LINGUIST List 23.3898

Wed Sep 19 2012

Review: Applied Linguistics: Candlin, C. and S. Srikant (eds., 2011)

Editor for this issue: Anja Wanner <>

Date: 19-Sep-2012
From: Pankaj Dwivedi <>
Subject: Handbook of Communication in Organisations and Professions
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EDITOR: Candlin, Christopher N.; Sarangi, SrikantTITLE: Handbook of Communication in Organisations and ProfessionsSERIES TITLE: Handbooks of Applied Linguistics (HAL -3) / CommunicationCompetence. Language and Communication Problems. Practical Solutions 3PUBLISHER: De Gruyter MoutonYEAR: 2011

Pankaj Dwivedi, Department of Humanities and Social sciences, IIT Ropar (India)


In the introduction, the series editors Karlfried Knapp and Gerd Antos explainthe main purpose (''linguistics for problem solving'') of the current volume inparticular and the series in general. The chapter briefly explores the relation,scope, and future prospects of applied and theoretical linguistics. Theintroduction ends with citing the main objectives and the criteria used for theselection of the topics. Each chapter of the volume begins with an abstract andall chapters include data and corpus extracts along with their transcriptions.

The volume is divided into four parts. The first part is the editorialintroduction by Srikant Sarangi and Christopher N. Candlin. It offers a broadoverview of professional and institutional discourse and other related themes.

The second part (chapters 1 to 3) focuses on the professional discourse of threedomains: healthcare, law, and organizational studies.

''Evidence and inference in macro-level and micro-level healthcare studies,'' byAaron V. Cicourel, compares the micro- and macro- perspectives on clinicalhealthcare delivery and discusses their pros and cons, scope, and relevance inthe clinical decision-making process. The chapter explains how a micro-levelanalysis of the interactive engagements can help macro-oriented, policy-relatedresearch and explores the possibilities of collaborative research amonghealthcare professionals, policy makers, and applied linguists.

''Applied linguistics in the legal arena'' by Roger W. Shuy is concerned with thecontributions that applied linguistics can make to the legal process. Itdiscusses the activities, scope, challenges, and future prospects of forensicslinguistics.

James R. Taylor in ''Communication is not neutral: 'Worldview' and the science oforganizational communication'' gives a historical and conceptual account of theorganizational discourses and interactional relationships of individuals in anorganizational set-up. The author examines the role of language in building upbilateral and multilateral relations across various hierarchical levels in anorganizational set-up. The chapter concludes with the idea of using thecommunicative transaction as the constitutive basis of organizations.

The contributions in the third and the largest part of the volume (from chapter4 to 18) include detailed accounts of health and social care (4-10), law(11-13), and specific professional and organizational studies of various fields(13-18). The chapters present readers with an opportunity to find thecommunicative/ linguistic /discursive parallels and critical themes acrossdifferent professional and organizational sites.

In ''Alignments and ‘facework’ in paediatric visits: Toward a social choreographyof multiparty talk’,'' the authors, Karin Aronsson and Camilla Rindstedt, concernthemselves with the overt and covert alignments and ‘disalignments’ thatdoctors, patients and third-party members make with one another during treatmentand consultation in paediatric settings. The authors confirm these alignmentswith the help of linguistic structures such as use and shift of address forms,pronoun shift, collaborative 'we'-constructions, and directness vs. indirectness.

''Peering inside the black box: Lay and Professional reasoning surroundingpatient claims of adverse drug effects'' by ,Heidi E. Hamilton and Ashley M.Bartell, also deals with healthcare communication. It shows an in-depth analysisof language as well as of lay & professional reasoning used between patients anddoctors, respectively, pertaining to cases of adverse drug reactions.

''Institutional bodies and social selves: The discourse of medical examinationsin hospital settings,'' by Per Måseide, raises issues of the institutional,moral, professional and social dilemmas of the medical staff arising due to apatient’s dual identity as an object of their work as well as a social being.It focuses on communicative strategies employed by the staff in working outthese dilemmas.

''Uncomfortable moments in speech-language therapy discourse,'' by Dana Kovarskyand Irene Walsh, looks into interactional asymmetries found in the traditionalimpairment-based therapy, which cause the occurrence of uncomfortable momentssuch as threats to the professional face, positive rapport, or the social imageof a speech-language pathologist during therapy sessions with patients.Reflecting on the possible drawbacks of the traditional model, the authorsrecommend an alternative communicative practice.

In ''Speaking for another: Ethics-in-interaction in medical encounters,'' EllenBarton studies tensions between medical and ethical bases of the decision-makingprocess. It is found that doctors employ various communicative strategies (fromspeaking for patients, self, profession, to third party members) and ethicalends to help clients make an important medical decision. The author presents herreview research on two specific communicative events: end-of-life discussionsand offers to participate in medical trials of cancer medicine.

Jointly authored by Srikant Sarangi, Lucy Brookes-Howell, Kristina Bennert andAngus Clarke, ''Psychological and sociological frames in genetic counseling forpredictive testing'' discusses the interactional process used to deal withpsychosocial concerns of clients in genetic counseling sessions within apsychological and a ‘sociomoral’ frame, and up to what extent shifts betweenthese two frames can display clients' coping strategies. The chapter exploreshow counselors’ consideration for personal feelings, inter-personal relations,attached obligations and responsibilities of the clients during counseling canhelp the clients make their decisions.

''Theoretical vocabularies and moral negotiation in child welfare: The saga ofthe Evie and Seb,'' by Susan White and David Wastell, studies the social,interactional, and rhetorical processes involved in professional sense-making insituations which are morally contentious or ambiguous. It is shown that moraljudgments are primarily accomplished through mutual institutional discussions.The authors considerably draw on folk and vernacular moral logic, moralattributions of blame- and credit-worthiness, etc., which intersect with thetheoretical vocabularies in complex ways.

''Interrogation and evidence: Questioning sequences in courtroom discourse andpolice interviews,'' by Sandra Harris, focuses on questioning strategies adoptedby lawyers and police while interrogating defendants and suspects, respectively.The author also briefly discusses problems and issues that arise within legalsettings due to asymmetric distributions of power and knowledge, conflictingjudicial goals, and the typical legal criteria of eliciting information in theinterrogation process.

''Judging by what you’re saying: Judges’ questioning of lawyers as interactiveinterpretation,'' by Pamela Hobbs, continues the topic of legal discourse. Thechapter shows how judges pose questions to the lawyers to demonstrate theirpragmatic and subjective knowledge, to resolve the possible conflict of opinionsand interpretations, and to check lawyers’ confidence in their own argumentsfrom the legal standpoint during courtroom discussions.

Giuliana Garzone in ''Professional discourses in contact: Interpreters in thelegal and medical settings'' attends to dialogue interpreting in the professionsof healthcare and law. The chapter postulates that given the constant variationin the position and the role of the interpreters along with differinginstitutional idiosyncrasies, the process of interpretation can be affected andmay result in loss of message and miscommunication. The chapter also shows howsyntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and terminological differences may occur due todifferent interpreting techniques, professional competence, and institutionalsettings.

The chapter ''Enabling bids: Occupational practice and ‘multi-modal’ interactionin auctions of fine art and antiques'' by Christian Heath and Paul Luff dealswith the use and importance of processes of social interaction, organizedturn-takings, and non-verbal and paralinguistic cues to escalate the prices ofgoods on sale and to create competition among bidders for higher bidding inauctions.

''Argumentation across web-based organizational discourses: The case of climatechange,'' by Graham Smart, studies how argumentation across networks of textsproduced by various professional organizations as they engage in debating issueof climate-change leads to two opposing different discourse coalitions and howrepresentations of science are used for rhetorical effect within thisargumentation. The author proposes a methodological model, which he claims canbe used to empirically explore the collective formation of argumentation withinand across organizations engaged in any public debate on controversial socialissues.

''E-messaging in the corporate sector: Tensions between technological affordancesand rapport management,'' by Maria do Carmo Leite de Oliveira, explores howe-mail messaging, primarily intended to ease the process of internalcommunication at a workplace, may threaten mutual trust and weaken proximityamong employees. Consequently, an inappropriate balance between organizationalpractices and professional, personal, and social goals at a workplace may result.

''Gatekeeping discourse in employment interviews,'' by Celia Roberts, studies howthe competency-based selection procedure, in employment interviews, which isprimarily designed to provide for the objective assessment and equal opportunityto the candidates, can actually disadvantage them and construct various types oflinguistic, cultural, and psychological impediment. The importance ofcandidate’s alignment with their interviewers’ communicative background andpreferences is also shown.

''The gatekeeping encounter as a social form and as a site for facework,'' byFrederick Erickson, continues with the role of gatekeeping in discourseanalysis. The chapter focuses on discourse strategies (indirectness,persuasiveness, tactfulness, positive self-presentation etc.) employed bygatekeepers and the ‘gatekept’ to maintain each other’s face while securing thebest interests of the institution as well as their own. It is discussed howco-membership between a gatekeeper and a ‘gatekept’ facilitates the discourseprocess and helps in the face-threatening instances.

The fourth and last part of the volume (from chapter 19 to 26) presentscontributions that applied linguistics (especially discourse analysis) has madeto various professional fields. Contributions come from both applied linguistsand professional practitioners. ''Appreciating the power of the narratives inhealthcare: A tool for understanding organizational complexity and values,''authored by Amanda Taylor, Orit Karnieli-Miller, Thomas Inui, Steven Ivy, andRichard Frankel, examines how narratives/storytelling can be used as aneffective tool to understand how core values of the employees operate, i.e.,align, misalign, or conflict with, organizational values in professionalset-ups, especially when employees face some challenging situations which mightrequire them to perform beyond their organizational role.

''Family support and home visiting: Understanding communication, 'good practice'and interactional skills,'' by Stef Slembrouck and Christopher Hall, looks at thecommunication between professionals and clients in home visits by health andsocial-care professionals. The chapter includes a literature review onprofessional communication practices explaining why a particular communicativepractice may be considered good or bad. It also analyzes the professional clientcommunication within a discourse analytic framework and elucidates how theprofessional and the discourse analytic approach can draw insights from eachother. It also includes a study in which professionals attempt to examine theirown communicative skills in the client interaction process.

''Crossing the boundary between finance and law: The collaborative'problematisation’ of professional learning in a postgraduate classroom,'' byAlan Jones and Sheelagh McCracken, describes the role played by an appliedlinguist in facilitating the process of inter-professional learning:inter-professional meaning making of the technical vocabulary and otherlinguistic structures. The chapter describes how an academic lawyer and anapplied linguist collaboratively identified a problem and developed teaching andlearning materials for postgraduate level finance professionals to understandthe linguistic and discursive aspects of the discourse of a finance law course.

''Analytic Challenges in studying professional learning,'' by David Middleton,shows the use of communicative analysis to assess multi-agency, work-basedprofessional learning and use of an analytic protocol for cross-site analysis ofthe communicative action. The author describes how communicative action can tella lot about professionals’ understanding of their work practices, theirperspectives, knowledge states, distinctions concerning the practice, etc.

''Applying linguistic research to real world problems: The social meaning of talkin work place interaction,'' by Janet Holmes, Angela Joe, Meredith Marra,Jonathan Newton, Nicky Riddiford and Bernadette Vine, gives important insightsto those working in the fields such as applied sociolinguistics orsociopragmatics. The chapter explores how linguists can effectively involvelay-people not only in the process of learning but also in developing the coursematerials and in identifying the research areas of mutual concern. The chaptershows how collaboration with the workplaces and use of authentic data in coursematerials can improve the teaching and learning process.

''Changes in professional identity: Nursing roles and practices,'' by SallyCandlin, describes how shifting of roles and identities that nurses take upon aspart of their professional requirements poses considerable complexity for theprocess discourse analysis. The chapter also delineates how such roles areconstituted through performance of particular discourses. For a discourseanalyst to understand these all different roles and identities, he/she mustunderstand the institutional or professional settings/contexts where these rolesare set.

''Crossing the practitioner –researcher boundary: Working with another disciplineto examine one’s practice,'' by Angus Clarke, explains the benefits and thedisadvantages that are incurred when an applied linguist and a professionalcollaborate (especially in long-term collaborations). The author makes it clearthat successful collaboration requires substantial investment of effort onvarious levels by both parties, otherwise things may go awry.

''The linguist in the witness box,'' by Malcolm Coulthard, mainly looks at theproblems that linguists face as expert witnesses and at how jury and lawyersalign or misalign themselves when presented with some opinion based onlinguistic evidence. The chapter compares the two most common approaches thatare used in interpreting linguistic evidence: semantic vs. statisticalapproaches to linguistic data.


The volume succeeds in demonstrating how applied linguistics can significantlycontribute to dealing with the real world organizational issues. Part one (theeditorial section) in particular succeeds in explaining the purpose and thescope of the volume. However, I think its scope is narrower than the use of theterm ''communication'' in the title indicates. The term ''communication'' comprisesfour dimensions: speaking, listening, reading, and writing, whereas most of thechapters of the volume take only spoken discourse into account. Writing makes anessential part of the organizational communication process and therefore shouldnot be ignored (Gerson & Gerson, 2009).

As most of the studies in the volume use the discourse analytic approach, anintroductory chapter on the topic might have been helpful for those who arenot from the field. About ten chapters examine their topics from the perspectiveof a profession rather than from the perspective of communication, which maysometimes be less accessible to readers purely from a linguistics orcommunication studies background. The volume has given more weight than requiredto the chapters focusing on communication in health, social- care, and legalsettings. Other fields, such as tourism, engineering, the hospitality industrycould easily have been included. I think that The Sage Handbook ofOrganizational Discourse (2004) makes a more balanced contribution in thisregard. Another problem might be that in certain cases (chapters 10 and 16), thedata that are discussed were collected a long time ago, which puts a question onthe relevance of the findings for more contemporary settings of the organizations.

Overall, however, the volume provides scholars working in the fields of appliedand theoretical linguistics, language and communication studies, technical andprofessional discourse, and those interested in the sociological aspects oflanguage use with rich insights into organizational processes in which languagehas a role to play.


Gerson, S.J. and S.M. Gerson (2009): Technical Writing: Process and Product, 3rdEd. New Delhi: Pearson.Grant, D, C. Hardy, C. Oswick, and L. Putnam (2004): The Sage Handbook ofOrganizational Discourse. London: Sage Publications.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Pankaj Dwivedi is a PhD scholar in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Ropar (India). His research interests lie in the areas of technical communication and phonology.

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