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.