Journal article Open Access

Reading and Teaching Poetry as Communicative Discourse: A Pragma-Linguistic Approach

Omnia Elkommos

Language is communication on several discourse levels. The target of teaching a language and the literature of a foreign language is to communicate a message. Reading, appreciating, analysing, and interpreting poetry as a sophisticated rhetorical expression of human thoughts, emotions, and philosophical messages is more feasible through the use of linguistic pragmatic tools from a communicative discourse perspective. The poet's intention, speech act, illocutionary act, and perlocutionary goal can be better understood when communicative situational context as well as linguistic discourse structure theories are employed. The use of linguistic theories in the teaching of poetry is, therefore, intrinsic to students' comprehension, interpretation, and appreciation of poetry of the different ages. It is the purpose of this study to show how both teachers as well as students can apply these linguistic theories and tools to dramatic poetic texts for an engaging, enlightening, and effective interpretation and appreciation of the language. Theories drawn from areas of pragmatics, discourse analysis, embedded discourse level, communicative situational context, and other linguistic approaches were applied to selected poetry texts from the different centuries. Further, in a simple statistical count of the number of poems with dialogic dramatic discourse with embedded two or three levels of discourse in different anthologies outweighs the number of descriptive poems with a one level of discourse, between the poet and the reader. Poetry is thus discourse on one, two, or three levels. It is, therefore, recommended that teachers and students in the area of ESL/EFL use the linguistics theories for a better understanding of poetry as communicative discourse. The practice of applying these linguistic theories in classrooms and in research will allow them to perceive the language and its linguistic, social, and cultural aspect. Texts will become live illocutionary acts with a perlocutionary acts goal rather than mere literary texts in anthologies.

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