The combination represents the nonverbal qualities that influence conversation, the factors that change the way the situation and words themselves (discourses) are perceived. Gee believes that these qualities are often overlooked in literacy, despite their significant influence on language and communication. The importance seems to be on two different levels; the professional, and the social. The social importance is simply the impact that the Discourses have on the perception of peers and the general social circle. For example, say someone is a member of the marching band in a high school. The person would have the same general attitudes and beliefs about music as the rest of the people with that Discourse. These attitudes and beliefs would become a part of the representative heuristic of the group, somewhat like a stereotype. When people meet a member of that marching band Discourse, they have immediate implicit attitudes based on that heuristic. Which affects the marching band member’s status in the overall social hierarchy of the high school. The other important factor of Discourses is far more influential, the professional importance.

Professional Discourse involves the presentation of the social self, and the impact of the perception of the Discourse in important life factors. In the reading, Gee gives the example of two women applying for a job. One of the women uses nontraditional English dialect (not standard English), while the other has perfect grammar and dialect. Yet, Gee reflects that the second woman is also not a good fit for the job based on the implications behind some of her statements (or he just really doesn’t like women or minorities). Her values affect the way that she talks, and the way that she talks equally can make her reflect on her values. Professional Discourse also includes the impacts of not using standard English.

As a Discourse can mean anything that involves being categorized in cohort-type realities. One of the more interesting Discourse may be the implications of an early-riser (defined as someone who gets up naturally or by choice before 8 am and doesn’t complain). Early-risers all share similar behaviors (getting up early), they value similar things (sleeping earlier at night, a fresh morning revival), and they belief much of the same ideas (that sleep is better valued when one is woken up earlier).


As I get further into each semester, two of my particular “Discourses” seem to contradict each other. The first Discourse is that I am an early-riser, and I work better when I go to bed early and wake up early. My sleep schedule is both an important value of mine, as well as a lifestyle. The problem, is that I am also a workaholic. It is fundamental belief of mine that all work should be finished before anything else is achieved. The belief influences my behaviors, as I have never been able to procrastinate work. This, in turn, influences the way that I am perceived by other people. The problem with the two Discourses, is that I cannot get my quality sleep while also completing all the work I would like to have gotten done that night. Gee says, on page 8, that “We have argued above that some degree of conflict and tension (if only because of discrete historical origins of particular Discourses) will almost always be present…” (Gee) What I focused on in that sentence, was the idea of discrete historical origins.

What I believe Gee is implying, is that the timing of new Discourses, may be the trigger to form conflicts and tension. The Primary Discourse, a quality that was achieved in an area of comfort and home, was definitely not sleeping. My household is loud. Workaholic tendencies were rewarded within my family, and modeled by my parents. Given that is may be a primary Discourse, that may explain why it often overrules other secondary discourses (especially sleep).


In the scene with Jordan working with her students to create standard English sentences, Gee would probably have trouble understanding the implications. Most likely he would believe that Jordan was trying to help her students get out of the habit of nonstandard English. Gee explained on page 13 that minorities and women should strive for “…Partial acquisition coupled with meta-knowledge and strategies to “make do”…” (Gee). Gee believed that women and minorities could never be perceived as capable without changing most of their Discourses to fake themselves out of their “maladaptation.” I find it hard to believe that Gee would be able to understand that Jordan was actually doing the opposite. Jordan seems to believe in an actual social change, not the change of persona that Gee suggests.

I don’t believe that Gee and Jordan would get along very well. Gee believes that the language derived from minorities provides too many negative implications to be used in a professional setting. While Jordan believes that it is time to adapt the language. On page 364 Jordan says that “White standards control our official and popular judgments of verbal proficiency and correct, or incorrect, language skills, including speech” (Jordan). Jordan clearly doesn’t like those that control and dictate what is good language and diction. Which is exactly what Gee was doing at the end of his paper.


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