Discourse Analysis in Cinderella Story

Discourse analysis is concerned with the study of the relationship between language and the contexts in which it is used. Discourse analysts study language in use: written texts of all kinds, and spoken data, from conversation to highly institutionalized forms of talk. In discourse analysis and grammar much of the discussion will use terms that are common in language teaching: clause, pronoun, adverbial, conjunction, and so on, and we shall be using them in familiar ways. But we shall attempt to relate them to a probably less familiar set of terms: theme, rhyme, anaphoric and so on, in orders to make the link between grammar and discourse. Nothing we shall say will undermine the importance of grammar in language teaching; on the contrary, this takes as a basic premise that without a command of the rich and variable resources of the grammar offered by a language such as English, the construction of natural and sophisticated discourse is impossible. But we shall be arguing that structuring the individual utterance, clause and sentence, structuring the larger units of discourse and creating textual coherence are ultimately inseparable.

We shall be looking at what discourse analysts can tell us about contextualized uses of structures and grammatical items, and considering whether grammar teaching needs to broaden or shift its orientations to cover significant areas at present under-represented in grammar teaching. We begin by looking at grammatical cohesion, the surface marking of semantic links between clauses and sentences in written discourse, and between utterances and turns in speech. For our purposes, these grammatical links can be classified under three broad types: reference, ellipsis/substitution, and conjunction.

B. Discussion

In this part, discussion deals with the analyzing of reference, ellipsis and substitution and conjunction in written discourse: Cinderella story.

CINDERELLA

Once upon a time there lived an unhappy young girl. Her mother was dead and her father had married a widow with two daughters. Her stepmother didn’t like her one little bit. All her kind thoughts and loving touches were for her own daughters. Nothing was too good for them – dresses, shoes, delicious food, soft beds, and every home comfort. But, for the poor unhappy girl, there was nothing at all. No dresses, only her stepsisters’ hand-me-downs. No lovely dishes, nothing but scraps. No rest and no comfort. She had to work hard all day. Only when evening came was she allowed to sit for a while by the fire, near the cinders. That’s why everybody called her Cinderella.

Cinderella used to spend long hours all alone talking to the cat. The cat said, “Miaow“, which really meant, “Cheer up! You have something neither of your stepsisters has and that is beauty.” It was quite true. Cinderella, even dressed in old rags, was a lovely girl. While her stepsisters, no matter how splendid and elegant their clothes, were still clumsy, lumpy and ugly and always would be.

One day, beautiful new dresses arrived at the house. A ball was to be held at the palace and the stepsisters were getting ready to go. Cinderella didn’t even dare ask if she could go too. She knew very well what the answer would be: “You? You’re staying at home to wash the dishes, scrub the floors and turn down the beds for your stepsisters.” They will come home tired and very sleepy. Cinderella sighed, “Oh dear, I’m so unhappy!” and the cat murmured “Miaow.”

Suddenly something amazing happened. As Cinderella was sitting all alone, there was a burst of light and a fairy appeared. “Don’t be alarmed, Cinderella,” said the fairy. “I know you would love to go to the ball. And so you shall!” “How can I, dressed in rags?” Cinderella replied. “The servants will turn me away!”

The fairy smiled. With a flick of her magic wand Cinderella found herself wearing the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. “Now for your coach,” said the fairy; “A real lady would never go to a ball on foot! Quick! Get me a pumpkin!” “Oh of course,” said Cinderella, rushing away. Then the fairy turned to the cat. “You, bring me seven mice, and, remember they must be alive!”

Cinderella soon returned with the pumpkin and the cat with seven mice he had caught in the cellar. With a flick of the magic wand the pumpkin turned into a sparkling coach and the mice became six white horses, while the seventh mouse turned into a coachman in a smart uniform and carrying a whip. Cinderella could hardly believe her eyes.

“You shall go to the ball Cinderella. But remember! You must leave at midnight. That is when my spell ends. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin and the horses will become mice again. You will be dressed in rags and wearing clogs instead of these glass slippers! Do you understand?” Cinderella smiled and said, “Yes, I understand!”

Cinderella had a wonderful time at the ball until she heard the first stroke of midnight! She remembered what the fairy had said, and without a word of goodbye she slipped from the Prince’s arms and ran down the steps. As she ran she lost one of her slippers, but not for a moment did she dream of stopping to pick it up! If the last stroke of midnight were to sound… oh… what a disaster that would be! Out she fled and vanished into the night.

The Prince, who was now madly in love with her, picked up the slipper and said to his ministers, “Go and search everywhere for the girl whose foot this slipper fits. I will never be content until I find her!” So the ministers tried the slipper on the foot of every girl in the land until only Cinderella was left.

“That awful untidy girl simply cannot have been at the ball,” snapped the stepmother. “Tell the Prince he ought to marry one of my two daughters! Can’t you see how ugly Cinderella is?”

But, to everyone’s amazement, the shoe fitted perfectly.

Suddenly the fairy appeared and waved her magic wand. In a flash, Cinderella appeared in a splendid dress, shining with youth and beauty. Her stepmother and stepsisters gaped at her in amazement, and the ministers said, “Come with us Cinderella! The Prince is waiting for you.

“So Cinderella married the Prince and lived happily ever. As for the cat, he just said “Miaow!”

a. Reference

            Reference items in English includes pronouns (e.g. he, she, it, him, they, etc.). demonstratives (this, that, these, those), the article the, and items like such a. some different types of reference are:

  1. Anaphoric reference, it is the reference that can be confirm by looking back in the text (looking backward).
  2. Exophoric reference, it is references to assumed, shared worlds outside of the text. The author expects us to share a world with him independent of the text (looking outward).
  3. Cataphoric reference, it is the reference that given its identities in the next sentence (looking forward).

Anaphoric references:

The first paragraph:

  1. Her mother was dead and her father had married a widow with two daughters.
  2. Her stepmother didn’t like her one little bit.
  3. All her kind thoughts and loving touches were for her own daughters.
  4. Nothing was too good for them – dresses, shoes, delicious food, soft beds, and every home comfort.
  5. But, for the poor unhappy girl, there was nothing at all.
  6. No dresses, only her stepsisters’ hand-me-downs.
  7. She had to work hard all day.
  8. Only when evening came was she allowed to sit for a while by the fire, near the cinders.
  9. That’s why everybody called her Cinderella.
  • Her for number 1 and 2 refer to the unhappy young girl.
  • Her in number 3 refer to Stepmother.
  • Them in number 4 refers to unhappy young girl’s step sister.
  • The, her and she for number 5 until 9 refer to Unhappy young girl.

The second paragraph:

  1. You have something neither of your stepsisters has and that is beauty.
  2. It was quite true.
  3. While her stepsisters, no matter how splendid and elegant their clothes, were still clumsy, lumpy and ugly and always would be.
  • You and your in number 11 and her in number 12 refer to Cinderella
  • It refers to Cinderella’s beauty
  • Their refers to Cinderella’s stepsisters.

The third paragraph:

  1. Cinderella didn’t even dare ask if she could go too.
  2. She knew very well what the answer would be: “You?
  3.  You‘re staying at home to wash the dishes, scrub the floors and turn down the beds for your stepsisters.
  • All of pronouns above refer to Cinderella.

The fourth paragraph:

  1. They will come home tired and very sleepy.
  2. “Don’t be alarmed, Cinderella,” said the fairy. “I know you would love to go to the ball. And so you shall!”
  3. “How can I, dressed in rags?” Cinderella replied.
  4. “The servants will turn me away!”
  • They refers to Cinderella’s step sister
  • I in number 17 and me in number 19 refer to the fairy
  • You and I in number 18 refer to Cinderella.

The fifth paragraph:

  1. With a flick of her magic wand Cinderella found herself wearing the most beautiful dress she had ever seen.
  2. “Now for your coach,” said the fairy; “A real lady would never go to a ball on foot! Quick! Get me a pumpkin!” “Oh of course,” said Cinderella, rushing away.
  3. Then the fairy turned to the cat. “You, bring me seven mice, and, remember they must be alive!”
  • Her and me refer to the fairy
  • Herself, she, and your refer to Cinderella
  • They refer to seven mice.

The sixth paragraph:

  1. Cinderella soon returned with the pumpkin and the cat with seven mice he had caught in the cellar.
  2. Cinderella could hardly believe her eyes.
  • He refers to the cat while her refers to Cinderella

The seventh paragraph:

  1. You shall go to the ball Cinderella.
  2.  But remember! You must leave at midnight.
  3. That is when my spell ends.
  4. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin and the horses will become mice again.
  5. You will be dressed in rags and wearing clogs instead of these glass slippers!
  6. Do you understand?”
  7. Cinderella smiled and said, “Yes, I understand!”
  • All pronouns you, your and I (in number 31) refer to Cinderella.
  • My refers to the fairy.

The eight paragraph:

  1. Cinderella had a wonderful time at the ball until she heard the first stroke of midnight!
  2. She remembered what the fairy had said, and without a word of goodbye she slipped from the Prince’s arms and ran down the steps.
  3. As she ran she lost one of her slippers, but not for a moment did she dream of stopping to pick it up!
  4. Out she fled and vanished into the night.
  • All pronouns above refer to Cinderella.

The ninth paragraph:

  1. The Prince, who was now madly in love with her, picked up the slipper and said to his ministers, “Go and search everywhere for the girl whose foot this slipper fits.
  2. I will never be content until I find her!”
  • Her refers to Cinderella
  • His and I refer to The Prince.
  • This refers to slipper.

The tenth paragraph:

  1. That awful untidy girl simply cannot have been at the ball,” snapped the stepmother.
  2. “Tell the Prince he ought to marry one of my two daughters!
  3. Can’t you see how ugly Cinderella is?”
  • That refers to Cinderella.
  • He refers to The Prince.
  • My refers to Cinderella’s stepmother.
  • You refers to The Minister.

The eleventh paragraph:

  1. Suddenly the fairy appeared and waved her magic wand.
  2. Her stepmother and stepsisters gaped at her in amazement, and the ministers said, “Come with us Cinderella!
  3. The Prince is waiting for you. “So Cinderella married the Prince and lived happily ever.
  4. As for the cat, he just said “Miaow!”
  • Her in number 41 refers to the fairy
  • Her in number 42  and you in number 43 refers to Cinderella
  • Us refers to The Ministers
  • He refers to the cat.

Exophoric reference:

I don’t find any exophoric reference in this short story.

 

Cataphoric reference:

The fourth paragraph:  Suddenly something amazing happened. As Cinderella was sitting all alone, there was a burst of light and a fairy appeared.

The eight paragraph:    If the last stroke of midnight were to sound… oh… what a disaster that would be!

The ninth paragraph:    The Prince, who was now madly in love with her, picked up the slipper and said to his ministers.

We will really understand what all the phrases underlined above means after we read the next sentence.

b. Ellipsis and substitution

            Ellipsis is the omission of elements normally required by the grammar which the speaker/writer assumes are obvious from the context and therefore need to be raised. This is not to say that every utterance which is not fully explicit is elliptical; most messages require some input from the context to make sense of them. English has broadly three types of ellipsis: nominal, verbal and causal.

            Substitution is similar to ellipsis, in that, in English it operates either at nominal, verbal or clausal level. Everyday substitutions tend to be learnt idiomatically.

Ellipsis:

  1. Once upon a time there lived an unhappy young girl.
  1. Go and search everywhere for the girl whose foot this slipper fits.
  2. Her stepmother and stepsisters gaped at her in amazement.

Substitution:

  1. While her stepsisters, no matter how splendid and elegant their clothes, were still clumsy, lumpy and ugly and always would be.
  2. A ball was to be held at the palace and the stepsisters were getting ready to go. Cinderella didn’t even dare ask if she could go too.
  3. “I know you would love to go to the ball. And so you shall!”

c. Conjunction

We include conjunction here in our discussion of grammatical contributions to textuality event though it is somewhat different from reference, ellipsis and substitution. A conjunction does not set off a search backward or forward for its referent, but it does presuppose a textual sequence, and signals a relation between segments of the discourse.

            Discourse analysis ask the same sorts of questions about conjunctions as they do about other grammatical items: what roles do they play in creative discourse, do the categories and realizations differ from language to language, how are they distributed in speech and writing, what restrictions on their use are there which are not reflected purely through sentence analysis, and what features of their use are inadequately explicated in conventional grammars?

            In fact it is not at all easy to list definitely all the items that perform the conjunctive role in English. Single-word conjunctions merge into phrasal and causal ones, there is often little difference between the linking of two clauses by a single-word conjunction, a phrasal one, or a lexical item somewhere else in the clause, a fact Winter (1977) has pointed out.

            Halliday (1985:302-9) offers a scheme for the classification of conjunctive relations and includes phrasal types as well as single-word everyday items such as and, but, ot, etc. here is a simplified list based on Halliday’s three category headings of elaboration, extension and enhancement :

  Type                                       Sub-types                                 Examples

elaboration                               apposition                                in other words

                                                clarification                             or rather

extension                                 addition                                   and/but

                                                variation                                  alternatively

enhancement                           spatio-temporal                        there/previously

causal-conditional                    consequently/ in that case

the full list appears in Halliday (1985: 306), and contains over forty conjunctive items; even that is not exhaustive. So the task for the language teacher is not a small one. However, when we look at natural data especially spoken, we see that a few conjunction (and, but, so, and then) are overwhelmingly frequent. We can also observe the wide use of and where the reader/listener can supply additive, adversative, causal and temporal meanings, depending on contextual information, as in:

  • She’s intelligent. And she’s very reliable. (additive)
  • I’ve lived here ten years and I’ve never heard of that pub. (adversative)
  • He fell in the river and caught a chill. (causal)
  • I got up and made my breakfast. (temporal sequence)

Here, I also use the simplified categorization based on Halliday and Hasan (1976). Those categories are:

  1. Additive (e.g. and, in addition)
  2. Adversative (e.g. but, however)
  3. Causal (e.g. because, consequently)
  4. Temporal (e.g. then, subsequently)

            Based on the short story above we can analyze the function of conjunction as listed in the table:

SENTENCE

KIND OF CONJUNCTION

  1. Her mother was dead and her father had married a widow with two daughters.
  2. All her kind thoughts and loving touches were for her own daughters.
  3. Nothing was too good for them – dresses, shoes, delicious food, soft beds, and every home comfort.
  4. But, for the poor unhappy girl, there was nothing at all.
  5. No dresses, only her stepsisters’ hand-me-downs. No lovely dishes, nothing but scraps.
  6. No rest and no comfort.
  7. You have something neither of your stepsisters has and that is beauty.
  8. Cinderella, even dressed in old rags, was a lovely girl.
  9. While her stepsisters, no matter how splendid and elegant their clothes, were still clumsy, lumpy and ugly and always would be.
  10. A ball was to be held at the palace and the stepsisters were getting ready to go.
  11. They will come home tired and very sleepy.
  12. There was a burst of light and a fairy appeared.
  13. Cinderella soon returned with the pumpkin and the cat with seven mice he had caught in the cellar.
  14. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin and the horses will become mice again.
  15. You will be dressed in rags and wearing clogs instead of these glass slippers!
  16. Cinderella smiled and said, “Yes, I understand!”
  17. Cinderella had a wonderful time at the ball until she heard the first stroke of midnight!
  18. She remembered what the fairy had said, and without a word of goodbye she slipped from the Prince’s arms and ran down the steps.
  19. As she ran she lost one of her slippers, but not for a moment did she dream of stopping to pick it up!
  20. Out she fled and vanished into the night.
  21. Go and search everywhere for the girl whose foot this slipper fits.
  22. I will never be content until I find her!”
  23. So the ministers tried the slipper on the foot of every girl in the land until only Cinderella was left.
  24. But, to everyone’s amazement, the shoe fitted perfectly.
  25. Suddenly the fairy appeared and waved her magic wand.
  26. In a flash, Cinderella appeared in a splendid dress, shining with youth and beauty.
  27. Her stepmother and stepsisters gaped at her in amazement, and the ministers said, “Come with us Cinderella!
  28. “So Cinderella married the Prince and lived happily ever.

 

Additive

Additive

Additive

Adversative

Adversative

Causal

Adversative

Adversative

Adversative and addition

Temporal

Causal

Causal

Temporal

Temporal

Addition

Temporal

Adversative

Temporal

Adversative

Causal

Temporal

Adversative

Adversative

Adversative

Temporal

Additive

Additive

Temporal

C. Conclusion

            This discourse analysis has taken a grammatical concept and has attempted to show how discourse analysis has contributed to our understanding of the relationship between local choices within the clause and sentences and organization of the discourse as a whole. A discourse-oriented approach to grammar would suggest not only a greater emphasis on context larger than the sentence, but also a reassessment of priorities in terms of what is taught about such things as word order, articles, ellipsis, tense and aspects, and some of other categories discussed here.

References:

Cinderella story taken from www.world-english.org. retrieved on june 1st, 2009.

Halliday, M. A. K. 1985. An introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

McCarthy, Michael. 1991. Discourse Analysis for language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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