Communicative Planes of Discourse Revisited: Language, Text, Register and Genre
The article raises the issue of correlation between various interconnected facets of discourse, such as language, text, register and genre. Though these notions are well entrenched within discourse studies, it is difficult to offer clear-cut definitions of them, because the phenomena to which they refer are extremely complex and multi-faceted. This article constitutes one of numerous endeavours to clarify these notions and the correlations among them. At the outset, the article defines two of the most basic and, thus, indispensable notions for any discourse analysis, i.e. the notions of language and text, which are herein described in cognitive terms as symbolic assemblies (Evans and Green 2006). Language and text differ from each other with respect to the nature of the semiotic plane they constitute: language is the plane of resources for verbal communication (see Martin 1992), whilst texts are the plane of the manifestation and realisation of such resources. Next, the article clarifies that the realisation of language in particular texts is mediated by the semiotic planes of register and genre, the former concerning the situational variety of the language, and the latter concerning conventional patterns of whole texts (Biber and Conrad 2009). Both register and genre are herein regarded in terms of structures of knowledge concerning WHAT and HOW to communicate in given situational and contextual circumstances; hence, they are regarded as abstract semiotic planes through which language is manifested in particular texts/utterances. Thus, the article advocates the stance that the levels of register and genre constitute the plane of mediation, whilst the level of concrete texts/utterances constitutes the plane of the manifestation and realisation of language in its registers and genres. The article refers not only to studies within the English language but also to relevant areas of Polish genre studies.