Context and Discourse

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The precise definition of context offered by anyone concerned with it will depend somewhat on the angle from which that person considers the word. Many disciplines rely on their own definitions of context in order to accomplish their work. Linguistics, philosophy, information technology, engineering, and education are just a few of these, and the definitions are as multiple as the disciplines themselves.


Such technicians proceed to use this information to create context-aware software. Close attention to these several definitions and explanations might, however, reveal a common ground upon which a universal concept of context might be built. Though context is often used and understood, it is such a broad and encompassing term that it can hardly be properly defined in a sentence or two. Though it deals with the surrounding condition of a situation, those conditions can take the form of several things, and perhaps that is why context shows up in so many disciplines. And, as it regards discourse analysis, it will be seen that reliance upon context is indispensable in gaining a complete and comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of any text, passage, speech, or other of the forms in which discourse presents itself.
In education, especially reading, context is tangled up with prior knowledge and schema, and the study of it is in an effort to determine its use in the decoding of passages. Here, context is placed in relation to the written word, and it is defined by one as "the belief-revised integration of the reader's prior knowledge with the reader's internalized (co-)text" (Rappaport, 4). ...
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