The use of language depends on multiple factors which determine the nature of the speech that makes up communication in a given situation. Different kinds of speech of discourse genres can be identified, each one characterized by particular properties tied to the goal of communication in an enunciation situation, for example narration, argumentation, description, conversation. Each of these genres can be differentiated in a more precise way (for example, for narration, personal autobiographical accounts, accounts of recent past events, stories that make up part of a cultural heritage….). Different discourse genres can be combined in a single communication situation. The communication register is sometimes also considered to be a part of the discourse genre, for example according to certain sociolinguistic parameters of the speech situation.
Each cultural group has its own set of discourse genres: certain major kinds (ex. narration, conversation) seem to be commonly found but their formal and contextual characteristics can vary importantly from one culture to another.
Contents validated by the Groupe de Travail 4 (multimodality and visual-gestural modality)