AbstractThere is growing recognition that language cannot be seen as a pregiven system that correlates with and simply manifests itself in social context, but as a form of social practice. However, this perspective has not yet made a serious impact on applied linguistic research, where dominant modern ideologies of language that tend to conceive of language as an entity with clear boundaries and autonomous structure still prevail. We argue that this problem reflects a general lack of critical reflection on the fundamental assumptions of the discipline, and make this point via a review of some of the recent work on English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). In particular, we focus on a direction in research in which increasing effort is put into identifying and describing distinct ELFs within specific communities or domains, leading to a proliferation of ELFs, each of which can in turn be characterized in terms of a distinct set of formal linguistic features. We analyze the problems with identifying such “downscaled ELFs”, considering this research practice as an act of “linguistic baptism”, and discuss how it constitutes an uncritical appropriation of dominant metadiscursive regimes, rather than a careful engagement with them. In doing so, we call for a more serious consideration of metadiscursive regimes and the fundamental assumptions about language inherent in them.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Oct 25, 2013