Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey
This monograph investigates discursive features of different types of spoken and written discourse in Spanish. Each of the book’s five chapters is dedicated to a particular text type: political discourse, newspaper columns, administrative texts, popular song (the Spanish copla), and monologues. In the first three chapters, the discussion focuses on forms of argumentation.
The first chapter studies the use of argumentation in its quintessential form, political discourse, usinga speech given during the Second Republic by Clara Campoamor in favor of female suffrage. Turning to argumentation in journalism, in her second chapter, Castellón Alcalá investigates the textual organization of opinion articles in newspapers using two texts published in leading Spanish dailies.
The author has previously published textual analyses of administrative texts, and Ch. 3, on administrative language, is perhaps the best developed section of the book. In addition to examining the linguistic expression of certain textual functions (e.g. justification, motivation, presentation of facts), she extracts typical linguistic chunks and characteristic grammatical forms.
The final two chapters examine two spoken genres of mass diffusion. In her study of the copla of the 1940s and 1950s, the author focuses on the socio-cultural contribution of this musical genre. Due to the high level of figurative language used in the copla, her study verges on literary analysis. In her final chapter, the author investigates the monologue as used in comedies. She provides a brief summary of how the monologue has been conceived in recent scholarly literature and then discusses its various discursive features with an ample number of examples.
The book is a slim volume, with around twenty pages dedicated to each of the five genres. In most chapters the analysis is based on a restricted corpus of data: the analysis of political discourse is based on a single text and that of journalistic language on two; likewise, the chapter on administrative texts appears to use essentially two texts, although it likely draws upon data from previous work. The study has certain limitations, but the author’s approach serves as a model of analysis for further research on discourse characteristics. The book may be of interest to teachers working with high school students in a Spanish native speaker context or in a second language context with undergraduate students of Spanish.