LINGUIST List 28.499

Tue Jan 24 2017

Review: English; Socioling: Friedrich (2016)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <>

Date: 22-Sep-2016
From: Zsuzsanna Zsubrinszky <>
Subject: English for Diplomatic Purposes
E-mail this message to a friend

Discuss this message

Book announced at

EDITOR: Patricia Friedrich
TITLE: English for Diplomatic Purposes
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
YEAR: 2016

REVIEWER: Zsuzsanna Zsubrinszky, Budapest Business School

Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


English is used in diplomatic contexts worldwide, including situations where none of the interlocutors are native speakers. The book, 'English for Diplomatic Purposes' edited by Patricia Friedrich, is a ground-breaking volume, which brings together the perspectives of researchers and practitioners to discuss the needs of those using and learning English for Diplomatic Purposes. Chapter authors use concepts from sociolinguistics, World Englishes, Peace Linguistics and English as a Lingua Franca. Combined with this theoretical background is a pragmatic understanding of the work of diplomacy and the realities of communication, as well as exercises designed to help students, teachers and practising diplomats reflect on, and develop their language use. The contributors to this volume concentrate on the English language itself (the many connections between language and culture a worthy addition) and on providing examples of application that could be used in the classroom or for individual practice by those without access to an English classroom-learning environment. This book represents an important first step in the opening-up of English for Diplomatic Purposes as a distinct field of study and learning, and as such will be a useful reading for scholars, instructors, students and all professionals working or studying in this area.

The volume consists of nine chapters in which the selected group of researchers exemplify the kind of dialogue that brings together academic scholarship and fieldwork. In Chapter 1, ‘Toward a Nonkilling Linguistics’, Patricia Friedrich and Francisco Gomes de Matos situate the theme of diplomacy and English within the larger realm of peace linguistics (both positive and negative) and overall respect for language users’ linguistic choices. The authors argue that respect for human communication and human dignity is paramount to building a nonkilling society and as such should be pursued in all aspects of our lives.

In Chapter 2, ‘Softening or Intensifying Your Language in Oppositional Talk: Disagreeing Agreeably or Defiantly’, Noriko Ishihara shows how it is possible to disagree and still maintain elements of politeness that foster openness to dialogues and understanding. The author demonstrates how balance between various contextual factors and the (in)formality, (in)directness and (im)politeness of the language used can be achieved and offers a chance for readers to analyse some meta-cognitive strategies of expert diplomats.

Chapter 3 presents us with a view on ‘Compassionate English Communication for Diplomatic Purposes’ by Josette LeBlanc. The chapter begins with an explanation of the definition of Compassionate English Communication (CEC), and how it came into being based on the author’s experience and research. Then the focus is on three thorough activities (description vs. evaluation, empathic analysis, and compassionate SMART-Choice request), in which literacy is practised and linked to such essential elements of successful interactions as persuasion and compassion itself.

In Chapter 4, ‘English as a lingua franca in East and Southeast Asia: Implications for Diplomatic and Intercultural Communication’, Andy Kirkpatrick, Sophiaan Subhan and Ian Walkinshaw look at how speakers of English as a lingua franca (EFL) use the language in naturally occurring contexts, including collegial interactions, discussions among consular officials and courtroom exchanges. The exchanges illustrate that the speakers focus on message rather than form, and are characterized by direct contradictions and disagreements, all threatening the recipients’ face.

In Chapter 5, ‘World Englishes and Peace Linguistics: Their Contribution to English for Diplomatic Purposes’, Patricia Friedrich explains some basic premises of World Englishes by bringing it together with Peace Linguistics, and then she offers a number of activities (e.g., variation in vocabulary and pronunciation, cultural and rhetorical differences etc.) to bring World Englishes awareness to the language and diplomacy classroom.

In Chapter 6, ‘Negotiating in English’, Danton Ford and Paul Kim Luksetich apply the principles of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and English for Diplomatic Purposes (EDP) to focus on negotiating in English. Also, they describe how cross-cultural issues and translation interplay with language. The language recommendations advocated in the chapter and the manner in which they are used comes from hours of training, interviews, and application by various levels of diplomats who have successfully negotiated in English as a second language.

In Chapter 7, ‘Force and Grace’, Biljana Scott overviews the linguistic devices that underlie force and grace respectively and demonstrates how these are not incompatible categories. In the second half of the chapter the author provides an analysis of the language (tone of voice, body language and facial expressions) of a former British diplomat with the intention of bringing to awareness dimensions of his native language.

In Chapter 8, ‘Pedagogy of Positiveness Applied to English for Diplomatic Purposes’, Francisco Gomes de Matos offers many activities (e.g., positivizers, lexicombining ability, terminology, alliterations, etc.) suitable for early learners to enhance one’s vocabulary and English use so as to foster peace and understanding, as well as communicate in socially responsible ways.

Finally, in Chapter 9, ‘Conclusion’, Patricia Friedrich invites readers, teachers, scholars and learners to continue to talk about the language use in diplomacy. Her ultimate goal with the book is to realize the wisdom of the right words to resolve disputes and conflicts through productive linguistic interactions.


The volume deals with diplomacy at a variety of levels, including the interpersonal, intercultural, and intergovernmental, and is informed by an appreciation of and respect for all languages and all peoples in the world. The chapters are designed to be used as materials that link theory and practice and ground suggestions and activities in dynamic research. Although the book makes a cohesive whole, its chapters can be read independently.

Compassion, peace and an understanding of others’ motives are very important considerations throughout the book because several of the authors align their work with Peace Linguistics, World Englishes and Sociolinguistics, areas that see matters of linguistic rights as essential and intrinsically linked to human rights themselves.

In some chapters activities appear at the end, whereas in others they are embedded in the text after the relevant sections or segments. One of the strengths of the volume is that readers will find more elementary aspects of language use as well as more abstract nuances of meaning and connotation represented. For instance, Chapters 6 and 8 can be easily adapted to help beginners, whereas some other chapters (e.g., Chapters 2 and 3) necessitate a more advanced understanding of language dynamics.

The editor and the contributors to this volume must be praised for having published this unique book which is a milestone in the field of English as a diplomatic language.


Zsuzsanna Zsubrinszky is Associate Professor in the English Department at Budapest Business School. Her research interests include discourse analysis, intercultural communication and English for Specific Purposes. She has published on business communication, intercultural communication and politeness issues in business emails.

Page Updated: 24-Jan-2017