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Context and Discourse - Essay Example

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The precise definition of context offered by anyone concerned with it will depend somewhat on the angle from which that person considers the word. Many disciplines rely on their own definitions of context in order to accomplish their work. Linguistics, philosophy, information technology, engineering, and education are just a few of these, and the definitions are as multiple as the disciplines themselves…
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Context and Discourse
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"Context and Discourse"

Download file to see previous pages Such technicians proceed to use this information to create context-aware software. Close attention to these several definitions and explanations might, however, reveal a common ground upon which a universal concept of context might be built. Though context is often used and understood, it is such a broad and encompassing term that it can hardly be properly defined in a sentence or two. Though it deals with the surrounding condition of a situation, those conditions can take the form of several things, and perhaps that is why context shows up in so many disciplines. And, as it regards discourse analysis, it will be seen that reliance upon context is indispensable in gaining a complete and comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of any text, passage, speech, or other of the forms in which discourse presents itself.
In education, especially reading, context is tangled up with prior knowledge and schema, and the study of it is in an effort to determine its use in the decoding of passages. Here, context is placed in relation to the written word, and it is defined by one as "the belief-revised integration of the reader's prior knowledge with the reader's internalized (co-)text" (Rappaport, 4). Here co-text refers to written text that surrounds the problematic word or phrase whose meaning the reader currently struggles to decode. In this discipline, experts often refer to "context clues," which direct the student to the passage being read, delineating it as the context. One researcher cites six kinds of context clues in what is known as contextual analysis. Students are expected to gain insight into the text using hints provided by the context, and those hints come in the form of definition clues, synonym or comparison clues, contrast clues, example clues, and explanation clues. In addition to these clues from the text, context (as mentioned before) is extended to include inferential clues, which come not from the text being read but from the prior experiences of the reader (Doyle). So that context according to this view has both an internal and external aspect. However, once the text becomes internalized, context may be considered to be in the domain of the mind.
In engineering, some consider context a "filter" that determines the meaning to be applied to certain terms or actions in a given situation. In fact, according to Yaser Bishr who seeks to prepare a foundation on which to base a contextual theory of geospatial applications, any definition of context must include such measures as follow. Contexts should define what is common to any input in a given situation. It should be restrictive, in that it allows only certain meanings of any vocabulary involved to actually be admitted as meaning to be derived from the situation. The truth of any statement of fact should depend upon "a collection of assumption which implicitly define context" (Bishr, 2), and all "facts" are understood to be factual only when a context is defined. Therefore, though the statement "all birds can fly" is untrue in Antarctica, it is true in the context of Brazil, where no penguins exist.
This view of context also asserts that thought and interpretation across contexts is allowable; however, "when several contexts occur in a discussion, there ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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