Discourse to the discourse analysts means actual instances of communicative action in the medium of language.
According to Blommert (2005:2) as cited in Johnstone (2008:2) discourse is the meaningful symbolic behavior in any mode. Discourse is not totally focused on language as an abstract system. Instead discourse is interested in what happens when people apply the knowledge they have got from language that is based on their memories of things they have seen or heard.
Discourse is also a conversation that is formal in nature. It can be in a written form or a spoken form of expression. Discourse analysis deals with spoken language, which occurs naturally and this can be found in interviews, conversations, speeches and commentaries. It also deals with the structure of written language which can be found in essays, chapters, road sings and notices.
Discourse is also seen as a linguistic communication and a transaction between a speaker and a hearer involved in an interpersonal activity in which its form is determined by its social purpose.
However, discourse analysis as a relation to a more traditional form of linguistics which is focused on the constituent units and structure of the sentence and which does not concern itself with an analysis of language use. Discourse analysis in contrast to formal linguistics, is concerned with translating the notion of structure, from the level of the sentences i e grammatical relations such as subject –verb – object, to the level of longer text.
Conversation generally involves an exchange between two or more people in which each participant may produce more than one utterance and each contribution builds upon previous contributions either directly or in directly.
Discourse analysis focuses on the analytical process in a relatively explicit way. What differentiates discourse analysis from other sorts of study that bear on human language and communication is not found in the way they try to answer them. That is, they analyse discourse by examining aspects of the structure and functions of language in use.