Discourse Analysis - Analysis of a short story
A document on an analysis of a short story written by me, hope it helps, especially to those who are doing this kind of assignment. Good luck!
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Discourse Analysis - Analysis of a short story
Name Matric No. Email
Khairunnadiah binti Mohd Samuddin 117456 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mohammad Qadafi bin Durrani Tan 117458 email@example.com
Due Date: December 2, 2013 (Monday)
1.0 Analysis and discussion
1.1 Semantic Macro structure
The point of macrostructures is that texts; not only have local or micro structural
relations between subsequent sentences, but they also have overall structures that define
their global coherence and organization. Based on the text, one proposition will be derived
from each paragraph which will then help in determining the semantic macrostructure.
Semantic macrostructure can be derived from the process of generalisation and
construction which we need to extract the abstract from the object, the properties and the
Macroproposition Higher Level Macroproposition
1 The author wanted to know the details about the
driver’s cowboy hat; where did he get it, but he thought
she was flirting with him
The author’s curiosity of the bus
driver’s cowboy hat
2 The bus driver was distracted because of the author and
accidentally hit an old lady when she was crossing the
An accident happened because of the
author’s curiosity of the cowboy hat
3 The injured old lady asked the author to call her
daughter as her last wish before she passed away
A tragic death caused by the author’s
curiosity of the cowboy hat
Deriving macropropositions from each paragraph undergoes generalisation process;
that they are constructed to be a more general proposition from the respective paragraph –
sort of a summary that best explains the storyline.
1.2 Semantic analysis
Presupposition is a background belief relating to utterance in the text that can be
known or assumed by the author and the addressee; that can be considered acceptable in
Higher Level Macroproposition Semantic Macro-structure Macro rule's application
1) The author’s curiosity of the bus
driver’s cowboy hat
2) An accident happened because of
the author’s curiosity of the
3) A tragic death caused by the
author’s curiosity of the cowboy
My stupid curiosity of a bus
driver’s cowboy hat has taken
away someone’s life in the most
The semantic macro-
structure has been
constructed via deletion of
and generalisation to reach
the gist that best describes
the whole story
the context of the text. Some of the characteristics; it can generally be associated with a
specific lexical item or grammatical feature (presupposition trigger) in the utterance.
Based on the text, these are the presuppositions derived:
a) The bus stopped at the zebra crossing when the red light is turned on.
b) The bus driver cannot hear what the author is trying to say.
c) The incident occurred in the morning.
d) The author was walking alongside the pedestrian walkway.
e) The author was in shock and lost for words when the accident occurred.
In (a), the presupposition is derived from the event where the author keenly asked
the bus driver about the cowboy hat. So it can be concluded that the bus was stopping at
the zebra crossing when the traffic light turned red, as the author shouted and pointing her
finger at the cowboy hat outside of the bus. The presupposition in (b) is derived from the
line “He waved at me and just smiled”. The author shouted and pointed her finger at the
cowboy hat because she was really curious about - where did the bus driver get it, but he
only waved and smiled at her, signifies that he cannot hear and grasp the message of the
author. In (c), the presupposition suggests that the incident occurred in the morning. It is
safe to say so, based on the very first sentence in the essay; “The day was bright” and it is
further reinforced by the description of the people she saw in town. The shopkeepers,
barbers and florists’ actions strongly support the presupposition. In (d), it is derived from
the first paragraph when the author describes the people she saw in town; kids playing in
the park, the florist putting flowers for display, barbers sweeping the floor and getting
ready to start their business hour of the day. In (e), it is derived from the second paragraph
when the author describes her expression regarding the accident. The author tells that she
was in shock, lost for words and found it hard to believe what she has just witnessed.
Inferences are derived beyond the lines within a text. These are the inferences that
can be drawn from the essay; only typical examples are provided due to space constraint:
a) The old lady knew her time had come (passed away)
b) Someone who grabbed the back of the author was a pedestrian
c) The bus driver was distracted by the author behaviours
The inference represented by (a) is implied when she asked the author to call her
daughter immediately. She repeatedly asked the author to call her daughter even though the
state of her mind is unstable at the moment. We can also infer that the old lady has only
one child and she is really important to her, it is a common sense to believe so as the
daughter was the first person who came across her mind in the tragic event. In (b), we can
infer that someone who grabbed the back of the author was a pedestrian too. This is
because the accident occurred at the zebra crossing making it logic to believe that a
random pedestrian attempted to console the author. The last inference we can make is the
bus driver was distracted by the author’s behaviours particularly towards him; she was
shouting and pointing at the cowboy hat. He misjudged the author’s behaviours that he
believed she was hitting on him. Consequently, he was not focused and has accidentally hit
an old lady when the green man light is still on allowing the pedestrians to cross on the
1.3 Syntactic structures
Due to space constraint, only typical examples are provided here.
To avoid repetition, the writer uses pronouns for the second and subsequent
mentions of the same entity. Examples of personal reference include:
Their ‘… while watching over their kids …’ The third personal pronoun ‘their’ is used as
the object of the verb. It is the reference for
the adults that has been mentioned earlier
I ‘ … I was about to walk …’ The first personal pronoun ‘I’ is used to refer
to the main character (actor) as the subject in
‘I waved at him and pointed my
finger to his hat.’
The object pronoun ‘him’ is used to refer to
the bus driver.
The possessive pronoun ‘my’ is used to refer
to the main character; the author of the text
The possessive pronoun ‘his’ is used to refer
to the bus driver clarifying that the hat
belongs to him
In paragraph 3, the writer leaves out a complete clause rather than repeating it. This
is possible because it is understood in the context.
Example 1 “What’s happening? Am I dead?”
It is understood that the main
character’s message to the old lady is
denying that she is dead. Saying ‘no’
is enough to deliver the message.
Example 2 “Can you please call my daughter?”
she said …
“Yes. What’s her name?”
The main character agreed to call her
daughter and proceeded with asking
for the name and number to complete
In this narrative text, they are mostly additives, reflecting the General – Specific
patterns. There are also adversative and causal conjunctions in the text.
Additives Adversative Causal
‘ … smiles on their faces while
‘ … barbers sweeping the floor
and shopkeepers …’
‘Not the driver but the cowboy
‘However, the fact that an …’
‘… disbelief but no voice was
‘ … what I was trying to say so
I shouted …”
Additives conjunctions as stated in the table above are used to simply add more
information explaining the whole thing to make a clear comprehension for the
Some of the essential words of the narrative text are repeated several times directly
or through synonyms.
Example 1 Example 2
‘ … I can’t help but to notice the driver. Not
the driver, but …’
‘ … the bus hitting an old lady ... The bus
driver was not focused while driving and
accidentally hit the lady because …’
To conclude, the text has cohesive ties and linking devices that hold the text
together and give it meaning.
The text is coherent in a way; readers can easily move from one sentence to the
next and read the text as an integrated whole unit rather than a series of separated
sentences. It does not have a specific type of audience; it is a suitable reading material for
all social groups. The text has accessible and relevant concept and relations as explained
a) The day was bright. I can see adults having conversations with
smiles on their faces while watching over
their kids playing in the park. I can see
florists putting bouquets of flowers in vases
for display, barbers sweeping the floor and
shopkeepers putting up the ‘open’ sign on
b) Not the driver, but the cowboy hat on his head
to be particular.
I waved at him and pointed my finger to
c) I saw the bus hitting an old lady who was
innocently crossing the road as the traffic light
turned red and the green man light turned on.
The bus driver was not focused while
driving and accidentally hit the lady
because of my stupid curiosity of the
d) She repeatedly asked me to call her daughter
and stared me with hope in her eyes but she no
longer grabbed me closely to her.
I sensed no movement and that was when
somebody grabbed my back and said
The order of statements in (a) is related to one another by sense; the author starts off
describing the day as bright and further elaborates it by illustrating the people she saw
while walking in town. She elucidates the adults with the expression on their faces – they
were smiling; this actually gives the readers an idea of how fine the day was. ‘The day was
bright’ can also be inferred that it was early in the morning; it is reinforced with the
elucidation of florists, barbers and shopkeepers – what they were doing clearly informs the
readers of the situation in the text.
The organization of statements in (b) is relevant and logic in a way; the author first
emphasized on the bus driver’s cowboy hat telling the readers that it is a significant entity
in this context. The subsequent sentence aids in supporting the significance of the cowboy
hat by describing the act of the author towards it – waving the bus driver and pointing to
the hat intentionally wishing to get some information about it out of the driver.
The same thing goes to (c) and (d), the statements are related to each other by sense.
They are invented out of logical, relevant and accessible concept and relation as required
by the context. In conclusion, the text is cohesive for there are cohesive devices tying the
sentences and utterances and at the same time abiding by the rules of grammar and
coherent as the statements are relatively relevant and accessible by sense.
1.3.3 Active Voice
Based on the text, most of the sentences are active voice. This is to signify the
subject; the subject performs the action denoted by the action verb. Due to space
constraint, only typical examples are provided:
Agent Action Affected Entity
a) I saw the bus hitting an old lady who was innocently
crossing the road
b) She was literally shaking -
Both (a) and (b) have the same syntactic structures; they are active sentences. Such
structure is used to signify the prominence of the agent rather than focusing on the affected
entity. In (a), the writer wants the readers to focus on her presence and actions. She is the
one who saw the bus hitting an old lady who was innocently crossing the road. The active
voice helps readers to dig more on how the scene affects the agent. In (b), the writer uses
active voice to highlight the old lady presence and action. There is no patient; direct object
involved in the sentence. The action is affecting the agent - that further focuses on the
Based on the text, transitivity can be elucidated further in terms of agent, action,
affected entity and how certain arrangements of these three elements give contradicting
meanings and representations of reality. Due to space constraint, only typical examples are
Agent Action Affected Entity Adjuncts
a) I waved at him
b) The sound of the brakes
being hit forcefully
irritated my hearing -
c) My eyes were literally bawled
d) I screamed out of shock and
In (a), the verb ‘waved’ is represented as a transitive verb. It carries the action of the
actor which is the author herself and applies it to the affected entity which is the bus driver.
It tells the reader what the agent does to the bus driver; waving at him. In (b), ‘irritated’ is
also represented as a transitive verb as it needs object to complete the sentence and gives a
complete meaning in the context. An agent is not necessarily a human being, in the
sentence, the sound of the brakes plays the agent function. The verb carries the action of
the agent and applies it to the affected entity; which is the hearing of the author. It informs
us what the agent does to the patient.
On the other hand, in (c), the verb used shows action too but it will only affect the
agent. The verb ‘bawled out’ is an intransitive verb; it does not need an object to give a
complete meaning to the sentence. The action is affecting the author. The same explanation
can be applied in (d) as well. The action ‘screamed’ affects the agent only.
1.3.5 Simple, compound and complex sentences
Based on the text, it is fairly structured in a complex way with excruciating details
elucidated and it is very seldom to find a simple clause structure. However, simple, and
compound sentences are included as well even though there is not much. Due to space
constraint, only typical examples are represented:
Simple a) [The day was bright]
b) [She was literally shaking]
Compound a) [My eyes were literally bawled out] [and] [I screamed out of shock and
b) [I sensed no movement] [and] [that was when somebody grabbed my
Complex a) I saw the bus hitting an old lady who was innocently crossing the road
as the traffic light turned red and the green man light turned on
(yellow) – the agent/ (green) – the verb or process/ (red) – subordinate
There are a lot of complex sentences in the text as it is a narrative essay that needs
very excruciating details to be put as description of the characters and situations as well.
Based on the text, in general, past tense is used to describe the storyline. Not only the
verbs used signify that the story had happened in the past, the adjunct of time and time
expression are also included to specify the particular time in the past. Due to space
constraint, only typical examples are provided:
Simple Past a) The day was bright
b) I waved at him and pointed my finger to his hat
Past Continuous a) She was literally shaking
The simple past is used to inform that the event occurred in the past. In (a), the
author starts off describing the day as bright. The day the event occurred happens in the
past referring to the verb used. It is necessary to infer that the event occurred in the past
looking at the verb used without any particular time expression. The same explanation
applies to (b) as well. Past continuous is used to refer to repeated actions which occurred
in the past. In (a), the action of shaking by the old lady is described as a continuous action
which occurs in the past; right after the accident happened.
1.4 Lexical structures
Based on the text, the event occurs in informal setting whose main characters are the
author herself, the bus driver and the old lady. Conversations recorded are casual, there are
colloquial languages detected. Therefore, to conclude; the text is a casual register.
Colloquial language “The cowboy hat you’re wearing!
Where did you get it?”
“Yes. What’s her name? Give me
b) The author uses such language to
make friendly overtures to the
bus driver and breaking down the
c) The author simplifies her
language to make it easier to
understand while talking to the
injured old lady
2.1 The invented essay
The day was bright. I can see adults having conversations with smiles on their faces while
watching over their kids playing in the park. I can see the florists putting bouquets of flowers in
vases for display, barbers sweeping the floor and shopkeepers putting up the ‘open’ sign on the
door. A bus passed by me and I can’t help but to notice the driver. Not the driver, but the cowboy
hat on his head to be particular. I waved at him and pointed my finger to his hat. He did not seem to
get what I was trying to say so I shouted and at the same time still pointing. “The cowboy hat
you’re wearing! Where did you get it?”. He waved at me and just smiled. I was pretty sure he
thought I was hitting on him and that assurance of feeling became stronger when he winked his eye
As I was about to walk away, my eyes suddenly caught a tragically unavoidable accident.
My eyes were literally bawled out and I screamed out of shock and disbelief but no voice was
recorded. I saw the bus hitting an old lady who was innocently crossing the road as the traffic light
turned red and the green man light turned on. The bus driver was not focused while driving and
accidentally hit the lady because of my stupid curiosity of the cowboy hat. I distracted him. The
sound of the brakes being hit forcefully irritated my hearing. However, the fact that an accident
happened because of me and possibly had affected someone’s life scared me most.
I ran towards the lady and had her head on my lap. “Stay with me, you’ll be alright.
Somebody call the ambulance, please!” I cried out loud. “What’s happening? Am I dead?” she
asked. “No. You’ve been in an accident but you’ll be fine. Just stay with me, okay?”. The situation
could not get more chaotic, everyone was in a panic attack. “Can you please call my daughter?” she
said while grabbing my hands. She was literally shaking. “Yes. What’s her name? Give me her
number”. She repeatedly asked me to call her daughter and stared me with hope in her eyes but she
no longer grabbed me closely to her. I sensed no movement and that was when somebody grabbed
my back and said “She’s gone”. Empty.