I will be honest, when I first began reading Swales’ “The Concept of Discourse Community” I had no clue as to what I was reading. I was really confused but once he started to make connections to organizations like the HKSC (the Hong Kong Study Circle), it began to make total sense. The classes and organizations I am involved with on campus (that could fit the requirements) began to come to mind and I noticed many of my classes fit the six characteristics described by Swales.
One of the classes that I saw that clearly fit the six defining characteristics of a discourse community was Women’s Glee. This class meets for an hour and fifteen minutes twice a week to rehearse music that we ultimately perform at the end of the semester for the public. This class has a set of common public goals of improving vocal skills through a performance of a variety of musical styles. These goals are clearly mentioned in our class syllabus and Moodle page. The Moodle page acts as our way of communication with the professor, sections leaders, and other students enrolled in the class and serves as a way to “provide information and feedback.” This semester we are intercommunicating with the community and giving back to the campus, for example we are performing with third graders from around the community. The third characteristic is achieved because our professor/conductor focuses on giving feedback to each section of singers. Feedback is key to a great performance. For a great performance to occur, we always have to be open to change. Music sometimes has to be changed to fit everyone’s need. For this performance based class, we have acquired some specific lexis. For example, in order to have a performance we have to be able to watch the conductor and learn the hand signals she plans on using during the performance. We learn different terms such as legato, crescendo, decrescendo, diminuendo, and many more. This class has a variety of students that range from those majoring in music to those who are just doing it for fun, but we all have a small “degree of relevant” knowledge towards music.
Another community that I found that fit all the characteristics of a discourse community was BCM (Baptist Campus Ministry). It corresponds with the first characteristic: the club’s goals are to learn to follow Christ more closely, connect students to one another and to area churches, serve others on campus, in the Charlotte community, and around the world! Secondly, BCM has various ways that we intercommunicate with each other. We have a Facebook page (with a group message), our own webpage, Twitter, and cell phone numbers. All these methods of communication serve as way to reach out to one another for upcoming events, feedback (if we gave a testimony), or cancellations, thus this follows the third characteristic. In BCM we have developed a specific lexis that I’ve learned to use in just my second semester of college, the acronym BCM for example. Within the club, we have people who have never been to church to those who’ve grown up in church. Some have gone to a Baptist church and others are of a different denomination but enjoy being with us. We have a very diverse group of people, some are freshmen and some are seniors. But despite our diversity, we all come together for one purpose.
Although both of these groups are completely different, they both work in the same way. I have realized that many things work this way. They follow the same characteristics but in a different form. Women’s Glee works to educate students about music and portray that through our performance. We do this through a more proper manner, via email or Moodle. While BCM is a group that focuses on coming closer to God in a more interactive/fun manner that differentiates from “school manners.” This is expressed through the way we communicate: text, Facebook, or Twitter. And this is where we see the differences in writing practices, although they meet the same characteristics they are by no means the same.