Jan 032010

Mars et Venus by AndyRob.If you’re a company or government agency and your organization is having some communication problems, who do you call for help: a management consultant, or an occupational psychologist perhaps?

I’ve just come across a paper by Joanna Channell explaining why a linguist might be a better bet. She provides concrete examples of  valuable help linguists have provided using approaches such as needs analysis, genre analysis, pragmatics, conversational analysis and corpus linguistics.

You need to scroll down to page 13, but the paper is freely available on the web as part of the University of Surrey’s 2003 Language for Special Purposes conference proceedings.

Joanna notes a culture gap between Language for Special Purposes practitioners and non-linguists:

Helpfully, she also suggests ways we might bridge the divide. Her advice seems very transferable to business English trainers, consultants and schools pitching to clients to me too. And as Joanna aptly puts it:

I believe there is a need for a major international effort to raise the profile of applied linguistics and within this, the LSP [Language for Special Purposes] perspective. Currently much organisational consultancy is carried out either by people applying psychology or applying management sciences. I am clear that applied linguistics has a legitimate and needed place alongside these two.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm

  2 Responses to “Need help? Call a linguist”

  1. Hi, Happy New Holiday etc etc!!
    My comment isn’t exactly relevant to your excellent piece but i’ve been waiting to tell you this story since Christmas Day and i can’t wait any longer.
    Anyhow i would have to wait for a post about offers, or Australia or Irish music and who knows when that will come along?
    But i think the story might inspire you for a post so here goes.
    A friend, lets call him Geoff, who is a musician and lived at the time in Australia – a long way back.
    The Chieftans were on tour and somehow he met them and found out that the tin whistle player had lost, or forgotten his tin whistle – clearly a problem in a traditional irish band. Geoff is among other things a tin whistle player and said
    “You can have mine if you like”
    The Tin whistle player, brought up in anglo/irish/saxon politeness, said
    ‘Oh, i couldn’t possibly”
    Geoff brought up in Australian directness said.
    ‘Oh, ok.”

    He really didn’t understand the rules of the game and needed help from at least a linguist!

  2. Ha! Love it and so glad you didn’t wait. You did indeed inspire me, Chris. Thank you!

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