Extreme cases of lack of cohesion may be found in the speech of schizophrenic individuals.

2.4 Redundant Exclamations

We may find some sentences which may begin with words like 'Oh', 'Ah', 'Yeah,' etc. Such exclamations used at the beginning of sentences are called as 'redundant exclamations'.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

A Study of Structural Duplication in Tamil and Telugu - A Doctoral Dissertation | Computational Linguistics as a Curriculum for Engineering Students in India | A Discourse Analysis of R. K. Narayan's The Man-eater of Malgudi | Sense of Place and Sense of Dislocation in Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace | Teaching English Language Skills for Law - A Malaysian Case Study | Bi/Multilingualism and Issues in Management of Communication Disorders With Emphasis on Indian Perspectives | Role of English as a Tool for Communication in Tamil Society | The Frequency of the Passive in Indian English | Light Verbs in Gojri | The Core Functions of the English Modals - Speech Act Approach | Phonological Mean Length of Utterance (Pmlu) in Kannada-Speaking Children | Tolkaappiyam - Kaviraajamaarga - A Brief Note of Comparison | A Review of A Quick Guide to Postgraduate Supervision | Procedure to Develop Competency Based Self-Learning Materials | HOME PAGE of August 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Susan Nirmala.S, M.A., M. Phil.
Department of English
Karunya University
Coimbatore - 641 114
Tamilnadu, India

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