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Review of  The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, 10 Volume Set

Reviewer: Eric A. Anchimbe
Book Title: The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, 10 Volume Set
Book Author: Carol A. Chapelle
Publisher: Wiley
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 25.2250

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With over 1000 contributors from more than 40 countries and with 1,100 entries covering 27 main areas of the field of applied linguistics, “The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics” is certainly the most comprehensive and representative work in the field available in the market at the moment. Carol A. Chapelle and her topic area editors must be commended for this extraordinary compilation, which is not static, but will be updated and reshaped, at least in its online version, twice every year. The contributions range from 1,000-word expository descriptions of specific topics to 2,500-word analytical investigations. From the range of topics covered, the “Encyclopedia” is highly innovative in that it incorporates both traditional areas of research in applied linguistics and new areas that have emerged recently, e.g. forensic linguistics, as well as traditional areas that have been impacted by new technologies (e.g. cyberpragmatics), language learning and teaching, language policy and planning, and the mobility of people across the globe which has subsequent influences on language contact, policy, etc. For Chapelle, the “Encyclopedia” is “a reference work encompassing the range of research on language-related problems that arise in the real-world contexts where languages are learned and used” (p.1xvi) taking into account challenges caused by the expansion in “language contact, language learning, and language technologies” since “[m]ore and more people, either by choice or by need, migrate to live in a location where they need to be able to use an additional language” (p.1xxiv). By including biographies of people who have shaped the field of applied linguistics, the “Encyclopedia” also offers an additional perspective to the history of the field and its current, though constantly expanding, scope.


Writing a review of this ten-volume set of 6449 pages and 3.5 million words is intriguing, since it is impossible to be exhaustive. In order to give the “Encyclopedia” the best possible presentation, I look here at the 27 areas covered, though with the risk that topics and authorities in these areas may simply be lumped together. Although there are 27 areas, the “Encyclopedia” is organised alphabetically -- an organisational choice that makes retrieving contributions easy but which does not group them together in topic areas.

The first topic area, “Analysis of discourse and interaction,” edited by Rodney H. Jones, covers both discursive and pragmatic issues in interaction with focus on gender, identity, narrative, silence, face, politeness, positioning, implicatures and multimodality, and how they are relevant for applied linguistics. The topic area “Assessment and testing” edited by Carol A. Chapelle and Lia Plakans covers topics ranging from types, methods, ethics, and tools of language assessment to contexts of assessment. Assessment here is not limited to the classroom but also beyond. Topics grouped under the area “Bilingual and multilingual education,” edited by Jasone Cenoz and Durk Gorter, describe multilingual education in various parts of the world including Africa, the Arab World, Australia, China, Europe, India, Latin America, and North America. Authorities in this field like Ofelia Garcia, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, and Viv Edwards are also profiled here.

“Bilingualism and multilingualism,” also edited by Jasone Cenoz and Durk Gorter, places itself at the interface of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics. The contributions seek to establish the relationship between bilingualism and/or multilingualism and age, cognition, youth language, language planning and policy, aphasia, language rights, media, and the internet. The pervasiveness of bilingualism and multilingualism, which are becoming the norm rather than the exception across the world today, and the huge space accorded to them in this “Encyclopedia” explains how thoroughly Chapelle follows through on her aim of opening up new areas in the expanding field of applied linguistics.

In the topic area “Cognitive second language acquisition,” edited by Marianne Gullberg and John Williams, theories, practice, and stages in second language acquisition are discussed along with experts in the field like Rod and Nick Ellis. Their contribution to this topic area is enormous and can be understood from the number of times they are cited in this section.

With more than 35 entries, “Conversation analysis” edited by Johannes Wagner and Kristian Mortensen, features as a major area in applied linguistic research. Here new methods in, and analytical frameworks within, conversational analysis are used in investigating of, for instance, cockpit communication, emergency calls, gender and sexuality, therapy, membership categories, and so forth.

As a relatively fresh field with tools provided by new technologies, “Corpus linguistics,” edited by Michael Stubbs and Dorothea Halbe, has three main focuses: language-based corpora, types of corpora, and the application of corpus linguistic methods to various text types and linguistic sub-fields. The choice of experts profiled here reflects the historical and methodological evolution of the area: from Randolph Quirk, Geoffrey Leech, Sydney Greenbaum to Stig Johansson, Henry Kucera, and Douglas Biber.

Even though often treated as incorporating everything having to do with discourse, the topic area of “Critical discourse analysis,” edited by Angel Lin, contains only 12 entries, two of them on the experts Norman Fairclough and Ruth Wodak. Interesting in the contributions here is the inclusion of CDA of popular culture and interaction in the new media. “Culture and context,” edited by Karen Risager, covers topics in anthropological linguistics, sociocultural theory as well as an impressive list of authors dating back to Edward Sapir and including contemporary authors like Alessandro Duranti, Aneta Pavlenko, and Alastair Pennycook. Also on communication, “Discourse,” edited by Sigrid Norris, incorporates types of discourse (e.g. immigrant, mediated, intercultural) and contains an impressive list of authorities from different language backgrounds.

As a recent field of investigation within applied linguistics, the “Forensic linguistics” section edited by Krzysztof Kredens gives a history of the field before moving on to common topics like courtroom interaction, jury instructions, police interrogations, prison language, and linguistic human rights.

In the topic area, “Grammar,” edited by Karin Aijmer, theories of grammar such as functional grammar and generative grammar as well as other topics that traditionally do not belong to grammar, for instance, speech acts, semantic prosody, and language attrition are presented. However, in describing these other issues from an applied linguistic perspective, the contributors situate the place of grammar in their realisation. Additionally, various aspects of discourse grammar, also often treated under text linguistics, take prominence in this section.

While in “Language for specific purposes,” edited by Thomas A. Upton and Ulla Connor, attention is paid to language for specific purposes in various parts of the world (e.g. Asia and Eastern Europe), the bulk of the studies is on how English is used for specific purposes, for instance, in aviation, nursing, science and technology, business, tourism, and the maritime domain. Like in most other topic areas, the choice of profiled authors spans the history of the field, e.g. from Larry Selinker to Brian Paltridge.

The contributions in the section “Language ideology” edited by Patricia Friedrich, Aya Matsuda, and Janina Brutt-Griffler, touch on issues such as linguistic imperialism, linguistic legislation, globalisation, endangerment and identity. Here, ideology is projected as one of the driving forces behind standardisation, pedagogy, and translation as well as related concepts of nativism or nativeness.

With perhaps the highest number of contributions, the topic area “Language learning and teaching,” edited by Lourdes Ortega, addresses one of the core topics in applied linguistics. From material design, learning and teaching practices to non-classroom-based forms of teaching, this area covers a huge part of applied linguists’ interests. Beyond the traditional issues, a number of new issues are also discussed, among them, the use of the World Wide Web for language teaching, online intercultural exchanges, and computer-assisted language learning -- which all make use of new technologies. Equally extensively represented in the “Encyclopedia” is the area, “Language policy and planning,” edited by Joseph Lo Bianco, and also a core area of applied linguistics. Besides the expected topics, we find a contribution on the “African Union” by Nkono Kamwangamalu which deals with the Union’s language-related policies, especially towards African indigenous languages.

The topic area “Lexis,” edited by Brent Wolter and Paul Meara, describes both lexicological and lexicographic issues with highlights such as the COBUILD project, lexical semantics, WorldNet and onomastics. In the section on “Literacy” edited by Eva Lam, besides theories and approaches to literary, focus is also on the place of literacy in multicultural education, multilingual classrooms, and virtual environments. Again, the virtual space continues to emerge as a new platform on which many real-world language-related problems or issues are resolved or performed.

“Multimodal communication,” edited by Sigrid Norris, places multimodality within film, globalisation, ritual, software, technology, culture, disability, and of course language learning and teaching. The impression we get from this section, as pragmatic literature from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s shows, is that all forms of communication and interaction are multimodal in one way or another.

In “Phonetics and phonology,” edited by John Levis and Murray J. Munro, we find a broad range of topics including frameworks in phonetics and phonology, the teaching of phonetics and phonology, software in the analysis of sounds, and issues of pronunciation and accents. The mix of teaching and research in this area is also found in the authors profiled here: Kenneth Lee Pike, M.A.K. Halliday, Clifford Prator, Daniel Jones, and A.C. Gimson, among others.

The topics discussed in the area “Pragmatics,” edited by Marta González-Lloret, belong to the traditional issues within the field. John L. Austin, John R. Searle, Stephen C. Levinson, and Penelope Brown are all profiled -- but surprisingly, not Paul Grice, Geoffrey Leech, Dan Sperber or Deirdre Wilson, who have all made substantial contributions to pragmatics.

The next two sections, “Qualitative methods” (edited by Linda Harklau and Meryl Siegal) and “Quantitative and mixed methods” (edited by Joan Jamieson and Kim McDonough) cover the range from qualitative to quantitative methods in the humanities, social sciences, and even beyond. The inclusion of mixed methods here illustrates how separating them strictly in research practice is often difficult.

The section “Social, dynamic, and complexity theory approaches to second language development,” edited by Amy Snyder Ohta, returns to the acquisition of a second language but this time focusing particularly on second language development with topics like internalisation, agency, complexity, inner speech, gesture and variability in second language acquisition. In “Technology and language” edited by Thomas Cobb, contributions on computer-based and computer-mediated language use and analysis together with the relationship between technology and culture, literacy, translation and vocabulary learning are investigated. Also prominent here are studies on language corpora, e.g. spoken corpora and learner corpora. Linguistics, we are led to understand, is increasingly relying on technology as a methodological and an analytical companion.

“Translation and interpreting,” edited by Claudia V. Angelelli, Nadja Grbic, and Brian Baer, presents cognitive approaches to interpreting. The breadth of this field is once more portrayed in the topics presented here, e.g. medical translation, Bible translation, media interpreting, official translation, and liaison interpreting. The last area, “World Englishes,” edited by Aya Matsuda, Patricia Friedrich, and Janina Brutt-Griffler, brings together research on varieties of English, especially postcolonial varieties, and pidgins and creoles. The latter is only minimally investigated with only two of the 27 contributions about pidgins and creoles. Only two authors, Braj and Yamuna Kachru, are profiled here. The others, I presume, will be included in subsequent updates of the “Encyclopedia”, which, as mentioned above, will be updated and expanded upon twice yearly.


The content of this “Encyclopedia” is just as huge and inexhaustible as the field of applied linguistics itself. One thing Chapelle and her team deserve praise for is the expansion of the applied linguistics enterprise and the smooth accommodation of new and ‘slippery’ topics and fields under its umbrella, both at the level of research and using research to tackle real-world problems. That some prominent authors and topics are not included in the “Encyclopedia” in its current form is only an ephemeral critique because the work is on-going and will be updated and reshaped two times a year. These missing authors and topics will eventually be included, since as Chapelle promises: “We are dedicated to keeping the “Encyclopedia” current, and to making it available in different formats, to meet the needs of scholars and students in applied linguistics in addition to those who work with language-related problems beyond applied linguistics” (p.1xxv).

The mix of biographies and research in the “Encyclopedia” provides readers a unique chance to match developments in particular sub-topic areas with the people who kick-started or aided the course of those developments. Researchers, students, and experts or facilitators in real-world language-related contexts will find this work to be both a companion and a guide.
Eric A. Anchimbe teaches English Linguistics at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. His current research is on offers and offer refusals in postcolonial communities from a postcolonial pragmatics perspective, and also political discourse from below in Africa. Among his recent publications are the monograph 'Language Policy and Identity Construction' (Benjamins, 2013), the special issue of the Journal of Pragmatics entitled 'Postcolonial Pragmatics' 43(6) (2011, ed. With Dick Janney), 'Language Contact in a Postcolonial Setting' (ed., De Gruyter, 2012), and 'Postcolonial Linguistic Voices' (ed. with S.A. Mforteh, De Gruyter, 2011).

Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9781405194730
Pages: 6582
Prices: U.S. $ 1695.00