Applied Linguistics Outlook

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Juan Li

Applied Linguistics


Applied Linguistics, published by Oxford University Press, is a quarterly journal which was founded in 1980 with aim of publishing “research into language with relevance to real world problems” (website). Perhaps the most explicit indicator of the journal’s orientation can be found in the “Aims” statement of the printed edition, which defines the term applied linguistics “…not only as the relation between theory and practice, but also as the study of language and language-related problems in specific situations in which people use and learn languages.” The journal thus announces its concern with language in real-world contexts, approached in a rigorous and theoretically-grounded manner: “the journal is less interested in the ad hoc solution of particular problems and more interested in the handling of problems in a principled way by reference to theoretical studies.” While pedagogical issues and implications are dealt with in many of the articles, the emphasis is on empirical investigation, whatever the overt context. Aside from language learning and teaching, the journal lists several areas of enquiry from which it encourages contributions, including critical linguistics, discourse analysis, language planning, lexicography, multilingualism, stylistics and rhetoric, and translation.
The current editorial board and readers are made up of professionals associated in various ways with second language acquisition. These include editors Martin Bygate and Claire Kramsch, as well as Christopher Candlin, Susan Gass, Diane Larsen-Freeman, Merrill Swain, and Nina Spada. Included as well are a fair number of names specifically associated with discourse analysis of one form or another: Dwight Atkinson, Douglas Biber, Malcolm Coulthard, Norman Fairclough, Thomas Huckin, Ben Rampton, John Swales, and Michael Stubbs. While both Europe and North America are represented, there is a clear orientation towards British and European schools of applied linguistics. Similarly, although one can find a range of discourse analytic approaches within its pages, Applied Linguistics exhibits a distinct preference for descriptive studies. This is not to say that critical analyses of the type espoused by Fairclough and Teun Van Dijk are eschewed, but that these are not the norm. Swalesean genre analysis is well-represented, as is sociolinguistic and conversation analysis. The journal has also recently published studies of intonation, stylistics, and pragmatics.

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