LINGUIST List 28.2869

Fri Jun 30 2017

Review: English; Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Linguistics Theories; Sociolinguistics: Solly, Pulcini, Campagna, Ochse (2016)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <clarelinguistlist.org>


Date: 08-Jan-2017
From: Laura Dubcovsky <lauradubcovskygmail.com>
Subject: Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/27/27-2544.html

EDITOR: Sandra Campagna
EDITOR: Elana Ochse
EDITOR: Virginia Pulcini
EDITOR: Martin Solly
TITLE: Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities
SUBTITLE: Studies in Honour of Giuseppina Cortese
SERIES TITLE: Linguistic Insights - Band 218
PUBLISHER: Peter Lang AG
YEAR: 2016

REVIEWER: Laura Dubcovsky, University of California, Davis

Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry

SUMMARY

“Languaging in and across communities: New Voices, new identities,” edited by Campagna,, Ochse, Pulcini and Solly is a collection of twenty chapters about languaging, organized according to three main trends. Section 1: “Languaging awareness,” relates a broad definition of languaging (Swain 2006) to reflections about language, some of its components, and applications in second language programs and within modern multimedia. The first chapter explores, “Native/Non-native cooperation in English as a Lingua Franca'' (ELF). Gotti describes accommodation and regulations as effective strategies that enable interlocutors to clarify meaning, negotiate topics, rephrase, and self-correct, through the languaging processes. Above all, the strategies reveal the high degree of collaboration and commitment between native and non-native students, who are more interested in reaching intelligible communication than in linguistic correctness in the classroom.

Facchinetti describes a course about news and journalism in her chapter “Media studies
and media discourse(s) in English: One term, many identities.” First she traces a historical
continuum, from mono-modality to multi-modality, and from print to online media in English.
Then she refines the general label of “media discourse” into specific languaging distinctions.
While “language in the media” refers to specific text types (news reports, commentaries, political
debates, etc.), “language of the media” relates to diachronic and synchronic changes, such as the evolution of modality and reported speech in newspapers along the years, and different
actualizations of the same headlines in diverse social media genres. Finally “media
jargon” aims specialized practitioners of journalism and contains lexical terms and phrases that typify specific speech communities. The author concludes that beyond multiple layers and
complexities, the ultimate purpose of current media still lies in effective languaging.

Pavesi continues examining the relationship between languaging and multimedia in her
chapter, “From the screen to the learner-viewer: Exploring audiovisual contexts of second
language acquisition.” She appreciates advantages of the new milieu, such as holistic input,
accelerating development of listening comprehension, extended vocabulary, and pragmatic
awareness of verbal variations and nonverbal communicative cues. The author also points out
disadvantages, since audiovisuals are constrained by one-way directionality and have limited
possibilities of providing negative evidence and explicit feedback. In spite of the overall benefits
of learning through films and TV, Pavesi claims that explicit teaching, modeling and practice
opportunities provided in the classroom, are still necessary, especially to develop second
language writing skills, and academic features of abstraction, compactness, and structural
organization.

The chapter “The treatment of lexical collocations in English collocations dictionaries
and learners’ dictionaries: A languaging perspective,” traces the use and frequency of these
expressions in different sources. Nuccorini explains that studying collocations is
driven by the languaging potential of shaping knowledge and experiences. She categorizes the
lexical terms in two oppositional sets: transparent/non transparent, and restricted/ non- restricted. The author finds out that although collocations receive different treatment, according to the specific dictionary’s focus, they all share common definitions, situated in context, and
accompanied by robust explanations and examples of varied uses. Nuccorini observes major
difficulties in teaching collocations, since they contain linguistic associations that are not
governed by clear rules or are not always easy to articulate. However she acknowledges that students will benefit from learning these lexical items, which will enable them to raise
languaging awareness.

Bowles situates his chapter at a tourist office in the Italian region of Chianti. “Learning
through languaging in ELF Service encounters” shows vivid interactions between a desk
operator and some customers, pointing out the mediational role of languaging. The author
unfolds skills of assimilation and accommodation throughout the exchange, highlighting constant conceptual and linguistic adjustments. The interlocutors needed either to incorporate new concepts into pre-existing knowledge structures (assimilation), or adapt personal styles to the new situation (accommodation). Above all participants had to overcome linguistic and cultural misunderstandings and learn to negotiate meanings between conceptual and cultural
representations. Bowles concludes that in order to gain a better ELF (English as a Lingua
Franca) preparation, future teachers should reflect not only about language but also raise their
cultural awareness and become more sensitive to the languaging of assimilation and
accommodation.

The last chapter of the section is titled, “English as a medium of instruction. A
‘resentment study’ of a micro EMI context.” Campagna examines languaging in the light of
Italian programs that choose English as the vehicle to teach the content areas. The author
highlights contradictions within and between national and international policies that impact
Italian Higher Education. She offers a brief overview of European programs that use English as
the Medium of Instruction (EMI), situating them within current global societies that demand new
identities, comprising linguistic and cultural diversity. Campagna analyzes common features of
EMI programs, such as fear of losing the conceptual domain in the native language, few
resources, and low English proficiency level among instructors. Consequently most of these programs use English either in redundant manner - because the same content is taught in the first language- or in limited ways, teaching only a few disciplines of the curriculum. In closing the author claims that further research should address (second) languaging as a means of instruction, developing appropriate content and vocabulary for the disciplines, as well as positive dispositions, openness and respect for other cultural groups.

Section 2: “Languaging identity” comprises ways in which identity is unfolded through
the languaging of different text types and media. The first chapter is titled, “How do they get
away with it? Identity construction, ‘The imposter’ and the psychology of consumer detriment.”
Riley investigates the fraudulent ethos of tricksters and fraudsters through discursive and cultural features. He analyzes frequent traits of scammers, e.g. generalized greetings, cold readings, avatars and stereotypes, and also personality characteristics of the victims, e.g.gullibility,
extreme trust and vulnerability, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. Riley proves through the impostor’s example that the identity construct needs to meet academic and ethical
standards, moving beyond the domain of commonsense beliefs only. The author proposes instead an inclusive definition situated in the wider context of globalization, in which languaging identity considers aspects of population mobility, language varieties, truncated repertoires, and autobiographical trajectories.

Vasta presents the chapter, “Identities in conflict: Making sense of voices from inside the
war on terror.” The author examines linguistic features that shape the identity of the self, the
otherness, orientalism and legitimization of authority (van Leeuwen 2007) in war times. Among
languaging resources, Vasta explains euphemisms, frequently used to avoid straightforward
denominations (e.g., “pacification centers”, instead of “concentration camps”), and dysphemism that enables speakers and writers to beautify the ugly and uglify the beautiful. She also deconstructs metaphorical constructions, which typically frontload abstract actions, overlooking responsible agents of the war (“an operation killed” ..., instead of individualizing the agents of the killing). Finally she describes metonymic relationships that strengthen the stark opposition of war identities. For example, while American people are recognizable by their heroes, situated in high-context culture, and embedded in positive values of order and organization; enemies are portrayed as shadowy or faceless figures, situated in low-context cultures, and conveying negative values of barbarism, disorder and chaos.

The following chapter, “Vico and Joyce: Landscaping/langscaping,” moves to the literary
field. Marengo examines the strong connection between languaging and identity established
by the two writers, driven by the ‘linguis ingenia, non ingeniis linguas formari’ principle. Both
Vico and Joyce master the languaging process of shaping the material reality through names,
places and time, as well as expressions, feelings and thoughts. Moreover they reach deeper
levels, shaping the unconscious and the unknown through metalinguistic reflections, wondering
not just about something else, but about language itself. Marengo concludes that the fusion of
languaging ‘landscaping/langscaping’ leads to a combination of the structural unity of the artwork and the writers’ internal forces, shaping their literary identity.

Douthwaite continues the artistic trend, opening up to the languaging identity in movies.
The chapter, “Self and society: Art and identity formation in Billy Eliot” examines notions of
‘otherness’ and conflicting forces between social norms, community relations and culture on the
one hand, and idiosyncrasies and individual values and goals on the other. The author selects
verbal and visual features that support issues of homosexuality and social inequalities, such as
the use of language varieties, different communicative competencies and contrastive uses of
pronouns, as shown in the film. Douthwaite concludes that verbal and dance languaging help realize the protagonist’s distinctive self, raise the barrier toward social mobility, and overcome the symbolic opposition between the social establishment and the working class.

Pulcini addresses current denominations of migrant people in the chapter, “Naming ‘the
Other’: Terms for migrants across varieties of English.” In her analysis she considers not only
the frequency, but also the meaning, attitudes and values of these references, as used in English speaking and South Asian countries. She concludes that, beyond socio-cultural and legal conditions, the migrant identity is also influenced by linguistic decisions that highlight the
identity borderline between the access to and exclusion from identity. She shows how some host countries avoid the use of offensive terms, such as “illegal” and replace them by euphemisms (“non-status” and “unauthorized”) and metaphors (“flood or invasion of immigrants”). On the contrary, others countries prefer explicit and overt denominations, such as “illegal maritime arrivals” or “detainees,” instead of “boat arrivals” and “clients,” respectively. Moreover, while some references with negative constituents, may be used instead positively (such as “expatriate” when they define migrants with high qualifications living abroad), expressions that typically arouse positive values and humanitarian sentiments, may be incorporated in a negative sense, under intransigent policies’ conditions (such as “asylum seekers” and “refugees”).

Esch closes the section situating languaging identity within the health context. Her chapter titled, “Women doing things with words to women without words” describes the language interaction between a health professional and her client during a home visit. The author analyzes the encounter as an observer first, and as a participant later, claiming that the linguistic interpretation changes drastically. When the researcher is a mere witness (outside perspective), she observes a simplified register, in which the health professional uses baby and foreigner talk. In contrast, when the researcher adopts an inside perspective, languaging identity becomes a more complex phenomenon, and she considers non-verbal responses, such as client’s silences and communicative strategies. Therefore Esch proposes a situated languaging definition, one that includes dynamic interactions, emotional impact, and ethical issues, to help shape the identities of all the participants.

Section 3: “Languaging Community,” explores different domains that highlight the strong relationship between language and society. Duszak situates her chapter “From academic
community ‘in transition’ to academic community ‘in combat’” in the Polish context. First she
offers a brief retrospective of rhetorical uses and compares them to current interdiscursive and
polyphonic features, both especially preferred with the onset of post-communist transformations. The author shows how languaging helps shape the academic community, through examples from an open letter to the Minister of Science and Higher Education, and current policies that encourage a broad use of English as the Lingua Franca. Embedded in socio-cultural context, members of the Polish community struggle to find their identity between national and international interests, fighting for and over the power of corporate managements to seek a niche in the competitive academic market.

The following chapters address languaging in specific disciplines, such as science,
history and law. Dossena’s chapter, “Discovering the environment. The indebtedness of present-
day ecological culture to late modern English vocabulary,” traces the history of environmental
terms used in current scientific journals. Although the author acknowledges the work of
influential individuals (Muir, Munro, Thoreau), she focuses on words and citations in the English
language that contribute to the development of landscape and environmentalism. She
emphasizes terms of long-lasting impact throughout the centuries, such as “anaesthetics” and
“antibiotics,” as well as local words of global effect, such as “boomerang” and “basmati.” She also follows intriguing transformations of original adjectives and nouns into modern verbs, such as”americanizing” and “machinize,” and innovative and constant incorporation of new meanings, such as “hypermetropia” and “greenhouse effect.” Dossena seeks to demonstrate how the environmental community is being informed by the languaging process of developing, adopting, and transforming colloquial meanings to specific scientific uses.

In the following chapter Bondi explores the languaging process within the history community. Her chapter, “Chrononyms in academic and popular history,” explores the specific lengths of calendar times (20th century) and conventional time partitions (the middle ages) that mark historical periods. Above all chrononyms involve a cultural load that incorporates place, time, personhood and values, with strong evocative power. For example, Gli anni di piombo (“Years of lead”) triggers immediate associations to Italian waves of terrorism around the 70s, while Age des lummiers (“The age of Enlightenment”) evokes the French opposition between the light of reason and the previous dark era. Interestingly, same-date- chrononyms can lead to varied events, such as September 11, which may be remembered as the day of the defeat of Barcelona in 1714 among Catalans, the day of the coup d' état among Chileans in 1973, or the attacks on New York since 2001. Beyond formal differences, Bondi finds that academic sources typically present chrononyms that comprise temporal and casual dimensions, emphasizing the search for interpretation of the events, while popular sources situate chrononyms in a temporal sequence, linking factual events (Martin 2003).

Salvi examines the electronic communication between big electricity suppliers in the UK and their customers in the chapter “Languaging in corporate discourse.” Results show an increasing number of corporate terms (“customers,” “business,” “company,”and “tariff”) and phrases with shared values in economy (“fair competition,” “service quality,” “consumer,” and “environment protection). Languaging in the business community also includes nominal phrases (renewable sources, investing in low carbon power), adjectives (simple and clear) and adverbs (fully and honestly) that encourage the creation of a positive environment. Moreover corporate discourse offers pronominal contrasts (we/you, our/your) that highlight belonging and affective engagement, as well as appealing phrases, such as Generation Green and Smart Meters, building on novelty and change. Salvi concludes that in current competitive markets, successful businessmen know that a mere description of services and products is no longer sufficient. They are aware of the power of languaging, which helps shape the new business community, through the appropriate selection of words and structures and consensual discourses.

In the chapter, “Reconciling tradition and innovation: Languaging in professional communities of practice,” Solly expands the process of languaging to the healthcare and law communities. He describes commonalities between the two disciplines, given by traditional dress code (judges’ robes and nurses’ uniforms), workplaces (law courts and hospitals), and established corpus of knowledge and beliefs; the latter enables rigid ways of engaging their members, while excluding the ‘others.’ As the two communities of practice are transitioning from conservative canons to innovative and technological changes, new languaging strategies are required, such as the use of telemedicine and Internet access. Above all the author emphasizes that a stronger language preparation in the specific discipline, as well as professional English courses, will contribute to shape membership, facilitate access to highly qualified research and expand knowledge in current healthcare and law communities.

The chapter titled “In transit between two wor(l)ds: NATO military discourse at a turning point” examines strategies of ‘covering’ and ‘disinforming’ in eleven military documents during the 1996-2013 period. Conoscenti examines how languaging helps shape the military community, giving three complementary examples. First, languaging helps understand the evolution of the doctrinal discourse, from traditional acceptance of transferring information, to modern practices of double-checking and cross-checking the information, as today it is normal practice to seek more reliable and authentic sources. Second, the languaging analysis also contributes to deconstruct the temporal dimensions used in military narratives and manipulate them to achieve more effective discourses. For example, instead of presenting a linear and unidirectional timeline only, modern military documents appeal to a circular temporality that enables flexible movements either to the past, looking for specific intense emotions, or to the future, conveying growth and evolution. Third, languaging may help overcome traditional oppositions between us and them, teaching how to use a more inclusive and personalized pronoun (us) that wins the approval of public opinion.

The last two chapters move back to the concerns of educational communities. Guido focuses on the specific instruction of modal verbs in English as lingua franca (ELF). The chapter titled, “Modality tagging as evidence of ELF communities’ languaging,” includes semantic and pragmatic interpretations of the English modals and possible transfer between languages. While
English learners at different competency levels are more oriented to the deontic modulation that
focuses on the offer of good and services, native speakers of English prefer the epistemic modalization that emphasizes expression of opinions. Results shows that the transfer of modal
verbs is easier when languages have common values, patterns, and functions, e.g. illocutionary acts of assertiveness and hesitation among Italian and Serbo-Croatan students learning English, or pragmatic traits of politeness among French students who are studying Italian as a second language. Guido concludes that modal languaging, including emotional and intellectual involvement as well as dynamic interactions, helps to build a stronger ELF community.

The book closes with the chapter “Sign language: The state of the art in Italian Universities fourteen years on.” Kellett Bidoli illuminates accomplishments and challenges of sign languaging of the deaf community in Italy. The author acknowledges the development of the language since 2001, with the creation of vocational and professional courses in Italian sign language and interpretation, as well as the approval of national (Italian Law 104 1992) and international resolutions, such as the United Nations Conventions on Human Rights for people with disabilities (1998). However, the state of art of the Italian deaf community is quite unstable, mostly because the Italian Parliament has not recognized officially the status of Italian sign language yet, but also because of budget reductions during the Italian University Reform. Kellett Bidoli explains how languaging processes can help build this community of practice, by discussing major topics that situate Italy in the international scene, such as the influential role of American Sign Language, the tripartite combination of English, spoken Italian and Italian sign language in multimedia, intercultural practices and varied genres.

EVALUATION

The book “Languaging in and across communities: New Voices, new identities”
addresses the languaging process in a broad sense (Swain 2006). It offers refreshing readings,
drawing from a variety of disciplines - from politics to literature, and from pedagogy to
community services–that will attract wide audience. Professional and lay readers will be moved
by appealing examples of recent events, such as well-known scams (the Bernard Madoff Ponzi
scheme), presidential speeches (Bush’s and Obama’s), NATO documents, and migrants’
impact. The book is very well structured, weaving distinctive contents around common concerns of languaging awareness, languaging identity and languaging community in three sections. It also elaborates on current issues such as higher demands of technology, presence of “the other,” and instruction through a Lingua Franca. Above all the longitudinal and transversal
flow of topics supports the editors’ perspective of a new and fluid construct of
Languaging.

The inclusive notion of languaging that empowers the book may also become a
disadvantage, especially when authors overextend the construct to other fields of knowledge,
without further elaboration. A few omit to establish explicit connections between their object of
study and the overarching languaging process, while others are trapped in detailed analysis,
losing track of the agglutinating theme. Above all “Languaging in and across communities: New
Voices, new identities” contributes to the working definition of languaging, situating it in the
complex socio-cultural context of our global society, and searching for practical applications in
specific disciplines, languages, and communities of practices.

REFERENCES

Martin, J. 2003. Making history: Grammar for interpretation. Re/reading the past: Critical and
functional perspectives on time and value. Martin and Wodak (eds.). Amsterdam: John
Benjamins. 19-57.

Swain, M. 2006. Languaging, agency and collaboration in advanced second language
proficiency. Advanced language learning: The contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky. H.
Byrnes. London: Continuum. 95-108.

Van Leeuwen, T. 2007. Legitimation in discourse and communication. Discourse &
Communication 1(1). 91-112.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Laura Dubcovsky was a lecturer and supervisor in the Teacher Education Program from The School of Education at the University of California, Davis. She has a Master’s in Education and a PhD in Spanish linguistics with special emphasis on second language acquisition. Her areas of interest combine the fields of language and bilingual education. She is dedicated to the preparation of prospective bilingual Spanish/English teachers, especially on the use of Spanish for educational purposes. She collaborates as a reviewer with the Linguistic list serve and bilingual associations, as interpreter in parent/teachers conferences and at the school district, and as translator for outreach programs in museums and school sites, building home/school connections. She has taught a course that addresses Communicative and Academic Spanish needed in a bilingual classroom for more than ten years. She also published the article, Functions of the verb decir (''to say'') in the incipient academic Spanish writing of bilingual children. Functions of Language, 15(2), 257-280 (2008) and the chapter, “Desde California. Acerca de la narración en ámbitos bilingües” In ¿Cómo aprendemos y cómo enseñamos la narración oral? (2015). Rosario, Homo Sapiens:127- 133.

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