Discourse

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Fri Jun 16 03:07:48 MDT 1995


As a man who's largely self-educated (or, more accurately,
educated by the socialist movement and the public library
system), I'm always happy to discover words and phrases which
have a certain elegance to them.  One such word which has crept
into the vocabulary of the left in the past decade or two is
"discourse", and I find it very handy, an appropriate filler for
gaps which otherwise might have needed an entire phrase.

My sister-in-law*, however, is a college instructor in
literature.  She never, ever, uses the word "discourse", choosing
instead "conversation". This isn't only where that's any easy
alternative ("there's an ongoing conversation on this subject")
but even where it seems a little strange ("I like the tone of the
conversation in your newspaper").

Now that I'm getting a glimmer as to what "discourse theory" is,
I understand her distaste a little better.

Tom

*Lisa: To get the kinship charts straight, this is my wife's
brother's wife.

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