Review of The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics
|EDITOR: James Simpson
TITLE: The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics
SERIES TITLE: Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Taiwo Abioye (PhD), Department of Languages, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria.
This is a handbook that provides comprehensive overviews of key topics in
applied linguistics. It is a compilation of articles by scholars in the field,
and thus, it serves as a resource text for both advanced level, undergraduate
and postgraduate students. The handbook comprises forty-seven articles, or
chapters, and is divided into five parts. At the end of each chapter, the
authors present a list of related topics and selected references for further
readings related to each chapter. Furthermore, a historical overview of almost
all the topics is presented.
In Chapter 1, ‘Language Policy and Planning’, Lionel Wee focuses on how language
policy and planning practitioners should engage policy makers and the general
public in addressing language challenges in a multilingual/multicultural
society, as opposed to the earlier notion in which linguists were considered
final initiators of appropriate language policy and planning (LPP) initiatives.
He explores the evolution of LPP as an academic discipline via a historical
overview and goes further to examine three main challenges of LPP, paramount
among which is the issue of global migration. Probable solutions are proffered
and predictions are made about what the future holds for LPP.
In Chapter 2, entitled ‘Business Communication’, Vijay Bhatia and Aditi Bhatia
highlight the interdisciplinary nature of business communication. The writers
bring to the forefront the notion that English for business purposes is
synonymous with ‘Business Communication’, which is subsumed under English for
specific purposes. The authors examine three major areas which have been
integrated into Business Communication vis-à-vis English for specific purposes
-- register or genre analysis and professional communication studies -- all of
which are shown to be relevant to the study of Business Communication.
In Chapter 3, ‘Translation and Interpreting’, Mona Baker and Luis Pérez-González
investigate the common interests of translation scholars and applied linguists.
The chapter examines their roles in a globalized world vis-à-vis translation and
interpreting. The authors provide a historical overview of the study of
translation and go on to highlight some relevant research issues in translation
and interpreting through some reviews of contemporary literature in the field.
Drawing from activities in different contexts, the writers examine the tension
between translators and interpreters, and conclude by projecting the impact
which the interface between globalization and translation will have on language
In Chapter 4, Thierry Fontenelle, focuses on ‘Lexicography’, an area that deals
with the compilation of dictionaries and the description of the lexicon of
languages. A historical overview on the subject identifies two types of
lexicography vis-à-vis monolingual and bilingual lexicography. Also, three
models of definitions are explored. The impact of the “corpus revolution” is
highlighted; this concept gives insight on how lexicographers can compile
dictionary entries based on evidence from linguistic corpora.
In Chapter 5, ‘The Media’, Anne O’Keeffe highlights dominant research methods in
the study of spoken language. Conversation analysis is proffered as the most
dependable in the study of media language. The role of corpus linguistics is
also highlighted as a strategy of data collection. The chapter concludes with an
exploration of the pros and cons in the practice of doing either written or
spoken media discourse studies.
In Chapter 6, ‘Institutional Discourse’, Celia Roberts discusses the notion of
institutional discourse in terms of its origin, theories used in analyzing this
notion, as well as the major themes contained within it. Institutional
discourse, as presented here, enacts the issue of power and ideology in work
practices in a globalized society.
In Chapter 7, ‘Medical Communication’, Sarah Collins, Sarah Peters and Ian Watt
focus on the doctor-patient relationship and its role in providing appropriate
therapy, while paying special attention to research methods, which leads to a
review of current issues in the field, such as cultural and linguistic
diversity. Also, a section on medical education is included, and finally, the
chapter ends with a projection into the future of medical communication.
In Chapter 8, ‘Clinical Linguistics’, Michael Perkins and Sara Howard explore a
wide range of methodological approaches in clinical linguistics that are useful
in the analysis, diagnosis, assessment and treatment of the linguistic and
phonetic characteristics of communication disorders. Two factors are identified
as being responsible for communication disorders: the underlying language
deficit within the individual (i.e. underlying cause); and societal /behavioral
effects on the individual. Also, different research methods in clinical
linguistics are examined.
In Chapter 9, ‘Language and Aging’, Kees de Bot and Nienke van der Hoeven focus
on the psycholinguistic approach to aging and cognitive processing through
social/sociolinguistic input, with an emphasis on bilingualism. A brief history
of language and aging is undertaken, leading to a discussion of some current
issues in the field. Also, a projection into the future of the field is
undertaken, resulting in the emergence of new debates.
Chapter 10 is where Frances Rock, in ‘Forensic Linguistics’, focuses on the
relevance of language to the legal system, the way scholars perceive the term
‘forensic linguistics’, and the methodologies used by researchers in making
cogent contributions to the legal system.
In Chapter 11, ‘Key Concepts in Language Learning and Language Education’, Diane
Larsen-Freeman uses a question-posing approach to trace major developments and
identify key concepts in the field of language learning and language education.
She also delves into various theories of language and their effects on language
learning and education. Some non-linguistic factors such as globalization,
computer literacy and technology, which affect language, are also examined.
In Chapter 12, Lourdes Ortega, in ‘Second Language Acquisition’, investigates
the development of acquiring an additional language at different stages in the
life of an individual. This is done using different studies useful in the
teaching and learning of a foreign language, as well as factors that are
important in acquiring a second language. Also, themes such as age,
crosslinguistic influences, environment and cognition are considered as being
challenging to SLA researchers. The chapter concludes by projecting the future
of research in SLA.
In Chapter 13, ‘Language Teaching Methodology’, Scott Thornbury sets out to
evaluate the benefits of the shift from a preoccupation with method to
methodology with regard to language teaching. The author also brings to the
forefront the stages of study and development from the concept of ‘method’ to
the emerging new trend of ‘methodology’.
In Chapter 14, Richard Kern, in ‘Technology and Language Learning’ explores the
impact of technology, especially computer technology, on language learning by
identifying some metaphors associated with technology and language learning.
Instructional methodologies used via computer technology and categories of
instructional/non-instructional application of language learning are also examined.
In Chapter 15, ‘Language Teacher Education’, Simon Borg, focuses on the study
and development of language teacher education (LTE). A critical, historical, and
current overview of the field is conducted via noting the global and varied
scope of LTE. The chapter concludes by highlighting the limitations of existing
research in the field.
In Chapter 16, ‘Bilingual Education’, Ingrid Gogolin presents critical research
on the concept of bilingualism and education. A historical review, which
highlights different views of bilingualism and bilingual education, is carried
out. Also included are some educational models, with their objectives and goals
highlighted. The writer ends by critically reviewing other research in the field.
Chapter 17, ‘English for Academic Purposes’, is where Nigel Harwood and Bojana
Petrić concerned themselves with a discussion of the needs and responsibilities
of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) practitioners. The chapter systematically
traces the historical development of EAP and also examines the sub-types of EAP,
using a critical perspective in drawing distinctions between these types. Future
directions for EAP research are also examined, bringing to forefront the
interdisciplinary nature of the field.
Chapter 18, ‘Language Testing’, by Barry O’Sullivan, takes a look at language
testing and its place in recent times, while highlighting current issues
inherent in the field such as validation, assessment practice, localization and
professionalization. O’Sullivan also highlights the relevance of social setting
to language testing and the relationship between technology and language
testing. Emerging debates in the field are also explored.
In Chapter 19, ‘Classroom Discourse’, Amy B. M. Tsui is concerned with both
linguistic and non-linguistic elements of discourse that occur in the classroom.
A historical overview highlights the motivation for this field of study as well
as different theories that have emanated from it. Different approaches to the
analysis of classroom discourse are examined and concluding remarks address the
challenges faced by this field of research.
In Chapter 20, ‘Language Socialization’, Agnes Weiyun He highlights the formal
and functional aspects of language socialization for the acquisition and
teaching of a language vis-à-vis the grammatical and communicative competence of
the language user. The chapter also discusses growth in areas where language and
culture intersect, considering language acquisition as a social, cultural and
interactional process. The author identifies two major challenges faced by the
field: the language learning trajectory is not always straightforward and
predictable; and the language socialization process is reciprocal. The author
suggests probable solutions to these.
Chapter 21’s author, Claire Kramsch, in ‘Language and Culture’, adopts a
historical perspective by tracing the history of the relationship between
language and culture as a discipline in applied linguistics. The fear that
culture might slowly lose its power to explain human behavior in a
multilingual/multicultural society is also raised. The chapter concludes by
examining future trends in the intertwined relationship between language and
culture, both in research and in practice.
The key notions of Chapter 22, ‘Identity’, by Bonny Norton, revolve around
identity in relation to language education. The writer traces the history of
research on identity and language from the 1970s to the present and mentions
some of the main theoretical influences on the research of identity, noting the
shift from a psycholinguistic perspective to the sociolinguistic mode of second
language acquisition. Furthermore, the writer examines issues concerning
language education in a broad sense, as well as how it specifically ties to
In Chapter 23, entitled ‘Gender’, Judith Baxter explores how people’s identities
are constructed in gendered ways within localized communities. The writer
provides a historical overview to explore two areas of research -- ethnographic
studies and theories of ‘a women’s language’ -- that led to the emergence of
gender as a field of study. Current issues in the field, as well as future
trends and new debates, are also discussed.
Chapter 24, ‘Ethnicity’, by Roxy Haris, focuses on the Anglo experience in the
study and development of the concept of ethnicity in applied linguistics. The
chapter links these concepts within the framework of tradition, modernity and
late modernity, and demonstrates their interaction with one another. Experiences
regarding ethnicity in both the UK and USA are also explored.
Chapter 25, ‘Sign Language’, by Bencie Woll and Rachel Sutton-Spence, focuses on
the history and study of sign language as a minority language and its
relationship with the majority languages that surround it. It explores sign
language at all levels of linguistic analysis and also details a case study
across the world that was conducted.
Chapter 26, ‘World Englishes’, by Andy Kirkpatrick and David Deterding, presents
the models that represent the nature of Englishes around the world, along with
various criticisms of these, particularly Kachru’s (1985) Three Circles Model.
Various linguistic features (e.g. avoidance of dental fricatives, simplification
of final consonant clusters, syllable-based rhythm, absence of tense marking,
idiosyncratic distinction between count and uncount nouns, invariant tags, and
topic prominence) are identified, for example, in African and Singaporean
Englishes. The chapter also explicates the following: the stages of growth of
any variety of English in becoming an acceptable standard; the current role of
English as a lingua franca (EFL) throughout the world; the validity of EFL as an
area of linguistic study; EFL’s relationship with other World Englishes; and
lastly, the influence of new technology on the development of English varieties
around the world. The crux of the article is that the use and recognition of
current/universal linguistic features has subtly submerged the notion of errors
or mistakes in contemporary English usage. This simply signals a deliberate
denigration of Standard English as the norm or the inevitable co-existence of
Standard English and New Englishes. This might generate the question of a
standard, or a variety of English to teach in both EFL/ESL classrooms, which
also relates to challenges of international intelligibility and acceptance of
New English varieties or dialects.
Chapter 27, ‘Linguistic Imperialism’, by Suresh Canagarajah and Selim Ben Said,
focuses on an introduction to the studies and debates that surround the study of
a first language, with reference to the English Language. Hegemony, a key
concept in linguistic imperialism, is explored and is followed by a call for
further theoretical perspectives in studying the transnational flow of the
English language. The role of modern technology and globalization in second and
foreign language acquisition are also explored.
Chapter 28, ‘Multilingualism’, by Jason Cenoz and Durk Gorter, discusses
micro-levels of multilingualism. Attention is given to the psychological, social
and educational views of multilingualism based on the social approach. This
exposes discussions on some major areas in multilingualism, such as language
processing, age, language planning and education, etc. Also, new trends in the
area of language acquisition are examined.
Chapter 29, ‘Language and Migration’, by Mike Baynham, seeks to employ applied
linguistic research to investigate the continuing transnational and
translocational mobility and exchange of people, information and products across
physical and virtual boundaries, which brings to the forefront the need for
local and global/international languages. Baynham also seeks to understand how
language practices in different domains are shaped by different factors, as well
as the consequences for migrants. Future trends in the field are also examined.
Chapter 30, ‘Discourse Analysis’, by Guy Cook, seeks to highlight the
multidisciplinary nature of discourse analysis (DA) and the different approaches
involved. The issues of how to distinguish DA from other approaches to language
and the varieties of DA are also addressed.
Chapter 31, ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, by Kieran O’ Halloran, gives an
explanation and demonstration of basic concepts and methods in critical
discourse analysis (CDA).
Chapter 32, ‘Neurolinguistics’, by Elizabeth Ahlsén, focuses on how brain damage
affects the use of language at different linguistic levels. The study is based
on some classical frameworks, on which modern frameworks are built. A historical
overview of the field of neurolinguistics is also included.
In Chapter 33, ‘Psycholinguistics’, by John Field, the central concern is the
cognitive processes that underlie the storage, use and acquisition of language
and how they relate to observable neural activity in the brain. Several research
questions in the field are treated. Field also examines language acquisition
from two perspectives while focusing on new debates in the field.
Chapter 34, ‘Sociocultural and Cultural Historical Theories of Language
Development’, by Steven L. Thorn and Thomas Tasker, focuses on the theories of
human development that are grounded in the writings of L. S. Vygotsky. The
writer examines sociocultural and cultural theories as well as the ‘zone of
proximal development’ in understanding students’ developing capacities that are
still embryonic via dynamic assessment. Also, the concepts of ‘internalization’
and ‘regulation’ are explored
Chapter 35, ‘Sociolinguistics’, by Carmen Liamas, is on variationist
sociolinguistics. A review of Labovian research is carried out, bringing out
various approaches and methods of use. Also, the issues of language change,
variation and social meaning are discussed, as well as the impact of technology
in the field, which leads to the emergence of new methods and debates.
Chapter 36, ‘Linguistic Ethnography’, by Janet Maybin and Karin Tusting, focuses
on the interdisciplinary nature of linguistic ethnography and linguistic
anthropology. This is linked to their application in social settings, looking at
scholars’ orientation and interest towards using ethnographic approaches in
addressing linguistic and social questions. New fields in the area, as a result
of modern technologies, along with new debates in the field, are also discussed
Chapter 37, ‘Literacy’, by Doris S. Warriner, reviews what literacy is and how
it links to applied linguistics. Warriner argues against the old definition of
literacy and explores the new trends in literacy as products of modern
technology. She concludes by projecting new areas of study in the field.
In Chapter 38, ‘Stylistics’, Elena Semino explores the notion of stylistics and
style, and in trying to define them, the author explores two key issues
vis-à-vis ‘dualism’ and ‘monism’. Also, a historical survey of stylistics is
carried out, distinguishing two types of stylistic studies vis-à-vis general and
literary stylistics. Two main approaches to stylistics, as well as future
challenges in the field, are also explored.
Chapter 39, ‘Grammar’ by Michael Swan, focuses on the relevance of grammar to
applied linguistics. It discusses several models used in the analysis of
languages. The writer also explores the concept of grammar as a window to the
world, bringing out its inter-relatedness to the activities of human beings.
Chapter 40, ‘Lexis’ by Michael Swan, traces the history of lexis and the role
that words and lexicalized phrases play in linguistic knowledge and processing.
The basic features and terms associated with lexis are highlighted. Also, the
article looks at the process of retrieving words from the lexicon, along with
factors that affect the process. Lexical variation, as it pertains to different
regions, is also examined. Swan concludes by exploring the hierarchical model of
lexis as one of the well known, developed mental models of lexicon.
In Chapter 41, ‘Phonetics and Phonology’, Jeo Barcroft, Gretchen Sunderman and
Norbert Schmitt debunk complicatedness associated with phonetics and phonology
and portray speech as a rather complex event. The authors also encourage
cross-fertilization between branches of theoretical and applied research. A
historical review of the field is carried out and some theoretical models are
discussed. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the need to create an
empirically based practical theory that will be appropriate in teaching and
Chapter 42, ‘Corpus Linguistics’ by Svenja Adolphs and Phoebe M. S. Lin, reviews
some major methods and corpora inherent in the field of corpus linguistics. The
authors also explore three major contemporary issues in the field vis-à-vis
phraseology, English language teaching and the web as a corpus. The role of
modern technologies, as well as emerging challenges in the field, are also explored.
Chapter 43, ‘Cognitive Linguistics’ by Hans-Jörg Schmid and Fredrich Ungerer,
focuses on the contributions, implications and relevance of cognitive
linguistics to language teaching. The authors do this based on experiential
perspectives, while also introducing the concepts of ‘categorization’ and
‘prototype’, as well as the issue of ‘frames’ (i.e. mental referents).
Chapter 44, ‘Systemic Functional Linguistics’ by Lynne Young, centers on the
origin and functions of this model. The chapter also examines the model’s
relevance to applied linguistics. Young extensively discusses the meta-functions
of language inherent in systemic functional linguistics and examines the
differences between generative grammar and systemic functional linguistics.
Chapter 45, ‘Generative Grammar’, by Shigenori Waka Bayashi, clarifies the goals
and scope of generative grammar and describes its relationship with applied
linguistics. This is done by discussing the basic assumptions and developments
in this grammar model, while providing reliable tools to exploring how the
learner’s mind works in language acquisition. The chapter concludes by raising
new questions that the field must explore.
Chapter 46, ‘The Emergence of Language as a Complex Adaptive System’, by Nick C.
Ellis, focuses on the exploration approach to explain language emergence. The
author proposes the complex adaptive system (CAS) as the most suitable in
explaining the emergence of patterns in a language. Ellis goes on to highlight
the characteristics of CAS and its use in understanding the full range of
techniques involved in cognitive, social and natural sciences.
Chapter 47, ‘Multimodality’, by Theo Van Leeuwen, presents a new dimension to
linguistic analysis or language study -- multimodality. Multimodality is
extremely different from monomodal views of language. It is an integration of
different communicative resources, such as image, language, sound and music, and
communicative events. Van Leeuwen states that linguists and discourse analysts
have realized that both spoken and written language cannot be thoroughly studied
in isolation, that is, without recourse to images, typography, layout and color.
He traces the evolution of multimodality and schools of linguistics that have
engaged with communicative modes other than language: the Prague School, the
Paris School, American linguists, and a fourth school that emerged in the 1990s.
The two major concerns of multimodal analysis are investigating the similarities
and differences between different semiotic modes, and the process of integrating
semiotic modes into multimodal texts and communicative events.
“The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics” would be a very useful textbook
for an advanced, undergraduate or postgraduate course in the field of applied
linguistics. English language teachers and curriculum and language planners
would have a lot to draw upon from this book. Overall, it is very easy to
comprehend; the ideas are logically arranged, especially with the inclusion of a
historical overview of each topic, with clearly marked sub-sections, eye-opening
current and future trends in each topic, and a critical bibliography of selected
references at the end of each chapter. These resources give researching students
a concise directory of materials.
Another strength of this book is the use of authentic quantitative and
qualitative corpus-based data in illustrating concepts, which are integrated
with theoretically based arguments. This is indeed commendable. All the articles
present applied linguistics as a very vibrant and attractive field which
encapsulates almost every activity of humankind.
The authors in each chapter are able to streamline the challenges in each
field, even though all solutions to challenges are not necessarily addressed.
For instance, in Chapter 1, Wee does not suggest a probable solution to the
issue of global migration (pp. 18-19). In addressing the language situation in
Nigeria, Babajide in Adeyanju (2007: 39) sums up LPP challenges by stating that
the concern should be how to rescue the indigenous languages, including the
so-called major languages, from extinction. Thus, the issue of global migration
and the related issue of ensuring the well-being and dignity of individuals as
they move across the globe in search of a better life ought to be well addressed.
Thus, it is the opinion of this reviewer that immigrants should, as a point of
responsibility for stability and effective functioning in their new environment,
learn at least one of the major languages of whichever country in which they
wish to settle. The ability to interact in such a language should be one of the
bases for granting visas. A relevant example is what is obtainable in Germany,
where an immigrant is, as a matter of necessity, mandated to attend a four-month
language course in Dutch in order for that person to function effectively in
society without fear of suspicion.
In agreement with the writers, business communication is a discipline that is
under-researched and scholars are urged to embark on more studies in this area,
particularly in exploring the relationship between discursive activities and
professional practices in institutional contexts. Conversely, in exploring the
inter-relatedness of business communication and English for business purposes in
Chapter 2, this reviewer suggests that the two concepts be merged or used
interchangeably since they both study the use of language in business
transactions and relationships (p. 35). Business communication should not only
focus on communication in an organized setting, that is, in the workplace, but
should also entail how relationships are achieved in business, which would
In addition, in Chapter 3, on medical communication, little attention is given
to the importance of the role of the patient in medical discourse. It is thus
suggested that closer attention be given to the aforementioned participant, as
it can serve as a diagnostic resource for psychiatry.
Furthermore, Kramsch, in ‘Language and Culture’, did not provide an introduction
to the topic. Since introductions lend a sense of direction to a study, it
should always be a mandatory feature in works of this nature.
Looking at the chapter on sign language (pp. 359-372), by Woll et al, it is
stated that like other natural languages, sign language can be studied at all
levels of linguistics analysis vis-à-vis phonology, morphology, syntax,
pragmatics and discourse. However, there should be another level of analysis
that accounts for the use of gestures in sign language. Also, the diagram on
page 617, under the topic ‘cognitive linguistics’, would have been more
illustrative with the use of errors, just as is found on page 641 under
In ‘Institutional Discourse’, by Celia Roberts, metaphors could also be used in
analyses, as they are not just figures of speech, but also part of the cognitive
ability of humans (Lakoff et al 1985). For instance, in the use of the image
schema “ideas are resources”, we could have sentences such as “He ran out of
ideas”, “Don’t waste your thoughts on small projects”, “He is a resourceful
man’, “That idea will go a long way”, and so on. Looking at the series of
sentences above, one can see that these sentences could be instances of
institutional discourse, especially during board meetings.
‘Sociolinguistics’ (Chapter 35, pp. 501-515) makes for very interesting reading.
However, even though sociolinguistic variation as a topic is inexhaustive,
reference should have been made to language loss as a possible offshoot of
Furthermore, in discussing multilingualism (pp. 401-412) and bilingual education
(pp. 229-242), attention should be paid to Africa, especially to Anglophone West
Africa. This is because, according to “Ethnologue” (Gordon 2005), almost half of
the world’s languages are found in this region, making it one of the most
linguistically diversified in the world. Throughout the handbook, very little
research is drawn from this region. Future similar works would benefit from its
inclusion because studies of this region would unfold a lot of linguistic
peculiarities yet to be explored.
Multimodality (Chapter 47, pp. 668-680) explores insightful ideas. Although the
article presents a fresh insight into linguistic analysis with thorough
attention to other modes of communication, the adaptation of various linguistic
terms (e.g. Given, New, conjunction, etc.) to explain the position and
interaction between word and image in a multimodal text seems
inadequate/limited, as only English linguistic terms are deployed. It might be
necessary to investigate other cultures with different language structures,
grammars and terms to justify validity and universality of these terms.
Overall, this handbook makes an interesting and expository read. It is
excellently constructed, except for some typographical errors that were
encountered. In all, the articles are timely and relevant to language scholars
in the 21st century and beyond, especially with the inclusion of the role of
modern technologies in all the issues discussed.
Adeyanju, O. (2007). Sociolinguistics in the Nigerian context. Ile-Ife: Obafemi
Awolowo University Press.
Gordon, R. J. (2005). Linguistic diversity in Africa and Europe, Languages of
the World. Retrieved Wednesday, June15, 2011.
http://journals. Cambridge.org retrieved 1-9-2011.
http:// languagecontact.humanities Manchester.ac.ukretrieved 1-9.
Kachru, B. B. (1985). “Standards, codification and socioilinguistic realism: the
English Language in the Outer Circle”. R. Quirk & H. G. Widdowson (eds.).
English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures, pp.
11-30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1986). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, Illinois:
Richards, J. & Rodger, T. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching to
Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
| ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Taiwo O. Abioye holds a PhD degree in English Language from Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria, Nigeria. The areas of her research interests and
publications include stylistics, media language, literacy, pragmatics and
applied linguistics. She is currently head of the Department of Languages,
Covenant University, Ota-Nigeria, where she also teaches.