A DISCOURSE DESCRIPTION OF FOUR FUNDRAISING TEXTS – LINGUISTS MEET PRACTITIONERS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

Patrick Chi-Wai Lee

Abstract

This exploratory study presents four fund-raising texts for an analysis. Two are written as appeal letters and two as leafl ets. Their purpose of writing is to persuade an audience of Hong Kong residents to donate money for charity organizations. A qualitative approach informed by ethnography is adopted. Interviews with two organizations are conducted and verbal reporting of practitioners is used. In this study, one focus is on the schematic structure of texts and fund-raising texts are recognized as a particular of genre. The ‘Problem-solution discourse pattern’ can be applied to the fund-raising texts even though practitioners did not acknowledge they use any linguistic models. As for the textual moves, ‘situation or problem’ is always placed at the beginning of the text because it is crucial to let readers know what the main theme is. Then there are diff erent combinations of the second move including ‘response, solution or problem’. The fi nal move is always ‘response’ and two meanings of ‘response’ are refi ned to diff erent parameters: (i) tangibility: tangible and virtual solution, (ii) time frame: proposed and reference solution, and (iii) depth of target-achievement: ultimate and specifi c solution. Another focus of this study is on the choice of style. As persuasion of readers to donate is crucial, adding involving devices is to engage readers and make them ‘particular’, which increases the possibility to solicit response successfully. Involvement devices include using you and imperative clauses. Finally, with reference to the issue of whether ‘textual structure tells us the reality’ or ‘the reality creates the structure’, practitioners are not concerned too much with text structure. Practically, the reality to them is embodied in the structure.

Keywords

choice of style; ethnography; fundraising; text-structure; practitioners

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