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AILA ReN Folk Linguistics

The AILA Research Network (ReN) on Folk Linguistics (formerly: Lay Theories and Folk Beliefs about Language(s), Language Learning and Communication) decided to change the name of the ReN to the shorter and more widely known Folk Linguistics. This is one of the results of the first workshop on December 5, 2009 in Salzburg at the ÖLT (Österreichische Linguistiktagung) and the subsequent discussion.

At the ReN workshop, we were able to welcome guest speakers to share their research findings with us. We would like to say thank you to Marie-Luise Voggler, Christiane Dalton-Puffer and Julia Hüttner for their interesting presentations. Furthermore, we are happy to welcome Dennis Preston as a new member of our ReN.

The next ReN workshop took place in Bergen, Norway, from September 10-11, 2010. In Bergen, we prepared the application for a ReN Symposium at the 16th AILA World Congress in Beijing in August 2011.

At the ReN symposium in Beijing on August 25, 2011, the members of the ReN introduced various areas of folk linguistic interest in short presentations, allowing ample time for discussion with other reseachers and guests. We were pleased to welcome many interested colleagues to this event.

Issue (24) of the AILA Review was edited by the convenors of the ReN, Antje Wilton & Martin Stegu, and contained contributions by ReN members on a number of topics relating folk linguistic research to applied linguistics.

The ReN held a very successful thematic session at the Sociolinguistics Symposium 19 in Berlin in 2012. The call for papers invited contributions on our session topic, Folk linguistics and society: People's ideas about language use and social identity, and was met with an overwhelming response of 35 submissions of which 19 were heard over three days. The papers presented research on non-linguists' perceptions of language in the formation of social identity from various regions of the world and stressed the necessity of taking such views into account in any situation in which decisions about language are made, such as language teaching and language policy and planning. The session finished with a discussion on folk linguistic issues. 

At the AILA World Congress in Brisbane in August 2014, the ReN symposium included three presentations on the topic of Folk Linguistics and Language Policy. Unfortunately, due to the lack of funding, most ReN members were not able to join the symposium. Nevertheless, the session was successful in that the three presentations sparked off a lively discussion with an interested audience.

The ReN is currently preparing a roundtable discussion at the ALA conference 2016 in Vienna and their symposium at the upcoming AILA World Congress 2017 in Rio de Janeiro.

We can safely claim that folk linguistic research, its interest and its methodologies has firmly established itself among the approaches in sociolinguistics as well as applied linguistics and we are very satisfied with the successful work of the Research Network over the last seven years. 

ReN Outline

This research network comprises applied linguists who address various aspects of folk beliefs or lay theories as applied linguistic issues in their research. In general, the focus lies on beliefs on language, language learning and communication and their relevance for decisions in people’s everyday and working lives.
Well established in the study of second language acquisition, the quantitative as well as qualitative investigation of learner’s attitudes and beliefs provides insight into the motivational sources of language learning. Thus, knowing about folk beliefs can significantly improve the understanding of and the influence on teacher behaviour, teacher training, and the design of curricula and teaching materials.

More generally, the beliefs and decisions of the layperson have become more important and relevant for scientists of quite a number of disciplines mainly for two reasons: On the one hand the non-expert, lay person is flooded with a vast amount of information on any subject, and quite often this is scientific information diluted by didactic or journalistic procedures. The growing demand for information is reflected in the popularity of guide books, ‘docutainment’ programmes on television, presentations for the public on scientific topics as well as the introduction of systematic teaching of knowledge in early education. In addition, the internet makes information available on a large scale and of varying quality and detail. On the other hand, the growing trend of bringing one’s private opinion to public attention forces researchers to take more notice of such opinions and their relevance for people’s decision making processes. Chat shows and blogs are prime examples of settings in which lay people voice their opinions and theories.

These developments are becoming increasingly relevant for applied linguists especially in linguistically diverse regions. With the investigation of folk beliefs in areas that are relevant to the individual the linguist can gain insight into the formation processes, the manifestation in various forms of discourse and the relevance of such beliefs for people’s decisions and actions. Furthermore, the investigation of lay beliefs on the nature of translation and interpreting, language acquisition, multilingualism, language policy, intercultural and any other kind of communication problems etc. might raise the linguists’ awareness of people’s need for information on linguistic issues and might ultimately help to bring Applied Linguistics (and its researchers) to public attention.

Programme for Activities

The members of this ReN are currently engaging in the following activities:

  • providing an overview of and bringing together the field of lay theories and folk beliefs about language(s), language learning, and communication as a distinct research area within Applied Linguistics;
  • exchanging information with each other about the various aspects and findings in the field;
  • document joint research activities in joint publications;
  • fostering the multinational and multilingual potentials of the network;
  • encouraging more new researchers to work on the topic of lay theories by promoting and supporting PhD studies and similar projects;
  • providing information on activities and news publications on this webspace;
  • preparing a slot reserved for AILA Research Networks with a symposium at AILA 2017.


Prof. Dr. Antje Wilton (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Current members

Prof. Dr. Martin Stegu (Convener)
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Prof. Dr. Antje Wilton (Convener)
University of Siegen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Karol Janicki
University of Bergen, Norway

Dr. Michael Pasquale
Cornerstone University, USA

Dr. Holger Wochele
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Osthus
University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Paveau, Marie-Anne
University of Paris, France

Prof. Dr. Achard-Bayle, Guy
University of Paul-Verlaine-Metz, France

Dr. Alessia Cogo
University of Southampton, Great Britain


Prof. Dr. Dennis Preston

Oklahoma State University, USA


Dr. Robert McKenzie

Northumbria University, Great Britain


Dr. Madalena  Cruz-Ferreira



Prof. Dr. Matteo Santipolo

University of Padua, Italy


Katiuska Santibanez

Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion, Chile and China


Dr. Támas Péter Szabó

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary


Dr. Barbara Soukup

University of Vienna, Austria

English as a lingua franca (ELF) is a thriving field of research which has found its place in applied linguistics in the last decade. During this time we have seen an increasing number of publications and research projects on ELF, such as the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE) and the corpus of English as a Lingua Franca in Academic Settings (ELFA), the foundation of annual ELF conferences  and most recently the creation of a dedicated journal (Journal of English as a Lingua Franca, issue 1.1 published in March 2012) and an ELF book series (Developments in English as a Lingua Franca).

ELF research focuses on the use of English in intercultural situations where speakers with different linguacultural backgrounds share English as their common means of communication and as a dynamic and co-constructed linguistic resource. ELF research has been conducted on different linguistic levels, such as phonology, lexicogrammar, pragmatics and the intersections of these. In addition, studies on ELF have explored various domains, including business and academic settings, and have expanded in different dimensions of investigation, including attitudes and identity, (inter)cultural aspects and pedagogical implications.

With an increasing amount of empirical descriptions available, some of the burning questions about ELF concern applied linguistic matters of language teaching and communication training, language policy, language awareness and multilingualism. Other issues concern methodological questions, which relate to qualitative and quantitative approaches as well as to technological aspects of corpus linguistic applications. An important future development of ELF as a field in applied linguistics would seem to be furthering collaborations with researchers from different disciplines, within and outside linguistics.

It is the aim of this research network to serve as forum for debate, discussion and more extensive collaboration among researchers and applied linguists who are actively involved in ELF research. The network currently includes over 65 participants (from more than 20 countries) who have various areas of expertise within ELF research. They include scholars at different stages of their careers, ranging from PhD students to very experienced academics, all of whom will help advance ELF research and applied linguistics by bringing in their different disciplinary and cultural perspectives.

If you are actively involved in ELF research and are interested in joining the network please contact the ELF-ReN convenors:

Dr. Alessia CogoGoldsmiths, University of London
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Marie-Luise PitzlUniversity of Vienna 
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ELF-ReN Activities

The annual ELF conferences (University of Helsinki in 2008, University of Southampton in 2009, University of Vienna in 2010, Hong Kong Institute of Education in 2011, Bogaziçi University Istanbul in 2012) provide excellent opportunities for research exchange on ELF and for meeting other ELF-ReN participants. With the acceptance of this AILA ReN on ELF in February 2012, short ELF-ReN meetings will from now on be organized at each ELF conference.

The 1st ELF-ReN meeting was held at:

5th International Conference on English as a lingua franca (ELF5), Conference Theme: Pedagogical Implications of ELF in the Expanding Circle, 24-26 May 2012, Istanbul, Turkey.

The next ELF conference and ELF-ReN meeting was:

6th International Conference on English as a lingua franca (ELF6), Conference Theme: Intercultural Communication: new perspectives from ELF, 4-7 September 2013, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy

ELF-ReN workshops

In addition to the ELF conferences, one or two themed smaller ELF-ReN workshops will be organized per year.

The 1st ELF-ReN workshop was held at:

1st ELF-ReN Workshop, Workshop Theme: ‘Teaching (B)ELF and/or Intercultural Communication?’, initiated by Susanne Ehrenreich & Marie-Luise Pitzl, 22-23 June 2012, TU Dortmund University. 

The 2nd ELF-ReN Workshop took place at the University of Southampton in Fall 2013. For any information please contact Alessia Cogo.






The research network Media Linguistics links applied linguists who address crucial aspects of text production (written, oral and online) in the domain of public discourse in general and news media in particular. The aim of the newly emerging field of media linguistics is to investigate the highly complex and dynamic interplay of language use in public spheres, newsrooms, and news source domains such as business or politics. Appropriate inter- and transdisciplinary theories, methodologies, and solutions to practical problems in this emerging field of applied linguistics will be developed. It is suggested that media linguistics (in particular knowledge about news production processes) can significantly improve our understanding of language dynamics in an increasingly mediatized world.

Field of activity

“[T]here is a dearth of work on the production of news language (…)” That was how Allan Bell concluded his 2006 encyclopedia article about news language” (Bell 2006). How right he was. Investigating text production processes in media workplaces remains a gap in all the disciplines involved: writing research, communication studies, and applied linguistics. Linguistics first focused on written language, later describing conversations as processes, and only then rediscovered written language from a process perspective. But even today journalism and news media seem of little interest to most linguists investigating text production processes. Media discourse continues to be predominantly investigated from a product-oriented perspective or even as easily accessible everyday language.

In our ReN we will contribute to filling the gap mentioned not only by the sociolinguist Allan Bell, but also, among others, by Charles Bazerman (2008), in written communication and by Mathias Broth (2008), in media studies. Combining computer logging and ethnography from text production research, micro-macro perspectives from sociolinguistics and language teaching and training approaches from applied linguistics two of the future ReN participants (Daniel Perrin for the domain of journalism and Geert Jacobs for PR) began a series of increasingly complex field studies of professional text production in the mid-nineties: first local projects, then national, and finally those of European scope and framework. More and more researchers are now building on the research designs developed in these and other projects, not only for news production research, but also for investigating text production processes in domains such as translation, education, and academia. This experience of applying a process perspective to the linguistic analysis of media discourse is what we plan to develop further in an interdisciplinary framework and to take into the international community of applied linguistics.

We take the new brand of ‚media linguistics‘ described above to be the starting point for investigating socially relevant questions of language use such as how news comes into being. In our individual or joint publications, our conference panels, and other coordinated research activities, we will

  • outline the main research questions and methods, explain how media linguistics can be related to other disciplines and identify the added value that it brings to applied linguistics, to related academic disciplines and to the professional field under investigation.
  • develop research frameworks and questions for projects in which e.g. newswriting is investigated as a situated activity of language use and then related to psychobiography, social settings and cultural resources – to individual, organizational, and political empowerments and constraints.
  • systematically present and discuss new scientific knowledge – and the transformation of this knowledge, i.e. the application of linguistic knowledge generated by investigating individual, collaborative and organizational text production processes in the sample domain of journalism.

To sum up, this ReN is meant to show that a) the question of Allan Bell’s “dearth of work” is currently being addressed, and b) applied linguistics is in pole position to fill “the gaps”.

Activities of the ReN Media Linguistics

  • Joint research activities and endeavours which have already taken place
  • AILA 2008 symposium, featuring Aleksandra and Daniel
  • NT&T research network, featuring Geert, Tom, Ellen, Colleen and Daniel
  • IPRA 2009 panel, featuring Tom, Daniel and Ellen
  • ICA 2009 conference, featuring Daniel, Tom and Richard

The members of this ReN commit themselves to engaging in the following general activities in 2011-2014:

  • providing an overview of and bringing together the field of media linguistics as a distinct research area within applied linguistics;
  • documenting joint research activities in joint publications;
  • ostering the multinational and multilingual potential of the network;
  • encouraging new researchers to work in the field of media linguistics by promoting and supporting PhD studies and similar projects;
  • holding joint symposia and conferences prior to AILA 2014;
  • establishing the website for information exchange and news publications in connection with the AILA website.

AILA Commitment

The members of this ReN commit themselves to filling a slot reserved for AILA Research Networks with a symposium at AILA 2014 and to bringing together the work of the three years in a joint proposal for a volume in the John Benjamins / AILA book series on the important aspects of this emerging field, to further establish it as a relevant area in AL.


Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Email. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For activities of the ReN members see