Module 02 - Adapting Your Message to Your Audience
Appendix 2-G: Discourse Community Analysis
Kitty O. Locker 3 August 21, 2006
Larry: “Did you hear about Larry W.?”
John: “About him checking himself into a mental institution?”
Someone else: “He did what? I thought he was having some problems after getting laid
off, but I never realized he was having that sort of problem.”
My current team would see this conversation as offensive; Larry W.’s action is nobody’s business
but his own.
Even when a topic is not seen as immoral or offensive, it may be inappropriate if few players would
be interested in it or if not everyone is educated enough to discuss it. For example, I had an
Astronomy class last quarter which taught the Pauli theory. This theory would be inappropriate to
discuss since not everyone is interested in or understands nuclear physics and chemistry.
Communication Channels and Messages
Face-to-face oral communication is the most widely used channel. In practices, one person (usually
the coach) often speaks to many people at a time, telling the team what to do in certain situations or
instructing the team in the best way to swing a bat. During games, many people may simultaneously
tell a player where to throw the ball. Both these channels carry authoritarian messages, with no
expectation of verbal feedback. Those doing the telling aren't giving suggestions or emotional
support; they are giving the person with the ball an order. Cheering may be designed to elicit
nonverbal, not verbal, feedback, but its messages are supportive and motivational, not informational
or directive. Social communication usually has more people speaking. People are expected to
respond in words to what other people say; everyone has the opportunity to speak.
Nonverbal communication is common. In administrative and social communication, nonverbal
usually augments verbal channels, but it can substitute for verbal cues during practical
communication during a game or practice. For example, when the coach at third base wants to
signal a base runner to keep going, he waves his arms in a circle. When he wants the runner to stop,
he puts both hands out in front of him.
These channels differ from other discourse communities of which the same people are a part. For
example, the church finance committee uses written reports and letters, and many members of
the softball team are on the finance committee. Perhaps the difference is that the softball team is
less formal. From the church’s point of view, it is less important to keep a record of the
discourse. Even team documents that are written--such as the roster, the batting
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