Understanding Genre in Use

Lili Zhan
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Department of English, NTNU
The past fifteen years have witnessed a dramatic re-conceptualization of genre and its role in the production and intepretation of discourse in which genre analysis has been transformed from a descriptive to an explanatory activity. Bhatia's (1993) cognitive structuring model integrates sociology, psychology and linguistics with genre study. According to Bhatia, cognitive structuring is composed of moves, which are in tum realized through strategies. The present study, taking prepared public speeches (PPS) as data, conducts a genre analysis within Bhatia's famework. This paper aims to investigate the cognitive structuring of English PPS, examine typical strategies which speakers choose to convey their communicative purpose and explore the factors that influence speakers' choices, and uncover linguistic realizations of moves and strategies. This study reveals that: (1) a strategy does not solely belong to a definite move; it may appear in other moves as well; however, the function differs , (2) the choice of strategy is principally determined by a speaker's communicative purpose and influenced by the subject of the speech, the audience, the place, and the occasions, (3) sequencing of moves displays a great flexibility, which to some degree reflects the dynamic nature of genre. The research findings are assumed to promote understanding of how writers/speakers select strategies to achieve their communicative purposes within the constraints imposed by the genre to which that discourse belongs