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The (randomly selected) focus publication for August 2015 is:

McKenzie, R.M. (2015). The sociolinguistics of variety identification and categorisation: Free classification of varieties of spoken English amongst non-linguist listeners. Language Awareness, 24(2), 150-168. Doi: 10.1080/09658416.2014.998232 

Abstract: In addition to the examination of non-linguists’ evaluations of different speech varieties, in recent years, sociolinguists and sociophoneticians have afforded greater attention towards the ways in which naïve listeners’ perceive, process and encode spoken language variation, including the identification of language varieties as regionally or socially localised forms. The present study attempts to extend understanding of non-linguists’ perceptions of linguistic diversity through the investigation of how accurately and consistently UK-born students, resident in the north-east of England, can identify the speaker place of origin of six forms of L1 and L2 English. The results demonstrate that whilst the process of encoding indexical properties to and categorisations of speech stimulus as belonging to a specific language variety is complex, there is a clear tendency amongst informants to initially identify the speech as either native or non-native, most especially through the perception of specific segmental and non-segmental phonological features, before attempting more fine-grained classifications. The findings also point to the recognition of speaker place of origin at different levels of awareness, above and below the level of individual consciousness.

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Our focus publication for July 2015 is:

Harwood, J., & Vincze, L. (2015). Ethnolinguistic identity, vitality, and gratifications for television use in a bilingual media environment. Journal of Social Issues, 71, 73-89.

ABSTRACT: This article tests a model predicting minority language television consumption. We examine how four media gratifications (diversion, ethnolinguistic identity, surveillance, parasocial companionship) mediate the relationship between ethnolinguistic identification and choice of ingroup language television viewing. The study is performed among (minority) Hungarian speakers in Transylvania, Romania. Self-report questionnaire data from 401 Hungarian-speaking high school students in Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc (a majority Hungarian locale) and Brassó/Brașov (a minority Hungarian locale) allowed us to compare high and low local vitality conditions. Analysis indicates that diversion (entertainment) and ethnolinguistic identity gratifications for watching ingroup language television are the strongest mediators of the influence of identification on ingroup language television use. We examined four moderators of these indirect effects (objective vitality, subjective vitality, intergroup contact, and intragroup contact). The moderators revealed a number of rather complex effects which are discussed with regard to the local intergroup context and broader issues of media and intergroup relations.

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Our focus publication for this month (randomly selected) by an IALSP member is:

Burgers, C., Beukeboom, C.J., Sparks, L., & Diepeveen, V. (2015). How (not) to inform patients about drug use: Use and effects of negations in Dutch patient information leaflets. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 24(2), 137-143. doi: 10.1002/pds.3679.

Under EU regulations, patient information leaflets (PILs) are required to be clear and understandable. Negations (e.g., not, no) are a linguistic aspect that may impact PIL comprehension, yet go unmentioned in these regulations. We conducted two studies to determine (1) how negations are used in Dutch PILs (study 1) and (2) the effects of negations on readers (study 2).

Study 1 was a content analysis of 30 PILs of different brands of pollinosis drugs, half of which were freely available in drugstores and half only by physician prescription. We mapped negation use in PIL sections on ‘proper usage’ and ‘potential side effects’. Study 2 was an experiment in which participants (N = 80, Mage = 33.19 years, SDage = 13.66; 76.3% female) were presented with one of two PIL texts on proper drug usage. Texts were identical except for the use of negations. After reading, participants answered questions about comprehension, PIL appreciation and medical adherence intentions.

Study 1 demonstrates that negations are often used in PILs as 21.0% of clauses contain at least one negation. This number is higher in sections related to potential side effects than proper usage. Study 2 demonstrates that negations decrease both actual and subjective comprehension. Negations also decrease PIL appreciation and medical adherence intentions. The reduction in medical adherence intentions is driven by the decrease of subjective and not actual comprehension.

In general, participants prefer PILs that contain clear and comprehensible language. To increase comprehensibility, PIL designers should refrain from using negations as much as possible.

Posted by & filed under Executive Posts.

From Cindy Gallois

I am writing to bring you the very sad news of the death from cancer of Emeritus Professor Christopher N. Candlin, on May 10th.  Chris was a senior research professor in linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he started as Professor and Department Chair in 1987.  He was the Founding Director of the Centre for Language and Social Life at Macquarie, and he had previously started centres in applied linguistics and language and society at the University of Lancaster in England.  Chris was a world leader in applied linguistics, particularly in the analysis of discourse in real-life contexts.  He was passionate about using the theory and methodology of sociolinguistics to improve language in work, health, law, education – indeed, in all parts of society.  He had a strong connection with language and social psychology, and had been a keynote speaker at ICLASP.

Chris was a dynamic and productive scholar, who aimed to bridge the disciplines of linguistics, education, psychology, and sociology – no mean feat, but one he accomplished with enormous energy and aplomb.  He was very productive, with well over 150 books, chapters, and articles to his credit, and his work was well-cited.  His great energy resulted in, as well as a teaching and research career that spanned 50 years, the editorship of books and journals, and his time as President of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA).  He was an enthusiastic supervisor of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, with more than 70 graduates to his credit, and his students always admired his unstinting capacity to help and mentor them.

As well as founding and directing centres, Chris was active in conference organisation and presentations.  Many of us have profited greatly from the conference he started with Srikant Saranji: Communication, Medicine, and Ethics (COMET), one of the few places where researchers and practitioners from these diverse fields can come together.  He continued to work past retirement, until the final few weeks of his life.  When he died, he was co-editing a special journal issue, based on a symposium he had organised for AILA in 2014, called Making Applied Linguistics Matter – another opportunity to bring researchers and practitioners together.

Chris Candlin leaves a legacy of commitment to making research on language matter, and others should and will take up the charge he fulfilled so passionately.  He will be missed by all of us.