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Take a look at the German Page on this topic. If someone would translate it...

--- —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:09, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

12/11/03: This document only contained the linguistic dimension of discourse. I tried to put in something about the social aspect of the term. Please improve my humble opening! What the hell does discourse mean? There is no simple (or even complex) definition given

Agreed, this is convoluted and whoever wrote this forgot to mention what it means.


According to [1], in its ordinary, non-technical sense, discourse can be:

  1. verbal communication,
  2. a formal, verbal presentation or discussion of a subject.

In Linguistics, it can be an instance of connected language longer than a sentence.

The word is part of the lexis of each of a number of discourse communities, including sociology, linguistics, and philosophy. As such, it has applications and meanings specific to various fields. Thus, an exhaustive definition would be an appropriate topic for a substantial article. Presumably, this is Wikipedia's version of such an article. --Grosbach (talk) 19:18, 29 June 2012 (UTC)



As with so many other philosophical terms, there is no clear-cut definition of discourse - only various author's reference to the word. I'd dare say that, in most contexts, it is very similar to 'language' though, except broader in scope. The article does hint this, mentioning Habermas' "rules upon which speakers could agree on a groundworks consensus". Discourse can also refer to more abstract things like conventions and norms. Generally, discourse is the stuff that defines what can be said about a matter, as far as I understand. -- 15:15, 17 May 2006 (UTC)


Ryerson University's MSW program has a course called "Critical Perspectives on Marginalization". One of our assignments was to go on wikipedia and look up words that relate to the course and edit or create new articles. We are then asked to critique the existing article and our edits. We decided to post our new version of DISCOURSE and see what wikipedia has to say! we welcome all feedback!

--- —Preceding unsigned comment added by APannerific (talkcontribs) 16:49, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

How's discourse related to context? Could something useful be said about that? Kaol 21:06, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

This entry does not make any reference to sociolinguist Jean Paul Gee's notions of big-D and little-d discourse, which have been very influential in applied fields like education. Sophie Oliver (talk) 21:03, 23 January 2010 (UTC)


When did rhetoric stop meaning the art of discourse and when did discourse stop meaning to lead off course? Referring if not obviously to the use of logical fallacies in persuasion, This wiki and that of rhetoric have been reduced to bombast in my opinion, (bombast is still a synonym for rhetoric, maybe that should be changed if rhetoric is just persuasive and not misleading in nature(Ill post this there as well))

Signed manually like it means something

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:28, 12 October 2013 (UTC)


"Habermas trying to find the transcendent rules upon which speakers could agree"

Are the rules, he is trying to find transcendent or transcendental? --Lynxmb 11:28, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

This entry does not make any reference to sociolinguist Jean Paul Gee's notions of big-D and little-d discourse, which have been very influential in applied fields like education. Sophie Oliver (talk) 21:03, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

The reference to Judith Butler's supposed definition of discourse as "the limits of speech" has no citations. The only other document I could find attributing this definition to Butler was a report by Kristen Goulding: <>. Goulding cites page 34 of Butler's 1997 book Excitable Speech; however, I checked the page and could not find the passage quoted. My guess, based on the fact that her book is about "hate speech," is that Butler was actually saying that hate speech is at the limits of discourse, though it is difficult to know. In any event, I believe the definition and reference to Butler ought to be removed from the article, as it has no citation, is of questionable origins, and frankly does not make sense. If anything, discourse could be defined something like "that which defines the limits of speech," which may have been the original idea Butler was expressing. It is not possible to tell without consulting these sources in more depth. I am not an expert on Butler, but based on the above I would think the definition and attribution ought to be removed from the article.

Circular reference[edit]

Why is this article referencing an earlier version of itself? While this might be motivated in some rather special cases, it seems rather circular here. Is this because of some earlier merger with another article? Should it be removed?

--Emil 13:26, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Emil asks "Why is this article referencing an earlier version of itself?"
Now that is a very aposite question.
If dynamic semantics is correct, it is a fundamental nature of discourse that speech acts have meaning precisely because they reference earlier versions of themselves.
As to whether or not that is what Wikipedia articles should do, I cannot say. Harold Philby (talk) 10:38, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Cultural hegemony[edit]

There is a well established use of the term discourse in the Marxist tradition, notably in Antonio Gramsci's concept of cultural hegemony, which tries to explain the capitalist phenomenon as being the product of a dominant cultural discourse. ADM (talk) 21:21, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Hard to understand?[edit]

Was this article perhaps written from a too scholarly perspective? I'm not exactly sure how Wikipedia is supposed to sound, but for the uninitiated, this could be nonsensical. What do others think? —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheSoundAndTheFury (talkcontribs) 15:03, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

It reads more like a manifesto about moral relativism than a clear description of 'discourse'.LegendLength (talk) 03:46, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Is wikipedia a part of the ruling discourse?[edit]

If yes, it just shouldn't write about this notion itself. If no, it should be more critical about psychiatry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:46, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Linguistic definition of discourse[edit]

I believe that in linguistic analysis "discourse" is a generalization of the concept of "conversation" to all modalities (e.g., writing, signing, braille, Morse code) and contexts. This article seems to focus on the postmodern / sociological definition of discourse as a set of communication styles, assumptions, and beliefs common to a culture or community.

I would like to see the distinction between those two senses of "discourse" more clearly drawn in this article, instead of being linked to other articles that touch on the issue. As the article currently stands, it misrepresents the 'social sciences' by focusing on one view of discourse within humanities departments. The emphasis on Foucault is especially disproportionate.

A good initial fix might be to make the links to the "conversation" and "discourse analysis" pages more clear.

Sisyphustkd (talk) 01:09, 25 August 2010 (UTC)sisyphustkd


Foucault seems to be struggling to find a definition that means more or less the same as 'all the things produced in speech or writing making coherent sense that relate to a field around which some sort of demarcation line can be drawn'. If English is to be saddled with 'enouncement', the French word 'énoncer' has to be explained: is it the same as 'enunciation' ? I doubt it. So what on earth does it or is it supposed to mean ?Pamour (talk) 21:42, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

It's supposed to be a way to use words with imprecise meanings to sound smarter than the reader. For someone who has been reading academic texts for years, isn't that obvious? The Sound and the Fury (talk) 20:48, 11 February 2011 (UTC)


I propose deleting "debate" from the lead sentence, as debate is clearly included in communication. If I hear no objections, I'll do it myself in a few day. Piratejosh85 (talk) 15:18, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

okay, hearing no objections, I changed it Piratejosh85 (talk) 23:42, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Link/explanation needed for Performativity[edit]

In the last paragraph of the article, in the section on Feminism, there is a reference to performativity that gives no hint of the meaning of this term, which does require some explanation to maintain the overall non-speciaist tone of the article, and there is no link to the Wikipedia article on Performativity. The link, at least, should be added. (talk) 18:10, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Discursive practice[edit]

Discursive practice is not an independent concept from Discourse, and there is room to add the information to that article SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:05, 9 May 2017 (UTC)

Removed reference to Chinese term[edit]

This was in the lede for some reason:

In China, the general term for discourse is Lun.

That sort of cross-linguistic comparison would be more relevant in Wiktionary I think, than Wikipedia! Arided (talk) 10:53, 17 March 2018 (UTC)