Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf
HS: Theories of Genres
Dozentin: Heidrun Dorgeloh
Referentin: Aleksandra Krupenka
Genres and the New Rhetoric
What we all know about Patent
Patent – a printed document, describes an invention, identifies its inventor and declares
particular aspects of the invention as original.
Features of patent: 1. the text opens in the form of a letter
2. ends with precise claims of novelty and a signature of the
inventor and two witnesses
Genre as Typified Utterance and Intention
Carol Miller The genres identify the possible intentions one may have.
John Swales In order to understand one’s intentions one should be able to
Charles Bazerman recognize a genre system.
Mikhail Bakhtin The utterance itself is socially defined, in terms of its relationship
to the other speakers’ utterances. “All our utterances have definite and relatively stable typical
forms of construction, we speak only in definite speech genres.
The primary speech genres correspond to typical situations of speech
communication (greeting, military commands, request for information, marriage
proposals).The situations that evoke the primary speech genres derive their regularities.
The secondary speech genres of writing are derived from the primary.
Both primary and secondary genres involve regularities and typification, but generic forms are
more flexible than the grammatical or other linguistic patterns, creativity is possible and
John Swales The genre is defined primarily by its common communicative
purposes, these purposes (and role of genre within its environment) mould specific textual
Patent in Renaissance England was simply a designation of a monopoly privilege granted
by the Crown. Later a temporary monopoly was granted to the inventor of a new good if the
invention would advance the economic well-being of the country.
The first Patent bill was signed by President Washington in April 1790, placing
responsibility for approving patents on three cabinet members: Secretaries of State and War,
and the Attorney General. They were to decide the importance of the invention. The
application was to include a specification and a drawing, the form of the application was not
determined by the law. In 1793 the law had simplified a registration system..
Patent Applications and Grants as Speech Acts
Austin and Searle
In order to make a speech act successful one have to pay attention to the conditions
that surround the utterance of the speech. (felicity conditions).
The contextual conditions identify timing of the utterance, authority of the utterer,
relationship between speaker and hearer, etc.
The conditions of success (who one is, who hears, the hearer’s perception of the
speaker and the utterance, the channel of the communication) build up a set of rules, which
should be fulfilled.
Difficulties with Speech Act Theory
1. the importance of the local circumstances in the identification, interpretation
and realization of the speech acts.
2. the polysemousness of speech acts. Any speech act may be uttered and
interpreted with a variety of intentions and have attributive meanings.
Example: When an intimate friend tells you his dream, it may be a request for interpretation,
an invitation to tell your own dreams or he has not any single or clear intent.
Speech Acts are not Generally a Langue
Saussure Speech acts exist where langue and parole meet, at the alive
If one pays attention to different activities and interpret them, one may notice
perceivable regularities in speech acts. One can define the game, when one analyses and
interprets the behaviour of the participants.
Legal Systems and Systems of Genres
Every law requires volumes of proceedings, negotiations, letters and studies.
Every patent requires a thick file of correspondence, forms, documents. These documents are
all in well defined genres which are closely related to each other. Thus there is a complex
web of interrelated genres, where each participant makes a recognizable act in some
If some aspects of the performance of the speech act do not meet a condition of
success, the challenge takes place.
In the United Sates the participants in the legal system have a very regularized
and regulated speech acts, but these acts may be also recreated.
Systems of Genre
Systems of genre are interrelated genres which interact with each other in
specific settings. To achieve a success we should be able to understand and follow the
By identifying the currant text as a speech act in a certain generic form and
paying attention to the contextual conditions and the conditions of the success we precise the
new rhetorical aims.
The concept of kairos – the choice of a specific generic utterance, which brings
us to certain consequent speech act, and enables us to participate in another speech acts. If
we have a good understanding how to operate through the generic turns, we can locate
ourselves, our potential speech acts, and the criteria our utterance will meet.