Why is Discourse Analysis studied?

There are many reasons why we may want to study discourse analysis:
  • One of which would be that the language we use in everyday life is used by everybody. It might sometimes be incoherent or nonsensical, but nevertheless we can usually comprehend it; it is a prevalent phenomenon.
  • Another reason is that people never communicate things in either a natural or objective way. This, according to a discourse analyst, simply means that our language always seeks a particular response when we use it. Usually, it's a cognitive process (i.e. an unconscious decision), making it interesting to a linguist. For example, look at the way these two common utterances are expressed:
a) "Are you sure you want to go out?"
b) "How come you want to go out?"

As you can see, both a) and b) concern the same query. However, if you were to say utterance a), then the likely result you'd be seeking would be for the person you're addressing to not go out. In contrast, utterance b) would be less demanding; it is more of an actual query than a dissuasive device.
  • Also, by studying discourse analysis, you'd be promoting yourself as a "critical consumer of information". This means that you'd begin to view the way newspapers encouraged you to look at something one way but not another. A common example is the "freedom fighter/terrorist" scenario (see video on the Discourse Analysis page).