Discourse initially (L. discursus, "running to and from") simply meant any communication that involved debate or argument. The term is today used mainly in semantics and discourse analysis. In semantics, discourses are linguistic units composed of several sentences; in other words, conversations, arguments, or speeches.
- Discourse may want an animated "No"
To brush the surface, and to make it flow;
But still remember, if you mean to please,
To press your point with modesty and ease.
- William Cowper, Conversation, line 101 (1782).
- A good discourse is that from which nothing can be retrenched without cutting into the quick.
- St. Francis de Sales, Letter upon Eloquence
- Those who violate the rules of a language do not enter new territory; they leave the domain of meaningful discourse. Even facts in these circumstances dissolve, because they are shaped by the language and subjected to its limitations.
- Paul Karl Feyerabend, Conquest of Abundance, p. 20 (2001 [posthumous])
- A discourse is "a language or system of representation that has developed socially in order to make and circulate a coherent set of meanings about an important topic area."
- Les discours sont des éléments ou des blocs tactiques dans le champ des rapports de force; il peut y en avoir de différents et même de contradictoires à l'intérieur d'une même stratégie; ils peuvent au contraire circuler sans changer de forme entre des stratégies opposées.
- Translation: Discourses are tactical elements or blocks operating in the field of force relations; there can exist different and even contradictory discourses within the same strategy; they can, on the contrary, circulate without changing their form from one strategy to another, opposing strategy.
- Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité (The History of Sexuality), Vol. I, pp. 101-102 (1976–1984)
- Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind.
- Homer, The Odyssey, Book 15, line 433. Pope's translation. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 137.
- We can no longer maintain any distinction between music and discourse about music, between the supposed object of analysis and the terms of analysis.
- It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.
- [H]ow can a democratic discourse exist in a corporate owned informational system? Who, for example, possesses freedom of speech in such a society?
- Herbert Schiller, Living In The Number One Country, Chapter Five, Corporatizing Communication And Culture, p. 138 (2000)