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This is a contribution from Handbook of Pragmatics compiled by Jef Verschueren and JanOla stman
2006. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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Jan-Ola stman & Jef Verschueren

in collaboration with Eline Versluys
Handbook of Pragmatics 2006
2006. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publ. Co



Britt-Louise Gunnarsson



The term applied linguistics (AL) has been given a wide range of interpretations
(Corder 1973; Crystal 1981; Trudgill 1984; Kaplan 1990; Sridhar 1993; James
1993). The traditional and most widespread use of the term is also the narrowest
one, restricting AL to the application of linguistic research to mother tongue education and to the teaching and learning of foreign and second languages. According to
this interpretation, the central issues are language acquisition and learning, testing,
error analysis, and teaching methodology and technology.
A broader interpretation sees AL as covering different types of problem areas
within society, not only educational problems, but practical and social problems
of all kinds (Trudgill 1984; Gunnarsson 1995a; 1997a; Bygate 2004; Candlin &
Sarangi 2004). A glance at the programs of early congresses within applied linguistics shows for instance that language for specific purposes, LSP, was recognized
quite early on as a central area of AL. Standardization of terminology, computer
aids and document design were early concerns within this field. Language planning
was another prominent subfield of applied linguistics.
At a theoretical level, early AL studies reflect the situation in general linguistics at the time. Work carried out in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s is clearly indebted
to structuralism and to functional stylistics (Malmberg 1981: 9). Early work in
the LSP field also reflects structuralism and a functionalist approach to language
(Gunnarsson 1995b).

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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

Over time a broadening of the scope of AL has taken place. As linguistics

has expanded to include pragmatics, text linguistics, discourse analysis, semiotics,
sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, critical linguistics and conversation analysis,
AL too has undergone changes. The study of smaller units, of words and sentences,
has yielded ground to studies of larger units, of texts and discourse. An interest in
more global text patterns and in spoken discourse, combined with a growing awareness of the relationship between text and context, has changed the subject-matter
of linguistic investigation. The earlier exclusive focus on verbal elements is now
replaced with analyses of the various multimodal dimensions of text and talk.
As theoretical and methodological interests and insights have evolved, linguistic analysis has been able to solve new types of problems, and along with this
widening of the perspective, new areas have become central to those interested in
AL. Medical discourse, communication in the professions, workplace interaction,
intercultural negotiations, forensic linguistics, language and the media, immersion
education, adult language learning, language and education in multilingual settings,
discourse and technology, and language and gender are examples of AL areas in the
Disciplines like socio- and psycholinguistics have brought a multidisciplinary approach to the study of language and discourse, as has cross-disciplinary
collaboration between linguists on the one hand and anthropologists, sociologists,
ethnomethodologists, psychologists, educationalists and technicians on the other.
In theoretical terms, AL has travelled from structuralism to social constructivism.
This new situation for linguistic research has blurred the borderline between
general and applied linguistics and also between fundamental research and its
application. The earlier view that AL is a matter of applying linguistic research to
problem areas is misleading as a description of modern AL. On the contrary, AL
studies play a part in the development of linguistic theory and methods.
Compared with general linguistics, the subject-matter of applied linguistics
is language and communication in real-life situations, and the goal is to analyze,
understand or solve problems relating to practical action in real-life contexts. The
focus is not on language per se, but on language in use. The link with real life steers
the selection of questions to be asked and also the methods by which answers are
sought. It does not, though, limit the theoretical aspirations of AL.
Martin Bygate means that this theoretical aspiration is axiomatic.
The dilemma for the applied linguists, however, is that they need to be doubly
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Applied linguistics

accountable, in ways which non-applied academics need not be. He writes that
applied linguists need to be accountable in their choice and use of theories and
methods to the rigours and informed criticisms of their academy, and from related
academies from which they may need to borrow and adapt the tools necessary for
their work. // However, applied linguists also owe accountability to the lay communities which they also claim to serve. This they cannot convincingly do without
attending beyond the discourse of those communities to their perceived needs.
In the year of 2006, AL thus comprises studies relating to a wide range of
different settings and problem areas within society. To give an overview of all these
studies would be impossible, and I have therefore chosen to limit my account to a
few settings, within which important AL work has been carried out.

2. The educational setting

The educational setting is the traditional arena of AL studies, and it still occupies
an important place in the life of AILA, the International Association for Applied
Linguistics. The latest AILA congress, which was held in Madison, Wisconsin,
in 2005, included several strands relating to education: adult language learning,
learner autonomy in language learning, child language, contrastive analysis and
error analysis, educational technology and language learning, foreign language
teaching methodology and language learning, immersion education, language and
education in multilingual settings, language testing and evaluation, literacy, mother
tongue education, second language acquisition, evaluation assessment and testing.
As in other subareas, the borderline between applied and non-applied linguistics is not easy to draw. This said, it must be stated that there are a quite strong
applied tradition in relation to classroom teaching and language learning in schools
and colleges. The researchers even urge teachers to carry out their own research.
The goal is better practice in the classroom, and the researcher wants to make the
teacher observe what is going on, to start a continuing research activity. Widdowson
(1990) discusses the theory and practice of language teaching. His idea is a mediation process between theory and practice. The theoretical side should entail an
appraisal of principles, and the practical side an application of theories. He stresses
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

that the division of responsibilities between the researcher and the teacher does not
parallel the distinction between theory and practice. In accordance with such ideas,
Burton & Bartlett (2005) discuss the design and implementation of classroom-based
research in a practitioner research guide for teachers.
Other important borderlines relate to our analytical frameworks. For writing
and learning to write, Roz Ivani (2004:225) distinguishes six discourses: a skills
discourse, a creativity discourse, a process discourse, a genre discourse, a social
practice discourse and a socio-political discourse. For each type of discourse, he
shows the consequences for the layer in the comprehensive view of language, the
beliefs about writing, the beliefs about learning to write, the approaches to the
teaching of writing, and the assessment criteria. A similar set of frameworks could
of course be applied to analysis of talk and learning to talk.
It is indeed difficult to give an overview of the whole educational setting (cf.
Encyclopedia of Language and Education 1997). My ambition here is more humbly
to point to a few trends.

Child language and early literacy

Much research has been devoted to early development of talking and writing skills.
One group of studies on child language acquisition is carried out within a cognitive
framework. The chapters in Bowerman & Levinson (2001) analyse how the process of language acquisition interact with early cognitive development, Perkins &
Howard (2000) present studies on language acquisition in children whose language
learning capacity is in some way impaired. The interest in these studies is to find
the universal features. The aim of the crosslinguistic comparisons is thus to show
the relative contributions to the development process made by the childs innate
linguistic capacity and the specific properties of the language being acquired.
Other studies owe a debt to the developmental perspective of Piaget and
Vygotsky. Many studies have been devoted to literacy problems and to early
development of talking and writing skills (Whitehead 1999). The earlier focus on
mother-child interaction (Snow & Ferguson 1977; Sderbergh 1977) has given way
to a more general focus on the role of the adults for the childs literacy development
(Blum-Kulka & Snow 2002). The preschool childs efforts to learn to write have
been focused on in many studies (e.g. Liberg 1990), as has the inter-relationship
between reading, writing, speaking and listening (Corden 2000). The gradual and
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differentiated acquisition of the skill to express oneself orally and to participate in

classroom conversation has been studied (Barnes & Todd 1977; Myhill, Jones &
Hopper 2006). The focus is enlarged to cover talk also outside the classroom in
Maybin (2006), where children in their own voices express the complexity, contradiction and ambiguity that constitute their lives and their identities.

Classroom interaction

Many studies have also focused on interaction in the classroom, both teacher-pupil
and pupil-pupil interaction. In the 1960s Bellack and his colleagues studied the language of the classroom, describing educational activity as related to three interactive
moves: soliciting, responding and reacting (Bellack et al. 1966). Sinclair & Coulthard
(1975) used the classroom situation as a step towards the development of a model
for discourse analysis. Their approach has been quite influential and their framework has been elaborated to suit language classes (Lrscher 1983). The component
of classroom interaction that has most interested researchers is the exchange, that
is (teachers) initiative, (pupils) response and (teachers) feedback. This tripartite
structure is studied in depth by Mehan (1979) and found to be an organization principle in classroom interaction. Mehan sees this structure as constitutive of the event
of a lesson, that is as constitutive of a social reality in interaction. He talks about a
constitutive ethnography of the classroom. The relationship between participation
in classroom interaction and constraints and affordances for creating equity in classrooms is analysed in Sahlstrm (1999). Participation is there demonstrated to rely on
the turn-taking systematics outlined in conversation analysis (CA).
An initiative-response analysis was developed and used for the study of dialogue processes in L2 lessons (Linell et al 1988; Gustavsson 1988). Gardner & Wagner
(2004) uses CA (conversation analysis) to explore natural, casual talk between
speakers in a second language. Brouwer & Wagner (2004) propose methodological procedures for the study of second language learning by bringing together two
frameworks: CA and the theory of situated learning.

Second and foreign language learning

A large group of studies have been devoted to problems relating to second language
acquisition. In the late 1950s and early 1960s a major concern was to determine
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

L1 influence on L2 learning and use. The predominant method was contrastive

analysis, that is L1 and L2 were compared and areas of similarity and difference
were identified. Positive and negative transfer could be predicted as facilitation
or interference (Weinreich 1953; Wardhaugh 1970). Another early approach was
known as the study of errors. Morpheme studies focused on different types of
error, in order to establish an acquisition order, while performance analysis used a
more varied approach, studying both correct and erroneous behavior. An overview
of second language learning theories is given in Mitchell & Myles (1998), while
Gass & Selinker (2001) discuss the various approches taken to second language
aquisition, e.g. SLA and linguistics, Universal Grammar, interlanguage processes,
interlanguage in context, input, interaction and output, instructed second language
learning, non-language influences and the lexicon. They also present an integrated
view on SLA.
An interactional angle to second language acquisition is taken in Faerch &
Kasper (1985), where the focus is on different communication strategies revealed
in communication. In the Vygotskian tradition more recent studies have focused
on second and foreign language learning through classroom interaction (Hall &
Verplaetse 2000).
A large number of studies have focused on immersion programmes in different countries and on different languages (Johnson & Swain 1997). The best known
study might be that on the French immersion programmes in Canada (Swain &
Lapkin 1982), but there are also studies on English immersion programmes in
Sweden and Swedish immersion programmes in Finland.
A more recent focus is on the multicultural classroom. Hoosain & Salili
(2005) present studies on the role of language in multicultural education mainly
in North America but also in Hong Kong, Australia and Belarus (former part of
the Sovjet Union). The crosscultural perspective is also central for the volume on
foreign language research edited by de Bot et al (1991).
2.4 Teaching methodology and language testing
The question Can language acquisition be altered by instruction? has been asked
and answered differently by many AL scholars. A variety of tools have been developed in order to facilitate learning, e.g. cognitively based thinking maps (Hyerle
2004) and computer-mediated tools. The use of Internet for distance learning has
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been studied during the last decade (Egbert & Hanson-Smith 1999; Garrison, 2003;
Duffy & Kirkley 2004).
A relevant question that has come into focus is the role of language awareness
or consciousness in language learning, where awareness is related to intuitions or
implicit knowledge related to ones own or others (implicit) knowledge (James &
Garrett 1991). Another relevant question relates to the role of explicit genre knowledge for the gradual maturity of the text writer. Characteristic of the genre discourse,
e.g. in Australia, is the idea that writing is best learnt from explicit instruction
(Christie 1987; Martin et al 1994). Also discourse analysis has found its way into
educational practice. Shohamy (1990), indeed, finds it necessary to stress that discourse analysis ought to be considered in language testing, and Riggenbach (1990)
claims that discourse analysis should be integrated in spoken language instruction, a
claim that is also put forward in Brown & Yule (1983), amongst others.

Schooling and society

Basil Bernsteins work (1971, 1973) on the importance of class and early socialization has, although criticized by many, served as a basis for a great deal of research
with a sociological perspective. Reading and writing, language learning and teaching have been studied from a sociolinguistic angle (see Stubbs 1980; Pride 1979;
Wenger 1998). Attitudes and motivation, for instance, are considered to play important roles in second language learning (Gardner 1985). The most recent trend within
the sociological tradition is related to a growing awareness of the importance of
language socialization and literacy in bilingual and multilingual societies. Many
studies deal with these issues with a variety of foci, e.g. the family and schooling
(Bayley & Schecter 2003; Martin-Jones & Jones 2000; Barton & Tusting 2005).
In this context, I would also like to mention a few studies of schools as societal
institutions. Bourdieu & Passeron (1970), Lundgren (1972) and Gale & Densmore
(2000) view schools as educational systems, which reproduce the social structure
and the established order. Power and identity is also a topic in Heller (1999).
The critical perspective is also central in Kramsch (1993, 2004). In the chapter Looking for a third place, she writes: The language that is being learned can
be used both to maintain traditional social practice, and to bring about change in
the very practice that brought about this learning. (2004: 233). The sociopolitical explanations and consequences have been developed in approaches known as
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

Critical Literacy or Critical Language Awareness (Fairclough 1992; Janks 2000;

Gee 1996; Ivani 2004).

3. The economic-technical setting

Research exploring the uniqueness and variation of texts for specific purposes has a
long tradition within AL as has research directed towards the improvement of written documents. This early interest in the text produced were followed by an interest
in the writing process and in the intertwinement of text and talk in the professions.
In the last few decades the main focus has been on discourse in organizations, and
the term Professional Discourse has gradually come to replace LSP, Language for
specific purposes, to name the subarea.


Improving written documents

The plain language movement flourished in the 1970s and early 1980s. The idea
was to formulate strategies and rules for users which would improve different
kinds of documents. Perhaps the most widespread and enduring result of this movement was what were called readability formulae. Based on a mechanistic view of
reading and comprehension, formulae were developed which could measure the
difficulty readability of texts. Most of them counted word and sentence length.
The theoretical basis for these formulae is very weak, but they owe their popularity
to their simplicity.
The plain language movement is much more than these formulae, however,
and some work has been done under this umbrella which is of good theoretical standard. Basing their studies on psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology, Linda
Flower and John Hayes managed to give their document design work a theoretical
orientation. They conducted experiments with readers and writers, and came to
develop their famous writing model (Hayes & Flower 1980).
Instructional science was also used as a basis for document design work,
for example in Europe. Instructional research centres on the development of
procedures for optimizing learning in specific situations. Its aim is to establish rules that specify the most effective way of attaining knowledge or mastering skills. Another field which has contributed to document design work is that of
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human factors. Here, methods and techniques are developed for the application of
experimental procedures in real-life situations.
The plain language movement has not ceased to exist, although its focus has
shifted. Studies are oriented towards text linguistics and rhetoric with the goal of
improving instructions, guidelines and technical reports, finding adequate strategies
for the drafting of sales promotion letters and job applications, and also popularizing
difficult documents. The development of The Journal of Business Communication,
the first number of which appeared already in 1963, reflects this change, as does
the newly merged journal Information Design Journal + Document Design. A good
example of its broad application is also Shuy (1998), where a number of tools for
communicating more clearly in government and business settings are given.

Studies of discourse in organizations

Numerous studies have been devoted to the analysis of writing in non-academic

settings. These studies border in many cases on work on organization within sociology. The relationship between organizational structure and culture, hierarchy and
writing activities is elucidated in a variety of studies, using methods ranging from
pure survey to ethnographic observation and sociolinguistic analysis. The collective character of writing at work is shown in Winsor (1989), and its close connection with spoken discourse in Gunnarsson (1997b).
These studies could be seen as precursors to the research on discourse in
organizations and institutions which will be dealt with under this heading. With a
theoretical orientation towards sociology and organization/network theory, social
constructivism, critical linguistics, ethnography and conversation analysis, these
studies on organization try to grasp and understand problem areas relating to the
complexity and diversity of communication in the professions. The aim is not
mainly to describe differences relating to the various professions as to find macroand micro structures in professional discourse as such. In many ways these studies
can be seen as pointing towards the future.
The relationship between organizational structure and culture, hierarchy and
writing activities have earlier been elucidated in a variety of studies, using methods
ranging from pure survey to ethnographic observation (Odell & Goswani 1986;
Spilka 1993). What characterizes the work within this area is its close connection to
sociolinguistics and to work on organizations within sociology (Bargiela-Chiappini
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

Gunnarsson (2005a) gives an account of research related to different types of

organizations. In one study the writing activities of a local government office were
analysed in relation to its internal structure hierarchies, clusters, role patterns as
well as to the external networks to which the actors-writers belong. Within this
workplace, complexity was found to be related to the roles played by the writer,
the network structure and also the intertwinement of spoken and written discourse.
Complexity was also found central within larger organizations, which were the
focus of a contrastive study. Banks and structural engineering companies were
studied in three countries: Germany, UK and Sweden. Based on interview data and
analyses of texts, the relationship between discourse, organizations, and national
cultures were explored. The organizational ideas and communicative policies of
each enterprise were found to matter for the structure of discourse at the same time
as national cultural patterns could be distinguished.
A current theme within studies of professional discourse is related to the
communicative practices within transnational companies. In Gunnarsson (2005a),
a study on the multilingual practices of a transnational company with its head office
in Sweden is also discussed. The term parallell writing is used to describe the
practices established within the Electrolux group. This term relates to text writing
in different languages based on a common raw material, which is sent out from the
head office in Stockholm. The selling offices throughout the world receive this raw
material, from which they can choose ideas and parts for the writing of customer
brochures in their respective language and for their respective group of customers.
The role of translating is thus minimized and mainly reserved for official documents like annual reports (Jmtelid 2002).
In a globalized business world, many companies are forced to use English
lingua franca, ELF, as their corporate language. Currently there are a great number
of research focusing on this practice. Nickerson (1998) analysed ELF in email writing within an international company in the Netherlands, and Kankaanranta (2005)
analyses the use of ELF in email correspondence between Finns and Swedes.


Legal and bureaucratic settings

Within legal and bureaucratic settings, there are many problem areas that have come
to involve AL scholars. I will concentrate here on three areas: (1) comprehensibility
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of legal and bureaucratic language and texts, (2) asymmetric interaction in court
proceedings and police interrogation, and (3) the use of linguistic knowledge in the
legal process, a field often referred to as forensic linguistics.

Comprehensibility of legal and bureaucratic language

A good deal of work on the comprehensibility of legal language has been based on
the many descriptive studies of the characteristics of legislative language in terms
of vocabulary, syntax and textual patterns (Mellinkoff 1963; Gustafsson 1984;
Kurzon 1986; Bhatia 1987; Hiltunen 1990). Other studies have had a sociological
foundation, analyzing the functions of laws and other legal texts (Danet 1980a;
Gunnarsson 1984).
One problem area focused on relates to the comprehensibility of legal language, that is, to the asymmetries in reading comprehension between lay people and
professionals. Being undertaken with the aim of facilitating reading and comprehension for the ordinary man or woman, these studies have come to clearly reflect
the theoretical situation within psycholingustics. In the 1960s legislative texts were
analysed and assessed in relation to their readability, which involved a mechanical
way of analysing documents at a surface level. An analysis of jury instructions by
Charrow and Charrow (1979) represented a step forward. Their ideas for reform
derived from a number of linguistic factors. However, they were not based on any
theory of text comprehension or on a very inquisitive analysis of the societal function of the texts. The comprehensibility problem related to jury instructions is also
dealt with in Dumas (2000).
Other studies have had a more theoretical foundation. On the basis of a
critique of previous research, Gunnarsson (1984) rejected the concern with lexis
or syntax, which went no further than memorization or the ability to paraphrase,
and developed a theory of functional comprehensibility focusing on perspective
and function orientation (implications for action). A similar approach was taken
by Austrian researchers, who also included in their model a socio-psychological
dimension relating to attitudes towards legal language and law text reading (Pfeiffer
et al. 1987). These studies view the reading of laws and text comprehension in
a societal framework. The individuals reading and understanding of the text is
discussed in relation to the functions of laws in society. In Gunnarsson (1989)
the comprehensibility problem is discussed in relation to the law-making process.
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

The collective and negotiative character of the law-making process at different

stages militates against the idea of a reader-oriented text.

4.2 Asymmetries in court and police encounters

Courtroom proceedings and police encounters have been studied by linguists, sociologists and ethnographers from a variety of perspectives. Studies have focused
on different types of content and argumentative features, in order to reveal how
utterances are part of a prior and anticipated context. Cross-examination, questionanswer patterns, topic progression and recycling, argumentative structure, and story
patterns have been analyzed. This research has emanated from different traditions,
ranging from speech act theory to an ethnomethodological tradition comprising
micro-analysis of varying elements in dialogue (Atkinson & Drew 1979; Danet
1980b; Danet & Bogoch 1980; Bennett & Feldman 1981). Courtroom interaction
has also been studied using the technique of CA, conversation analysis, (Atkinson
1992; Drew 1992; Philips 1992). A focus on mediation in court from the perspective of intertextuality and interdiscursity is also to be found.
Another line of research has focused on the understanding and interpretation
of utterances. Within a sociolinguistic theoretical framework, experiments have
been carried out with different versions of utterances, in order to test powerful and
powerless speech, gender differences etc. in style, self-presentation, tone of voice
etc. (OBarr 1982; Adelswrd et al. 1987; Conley & OBarr 1998).
The pre-trial phase, that is the police interrogation, has also attracted AL
research. Cicourel (1968) analyzed the part played by police questioning in the
long bureaucratic judicial process. In this pioneering work, he studied the social
construction of cases, particularly the formation and transformation of the images
of young delinquents as the cases pass through the legal system (police, social workers, probation officers, prosecutors, courts). Lynch (1982) studied argumentation
in pre-trial versus trial situations. Jnsson (1988) focused on another problem
associated with the bureaucratic routine. Her interest was in the interplay between
police interrogation and the written police report, and she analyzed to what extent
police officers were influenced when interrogating suspects by the fact that they
were going to write a report. A more detailed analysis of the perspective-setting in
police interrogations is presented in Linell & Jnsson (1991).
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Finally there are studies that examine the role and effectiveness of legal interpretation. As well in police interrogations as in the court room, interpreters play
essential roles for the process (Berk-Seligson 1990, 2000).


Forensic linguistics

A different problem area is represented by what is termed forensic linguistics.

Linguists are directly involved in the legal process, used as expert witnesses and the
like. Taped conversations are analyzed and used as criminal evidence. Roger Shuy is
the linguist who has published most widely on this subject (Shuy 1993). Linguists
have also been used in the identification of speakers and of voices, and in the forensic
application of dialectology and of dialogue patterning. Overviews of studies within
the field of forensic linguistics can be found in Kniffka (1990) and Levi (1994).
A general approach to the role of language in courtroom interaction is taken
in Solan (1993). Solan, who is a trained lawyer as well as a linguist, analyses in
revealing detail how a person trained in both legal and linguistic theory can illuminate the critical question of how judges have approached the dilemmas of language
disputes and what the legal consequences have been.
In Gibbons (2003) the use of linguistic evidence in court proceedings and
police interrogations is exemplified. Important contributions within this area has
been done by Roger Shuy (1993, 1997). An interesting use of linguistic analysis in
court is presented in Goodwin and Goodwin (1997), which analyses the interplay
between linguistic and non-linguistic means in the construction of the court discourse in the famous Rodney King trial in Los Angeles in 1992.

5. The medical-social setting

Medical discourse has also been studied from a variety of angles. The problems that
arise between doctors and patients have been seen to a large extent as interactional,
and it has been assumed that it is possible to do something about them. The asymmetries between doctor and patient have been analysed in various ways. Elliot
Mishler (1984) talked about the two different voices in doctor-patient interaction,
the voice of medicine and the voice of the life world, which represent different ways
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

of conceptualizing and understanding patients problems. The different perspectives

in medical interaction have been the concern of Aaron Cicourel, one of the founding
fathers of doctor-patient research. By means of a conversation analysis of extracts
from doctor-patient encounters he was able to reveal important sources of miscommunication (Cicourel 1981). Another method being used to grasp the different perspectives of patient and doctor is narratology, and there is a growing interest in the
study of patients narratives (cf. Hydn & Mishler 1999).
Among the different medical specialities, psychiatric treatment has been of
particular interest to linguists. A well-known example is Labov & Fanshels work
on therapeutic discourse (1977). Neurotic and psychotic language is analyzed in
Wodak & Van de Craen (1987). Interaction with aphasia and dementia sufferers has
also been studied, as well as talk to and about old people.
A more institutional approach to the study of discourse in the medical setting is
taken in Lalouschek et al. (1990) and Wodak (1997). The actual discourse between the
medical actors, doctor, nurse, patient and relative, is analyzed in relation to a macrodescription of the institution as a working organization, comprising an analysis of
roles, routines and events. The research team found a clear relationship between the
setting, the physical and mental state of the professionals and the actual conversation.
The doctors behaviour towards the patients, for instance the length of the conversation, the tone and the degree of mutual understanding, varies with the degree of stress
and tension caused by the events occurring. The Wodak study was carried out within
the critical discourse analysis paradigm, and it has also found a direct application in
that the research team have based courses for doctors on their results.
In Sarangi and Roberts (1999), several important analyses of discourse in
medical settings are presented and placed in their theoretical and methodological
framework. Discourse in medicine can be said to belong to the most vital subareas
within AL. One sign of this is the newly established journal Communication and
Medicine, another sign the section on Medical discourse in the second edition of
Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2005).

6. The workplace
In recent decades, considerable interest has been devoted to interaction and
communication in workplaces. I use workplace in a very wide sense, covering institutions and organizations, as well as more traditional blue-collar workplaces.
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6.1 Workplace interaction

The volume Talk at Work (Drew & Heritage 1992) include studies of different working life settings interviews, emergency calls, court proceedings, a hospital setting.
The analyses carried out within the interactional sociolinguistics and CA tradition,
thus focusing on the questioner, the answerer or the interplay between the two. A
more recent study on a medial encounter is found in Heritage & Lindstrm (1998).
A broad range of methodologies are used for the analysis of the construction
of professional discourse in Gunnarsson, Linell & Nordberg (1997), which include
studies on interaction at a variety of workplaces. The aim of Stubbe et al (2003)
is to compare different methodologies. The same data, one workplace interaction,
is analysed using the techniques of conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, politeness theory, critical discourse analysis, and discursive pshychology.
Sarangi and Roberts (1999: 157) give a valuable theoretical perspective on the
dynamics of institutional and interactional orders in work-related discourse which
are likely to form a background for future studies on institutional discourse.
The sociological approach is a common denominator for the studies included
in Barton and Tusting (2005), the aim of which are a description of the various
communities of practice within professional life. Holmes and Stubbe (2003) analyse power and politeness in the workplace. A particular focus in workplace studies
has been on interaction involving immigrants with other mother tongue than the
dominant language at work (Clyne, 1994, Gunnarsson 2005c).

Conflicts and negotiations

Encounters in working life have also been focused on from the perspective of
the complexity of the social and cultural dimensions involved. Special problems
relating to workplace interaction arise when accidents occur, in spite or because of
the interaction. In a Labovian tradition, Charlotte Linde (1988) has analyzed interaction in relation to authentic disasters. She discusses the role of politeness strategies in aviation discourse. By means of a quantitative measurement of mitigation,
she analyzed discourse failure and success in data from eight aviation accidents and
also in data from flight simulator experiments.
Considerable practical interest attaches also to intercultural negotiations,
and many studies have focused on negotiations between individuals from different cultures and with different mother tongues. Firth (1995) includes studies of
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

negotiations in intraorganizational encounters, in commodity trading, and in

professional-lay interactions. Negotiations are studied in the varied settings of
the doctors office, the welfare bureau, the travel agency, the consumer helpline,
government, the university and business. Professional communication in international settings is also dealt with in Pan et al (2002), where the focus is on the
communicative activities of telephone calls, resums (or CV), presentations and

Discourse and technology

Another subarea where there is much work in progress relates to the complexity due to new technology. Since the 1990s an increased number of studies have
focused on the use of fax, e-mail and other computor mediated genres for business
purposes (Bargiela-Chiappini and Nickerson, 1999), and the multimodal character of discourse is explored in a variety of professional interactions (Le Vine and
Scollon, 2004; Norris and Jones, 2005, Karlsson, 2005). Meetings and negotiations
by means of video technique have been recorded and analysed as have interaction
in call centers (Oliviera, 2004).


Science and the academic setting

The scientific arena can be seen as a special kind of workplace. It has, however,
followed a tradition of its own, a sociological-rhetorical tradition with a clear basis
in the sociology of science.
7.1 The sociological-rhetorical study of scientific discourse
Within the sociology of science tradition, several studies have been devoted to analyzing the role of texts in the establishing of scientific fact. The scientific field is
seen as a workplace, a laboratory where social rules determine the establishing of
facts and the rank order of the scientist. Knorr-Cetina (1981) was one of the first
to describe the writing up of results as a process of tinkering with facts rather than
a knowledge-guided search. Latour & Woolgar (1986) described the social
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Applied linguistics


construction of scientific facts as an antagonistic struggle among scientists, leading

to a purposeful diminishing of the results of others and a levelling up to a generalized level of ones own results.
Bazerman (1988) studied the rise of modern forms of scientific communication, focusing on the historical emergence of the experimental article. A social
constructivist approach in relation to written texts is also found in Myers (1990),
which deals with the writing of biologists, and in Bazerman & Paradis (1991),
which examines the important role played by texts in profession-building. Textual
forms and definitions are found to impose structure on human activity and help to
shape versions of reality. Texts are shown to play powerful roles in staging the daily
actions of individuals, and to be important factors in the rise of action.
7.2 The study of academic genres and writing
Writing at college and university level and the different academic genres of writing
have attracted the attention of many researchers. As within the educational area,
much research has been steered by the practical need to improve the teaching of
writing in the college classroom. The Freshman Writing Program in the US, which
means that academic writing is being taught to all college students, has led to a large
number of studies on genres and on the writing process. The development within
this field owe a debt to Bakhtin, Leontev and Vygotsky, as well as to Bazerman and
other researchers within the sociology of science (7.1).
Linda Flower, who has produced numerous books and articles on the writing
process, stresses in one of them (Flower 1994) the negotiative character of writing in a truly Bakhtinian sense. Within the American writing tradition, it is also
common to see learning to write as an adaptation to the academic discourse community in a sociological tradition. In Johns (1997), for instance, learners are assumed
to acquire literacy in particular social contexts, thus developing socioliterate competence through exposure to the genres specific to those contexts.
Within the American writing tradition, the learners adjustment to the
academic discourse community is focused on from a sociological angle (e.g.
MacDonald 1994). Typical of this group of researchers, working in the competitive society of the US, is their interest in rhetorical (persuading) patterns (Swales,
1990; Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995). The European tradition, on the other
hand, builds more on a text linguistic tradition, with a close analysis of large
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Britt-Louise Gunnarsson

text corpora at different levels: pragmatic, referential-cohesive, thematic, and

cognitive (Schrder 1991, Gunnarsson, Melander & Nslund 1994, Gunnarsson
2005b). As a third approach to writing, I would like to distinguish the systemic
grammar approach, which in particular has been influential in Australia (Halliday
& Martin, 1993; Martin & Rose 2003).
Candlin & Hyland (1999) give research accounts of academic and professional texts emphasising the role of cultural and institutional practices in the construction and interpretations of these. In Hyland (2003) a complex methodogical
framework is used to describe social interactions in academic writing, including
praise and criticism, citation and intertextuality. power and authority and the construction of expertise. The complexity of academic discourse is also shown in
Risnen (1998), which explores the conference practice and its system of interrelated genres in engineering. Risanens study is based on observations, interviews
and text analysis. Ethnographic methodology is also used by Swales (1998) for the
study of the textography in academic settings.
Academic genres have also been studied from a cross-cultural angle, with
the aim of revealing differences and improving L2 writing. The contrastive rhetoric tradition, which has been influenced by the pioneering work of Kaplan in the
1960s, has led to many important studies on differences between the writing of
scholars with different language backgrounds. In most cases, the basis for comparison has been the English language and the Anglo-American culture (Kaplan, 1966;
Purves 1988, Connor, 1996). A more European basis in found in Mauranen (1993),
Melander et al (1997), and in Dahl (2003).


Spoken discourse within academia

Also spoken discourse within academia has been studied, though much less than
written discourse. I would like to bring up three approaches to academic talk.
Firstly, I would like to mention a study which shows the discursive intertwinement
of the verbal and non-verbal. Ochs (1994) analyses how physicists are constructing
knowledge through talk and visual representations. Secondly, I wish to mention
some studies focusing on gender and power. The construction of female subordination through academic classroom and seminar discourse is dealt with in Bergvall
(1996) and in Gunnarsson (2002). A third approach to academic talk focuses on the
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language choice. Mauranen (2005) analyses the use of English Lingua Franca in
spoken discourse among academics in Finland.



Applied linguistics encompasses a wide range of studies, and this article has not
been able to give more than a brief idea of all the research going on. Many areas
have not been mentioned, such as work on communication with blind and deaf
people, on interaction with the disabled, on bilingualism, and on the whole field of
language planning. Rather than attempting to cover everything, my aim has been to
give an overview of broader developments within AL. I have stressed the dynamic
and expansive character of AL research, a field in which collaboration cuts across
disciplines and where theories and methods are involved in the search for an understanding of problems relating to language and discourse. The narrower view of
applied linguistics as an area dealing with the application of linguistic theories to
language teaching is most certainly no longer valid.

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