Discourse Analysis Project

As Gee says in his journal, “Literacy Discourse and Linguistics: Introduction” the definition of a Discourse includes five parts. These five parts are Saying, Doing, Being, Believing, and Valuing. To successfully establish yourself into a discourse community you need to follow these guidelines. Field hockey is an example of a Discourse. Darcy A. Fiano uses seven building tasks to explain a Discourse in her article “Primary Discourse and Expressive Oral Language in a Kindergarten Student” the skills and language in a Discourse and also if the practice is a Discourse. Field hockey is a sport played by both men and women all around the world at all ages. It is a game played on a rectangular field having a netted goal at each end, in which two teams of 11 players compete to get as many goals to beat the opponent. Field hockey isn’t a sport one can just pick up one day and start playing. One must learn prior knowledge before picking up a stick. A beginner can learn the field hockey basics through articles like “Rules and Regulations” or “Penalty Corner Plays in Field Hockey” from A isport, a website that describes the basic knowledge of certain situations throughout a field hockey game. But field hockey also requires skills that are not laid out in the rule books, skills you will only learn through playing. In “20 More Field Hockey Facts That All Players Know” an article from the website Buzzfeed community posted by a field hockey group to explain the common everyday occurrences of a field hockey player. Field hockey requires personal experience and certain characteristics that develop over time to be able to play in games and grow in one’s career.

Primary vs. Secondary Discourses

Field hockey is considered a secondary Discourse because it is not something one learns at home, which Gee describes as a primary Discourse. Secondary Discourses are learned through social institutions like school, church, work, etc. Most of the time people will learn basic skills of how to play field hockey through school or an outside league, which is why it is a secondary Discourse. There are a lot of language and skills that need to be learned before actually playing in a game. So when someone begins they usually learn begin with learning how to hold the stick and how to move the ball which is required knowledge and cannot be played without knowing. But as said in the article “Penalty Corner Plays in Field Hockey” from isport field hockey website, “At the more advanced levels, the basics just won’t cut it.” As one matures in field hockey they must be able to learn new skills or ideas as they advance to new levels.

Field hockey has different levels, for example, there is Varsity and JV in high school; the better players will be placed on the Varsity team which is a higher status than the players on JV team. A dominant Discourses allows for the acquisition of social goods and status points, Non-Dominant Discourses do not. Which explains why Field hockey is a Dominant Discourse. As Gee explains

“Dominant Discourse are secondary Discourses the mastery of which, at a particular place and time, brings with it the (potential) acquisition of social ‘goods’ (money, prestige, status, etc.)” (8).

A player can start their career in middle school or high school and continue playing through college, then can go off and become a professional and get paid to play every day. As field hockey can be described as a dominant Discourse it also can be described as a non-dominant Discourse because players can play just for fun. They can just play for the love of the sport or for the social interactions of the team. Non-Dominant Discourses allow for an individual to become part of the social network, there is just no increase in social status and no money involved.

This sport requires a specialized language like the calls made on the field by the umpires and the nonverbal signs used to describe these calls. This is an example of Fiano’s seven building tasks “Sign systems and knowledge. Fiano describes “Sign systems and knowledge” as “The relevant sign systems (e.g., languages, social languages) and forms of knowledge (ways of knowing) that are relevant in a context and how they are used and privileged or unprivileged” (67). Usually all Discourses have their own form of language and in field hockey the rules and how they are called during a game are an example of the Discourse language. In the article “Rules and Regulation” from isport field hockey website it goes into detail about the rules of field hockey during a game and what calls are made on the field when the whistle is blown by the umpire. For example “If the ball hits a player’s foot, the umpire will either award the other team a free hit or let the game continue if the other team gains an advantage. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to use her hands, feet, and body to stop or strike the ball.” After the umpire blows the whistle she/he will lift his knee up and touch his/her foot so everyone knows what the call was and that the team did not have the advantage. Most teams have their own type of language and nonverbal that are not identified with the overall field hockey Discourse. Teams use this so their opponents won’t be able to understand theirs plays during a game. For example on my team, we use the word “dog” while in our attacking circle. This means to dribble the ball towards the end-line and then pass it to the top of the circle to a teammate to take a shot on cage in attempts to score a goal which is what field hockey is all about. Now this is a code only someone on my particular team will understand and will only be learned from playing on this team.

A field hockey player must have more than just skill and knowledge while engaging in practice and games. Field hockey requires a certain type of toughness that no other sports require. As Gee mentions “Very often dominant groups in a society apply rather constant ‘tests’ of the fluency of the dominant Discourses in which their power is symbolized.” The pain is a test for the people who just begin field hockey, whether they will push through and play on or will quit because the pain is too much. As part of the field hockey Discourse players are expected to accept certain injuries that are common occur during a game. In a Buzzfeed community post “20 Field Hockey Facts All Players Know,” the University of South Wales Hockey Club jokes about these common injuries by displaying a black and blue welt that highlights the shape of the ball with the caption

“Ridiculous bruises from balls.”

Players will come across bruises many times throughout a season from being hit with a ball. When hitting a ball one can cause it to go into the air and even become very dangerous. Often players will not have time to get out of the way of the ball and are forced to take the hit. This is a factor that a field hockey player must deal with throughout their whole career. But once you get hit, you can’t come out of the game or sit out of practice. Most of the time a player will only go out if they are bleeding otherwise they continuing playing. This is where the characteristic of toughness comes into play. A player must be able to get up, walk off the pain, and continuing playing. The club also displays a picture with a field hockey players knees bleeding with the caption

“Your knees are always missing chunks of skin.”

This common injury is usually from falling and sliding on the turf. Most likely when lunging during a game to score a goal, or stopping a goal from being scored. Now a true field hockey player will go through all of this pain to win a game and to keep learning to become an exceptional player.

Field hockey isn’t an easy sport to learn like soccer or basketball. There is always something new to be learned as one grows in their career. Most skills and language learned do not relate or can be used in any other Discourses because they are so specific to just field hockey and since each team is different it is very difficult to bring the ideas learned to something new. Like each team sets up on the field differently there is no one way to have the players on the field so one cannot transfer these ideas. Field hockey players go through a great deal of events in their careers that shape them into a unique athlete. Like learning the basics of how to play, focusing on achieving new skills to advance as a player, and going through the pain of field hockey to get the ultimate goal of winning the game. These skills are not laid out in the rules for an outsider to learn, they can only be learned through playing.