Academic Discourse Vs. Popular Discourse Essay, Research Paper
A discourse community basically speaks for itself and the people involved in that community. It is the way that people within a specific group communicate about common topics of interest. In this paper I will compare the numerous differences between two types of discourse communities. There is an academic discourse that involves more detailed terminology and ideas, and deals with a more specific detailed body of knowledge. Academic discourse is more for the interest of people that are experts or studying a certain field or profession. Then on the other hand, there is popular discourse that deals with more everyday issues and uses more of a basic language that almost anyone who can read can understand. Aiming to grab the attention of teenagers, young adults, and some adults, popular discourse magazines use eye-catching appeals to grab the reader’s attention instead of logical information. I compared the two discourse communities and analyzed the different languages and word presentation used throughout the material that I read. All in all I compared the informative information that each had to offer a reader and as to what appeal if any was used to draw a reader in.
When first picking up the material, I noticed that even the covers of the books differed in extreme ways. For an academic discourse community I used a journal entitled American Psychologist and noted right away the cover, a very dull, navy-blue cover with semi-bold gothic type print reading “American Psychologist” across the top. At the bottom right side in smaller print, line-by-line it reads: “Volume 43, number 12; December 1988: Published monthly by: The American Psychological Association.” For the popular discourse community I used URB, a popular magazine for younger readers. Noting the more colorful, eye-catching cover that reads in large bold-face print across the top “URB,” and then underneath it in much smaller print, “September/October ‘99, Issue 68.” The cover has a large eyeball with bold white lettering across it that reads, “Are We Too High?”
Flipping through the pages of URB I also noted the several bright, “trippy” advertisements that would easily catch the attention the reader. The magazine advertises new and upcoming record releases, d.j. equipment, different kinds of speakers and lights, and other computerized equipment. The article headings are in bold, flashy, computerized, new-age print. In American Psychologist, there are no adds, no fancy colors, and no exciting forms of print. The pages are all white, and the print is all black, page after page, after page.
The language usage throughout the two different completely, simply showing that the two are directed at different types of community group, age and education wise. URB is meant to relate directly to the younger generation in today’s society. The topics and word usage is easy to follow and understand. Slang is used freely throughout the magazine and the articles do not seem to discriminate against moral issues such as drugs, sex, types of music, and partying; has a kind of an “anything goes” attitude about life. A good example of what type of language is used in this magazine is found on pages 76 and 77, where it reads in large print: “Where are all the people that used to go out, now? Did they just have their fun with the drugs and they went to parties and that s it? It shows that it’s not always about the music ’cause music doesn’t really have an age limit on it, ya’ know?”
In American Psychologist, the words and terms are very technical, and unless you were an expert of somewhat in that field, you would probably be a little lost reading the information in a journal like this. An example of the type of terminology used in this journal is on page 1016, where it reads: “Its major purpose was that to educate the Supreme court to the fact that subjective assessment devices are amenable to psychometric scrutiny using validation techniques already familiar to the court in cases involving standardized testing.” Throughout the journal there are many graphs and statistical charts relating to the articles. The graphs would be understandable to anyone in the psychological field, to a college student like me, it just looks like a bunch of words and numbers in a square. Nothing in the journal stood out and made me want to read on, I could barely keep my concentration on reading the information long enough to get good notes down, unlike URB where I sit down and get lost in the magazine for hours just reading on and on. Throughout the journal there were footnotes at the bottom of the pages to help the reader along through the reading material. American Psychologist also had an obituary section to announce the deaths of people that have influenced the field of psychology. I did not seem to notice either of those in URB magazine.
In comparing the two discourse communities, I realized that to understand what is going on in the academic world, a lot of time and studying must be put into grasping and understanding the information that is covered in the specific field that interests you. Everyone wants to be able to show off their level of intelligence and seem somewhat of an “expert” in their chosen field. The popular discourse community seems to be more of an entertainment level of knowledge. The things read in popular magazines are things that anyone can learn just by reading the information once or twice. Basically just small talk and gossip, things that people thrive off of. The differences that I have stated prove that there is a higher level of intelligence need to be able to communicate in an academic environment, unlike a popular community where you can hold a conversation about less complex, unlearned things.