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The definitions of discourse
Discourse (L. discursus, "running to and from") means either "written or
spoken communication or HYPERLINK
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate" \o "Debate" debate " or "a formal
discussion or debate." HYPERLINK
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse" \l "cite_note-0" \o "" 
The term is often used in HYPERLINK
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantics" \o "Semantics" semantics and
HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_analysis" \o
"Discourse analysis" discourse analysis .
In semantics, discourses are linguistic units composed of several
sentences; in other words, conversations, arguments, or speeches. In
discourse analysis, which came to prominence in the late 1960s, the word
"discourse" is often used as shorthand for "discursive formation"
meaning large heterogeneous discursive entities.
According to HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault"
\o "Michel Foucault" Michel Foucault , discourse has a special meaning.
It is "an entity of sequences of signs in that they are enouncements
(enoncйs)" (Foucault 1969: 141). An enouncement (often translated as
"statement") is not a unity of signs, but an abstract matter that
enables signs to assign specific repeatable relations to objects,
subjects and other enouncements (Ibid: 140). Thus, a discourse
constitute sequences of such relations to objects, subjects and other
enouncements. A discursive formation is defined as the regularities that
produces such discourses. Foucault used the concept discursive formation
in relation to his analysis of large bodies of knowledge, such as
political economy and natural history.(Foucault: 1970)
Studies of discourse have been carried out within a variety of
traditions that investigate the relations between language, HYPERLINK
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_and_agency" \o "Structure and
agency" structure and agency , including feminist studies,
anthropology, ethnography, cultural studies, literary theory and the
history of ideas. Within these fields, the notion of "discourse" is
itself subject to discourse, that is, debated on the basis of
specialized knowledge. Discourse can be observed in the use of spoken,
written and signed language and multimodal/multimedia forms of
HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication" \o
"Communication" communication , and is not found only in
"non-fictional" or verbal materials.
The prevailing sense of "discourse" is defined by the OED as "A spoken
or written treatment of a subject, in which it is handled or discussed
at length; a dissertation, treatise, homily, sermon, or the like." While
previous, archaic definitions of discourse have been "process or
succession of time, events, actions, etc." or "the act of
understanding," discourse is most simply understood today as a sort of
unit of language organized around a particular subject matter and
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