From Cognitivism to Ecologism in Language Studies

by Marta Bogusławska (Volume editor) Alina Andreea Dragoescu Urlica (Volume editor) Lulzime Kamberi (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 178 Pages


Recent decades of studies have been human-centred while zooming in on cognition, verbal choices and performance. (…) [and] have provided interesting results, but which often veer towards quantity rather than quality findings. The new reality, however, requires new directions that move towards a humanism that is rooted in holism, stressing that a living organism needs to refocus in order to see the self as a part of a vast ecosystem.
Dr Izabela Dixon, Koszalin University of Technology, Poland
This volume is a collection of eight chapters by different authors focusing on ecolinguistics. It is preceded by a preface (..) underlin[ing] the presence of ecolinguistics as a newly-born linguistic theory and practice, something that explains the mosaic of content and method in the various chapters, with a more coherent approach being the aim for future research.
Prof. Harald Ulland, Bergen University, Norway

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Introduction. Ecolinguistics in the New Millennium (noted in the Year 2022) (Marta Bogusławska)
  • Communicating Medical Content Now and Then: Fact or Fiction? (Alcina Sousa, Alexandra Nunes)
  • The Expression of Boulomaic Modality by Means of Adverbs: The Case of Polish na szczęście and English fortunately (Agnieszka Piórkowska)
  • Is There Room for Magic in Scientific Discourse? (Natalia Malenko)
  • Promoting Tolerance among Pedagogy Students with the Use of Action Research (Hanna Arciszewska)
  • Stories and Ecolinguistics: From Egocentric to Ecocentric Storytelling in the Post-Epidemic Storyworld (Wenjuan Zhou)
  • Integrating Holistic Awareness and Ecological Competence in ESP Language Education (Alina Andreea Dragoescu Urlica, Alina Resceanu, Lulzime Kamberi)
  • The Ecology of ELT in the Google Classroom (Lulzime Kamberi, Alina Andreea Dragoescu Urlica)
  • In Your Own Backyard: Peer Food Web Learning in the Community Garden (Josh Skjold)
  • Appendix A.
  • Appendix B. Questionnaire responses
  • Series Index

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Since the 1970s, when ecolinguistics was born as a domain of modern linguistics, ecolinguistically-oriented research has encompassed quite a wide research area. Thus, ecolinguistics extends from the strictly theoretical studies (the philosophy of science, the methodology of science framing ecolinguistic metatheory), through eco-oriented investigations into the social, psychological and formal aspects of human communication, towards directly applicational research work in the domains of natural habitat protection, sustainable lifestyles, extended educational paradigm, holistic models of the healing process and expanded biosemiotics, to mention but a few of these.

At this phase of the ecolinguistic march into the mainstream of western language studies, we need to notice: (i) the emerging, already coherent product, which is newly formed ramifications of the (meta) theory and practice; and (ii) the ongoing vibrant self-profiling process of the discipline. The present collective volume reflects this emerging phase, in which ecolinguistics is currently profiling itself. The chapters show a newly born scientific presence and growing stamina of ecolinguistics; and, at the same time, an eclecticism and some (orderly) dis-order of themes and methods which are taken up by linguistics scholars involved in eco-linguistic explorations.

We enable the mosaic of content and method to appear in our volume as a result of this current self-defining expansion of ecolinguistics towards a coherent, systematic, theoretical-applicational format. Having a solid theoretical foundation in the modern holistic paradigm, ecolinguistics holds the potential to be part of the mainstream language studies. The applied programs raising from the ecolingusitc research realize the ecological ethos of inclusiveness, sustainability, harmony of co-existence, and global/individual well-being.

In brief, the chapters show a neonate scientific presence and growing stamina of ecolinguistics; and, at the same time, variation, and some (orderly) dis-order of themes and methods which are taken up by linguistics scholars involved in eco-linguistic explorations. The volume starts with the cognitive-linguistic analyses – the chapters on the medical discourse, on adverbs realizing the boulomaic modality, on the scientific discourse and its evolution. Then, the analyses extend beyond the mainstream cognitivist stance towards ←7 | 8→interdisciplinary research, with ecological/ecolinguistic extensions in the fields of educational studies, discourse, and communication studies.


Alina Andreea
Dragoescu Urlica

Lulzime Kamberi

September 2022

←8 | 9→

Marta Bogusławska

Introduction. Ecolinguistics in the New Millennium (noted in the Year 2022)

1. Pathways in Ecolinguistic Research

Ecologism in modern western linguistics includes several active research planes:

- critical discourse analysis which expresses concern for the protection of the natural habitat of planet Earth; lifestyle/behavioural models and communicational models being instrumental for either destructive processes or consciousness-raising processes (Stibbe, 2012; 2015);

- communication processes which pour out beyond structures of the system of material and cognitive language forms and become emplaced and embodied languaging (Cowley, 2018; 2021; Thibault, 2018a; 2018b), and transpersonal relating (Bogusławska-Tafelska, 2020a);

- communication, which is defined as a life process, and studied within the framework of modern holistic paradigm; in this approach, human communicators are not only speakers-listeners of linguistic messages, but are regarded as conscious living systems embedded in dynamic, local-nonlocal relationships, both cognitive (traditionally cognitive-linguistic) and noncognitive (Bogusławska-Tafelska, 2020a; 2020b);

- ecologism investigating the unfolding deep substrate of life via the philosophical and meta-scientific analysis; thinking styles in the scientific process and the paradigmatic framework with presumptions we adopt at the beginning of any scholarly activity become the essential research parameters to be considered in the scientific/ecolinguistic methodology (Walach and von Stillfried, 2011).

2. The Twenty-First-Century Holistic Paradigm

The ecological metaphor was adopted to name the ecolinguistic paradigm and research field by Einar Haugen (1972). It directs scholars towards the practical, applicational scientific work. And rightly so. One of the fundamental aims of science, in general, is its philanthropic aspect. Scholars observe reality, write algorithms, and build models, then test them in order to, at some phase of the scientific process, make their theoretical outcome practically viable. Hence, ←9 | 10→practical usefulness and the experiential aspect are probably most valued in the scientific activity (cf. the social use of science: Maxwell, 2017: 187–188). Ecolingistics, therefore, is an applied science.

Nevertheless, people of the western cultural zone are still very much navigated through life by their cognitive minds, which means that we need mental/theoretical models to support us in what we do; we need theoretical patterns to organize our behaviours and reassure ourselves in our basic decision-making, problem-solving and other cognitive operations. H. Walach ponders that “a paradigm and a theory are always stronger than data. […] humans are predictive, theoretical animals” (2015a: 75). So, regarding practical/applicational objectives of ecolinguistics, as well as the service-to-the-world orientation of its research programme, ecolinguists nevertheless need to start installing ecolinguistics in the mainstream of language studies by building a paradigm that is a solid theoretical platform. Without such a grounding, systematic theory, the applicationally orientated research in ecolinguistics may lack organization and impact. The theoretical work has a consolidating and instituting function as regards the field, the research, and the overall reception of the research in the scientific circles.

In order to delineate the theoretical framework of the twenty-first-century ecolinguistics, we start from reflecting upon the general idea of the state of facts we are about to observe and study. This is not an obvious discernment, as today we have two general choices, (i) we can decide on the classical world model/classical paradigm, or (ii) the postclassical world model/postclassical, post-Newtoninan, holistic paradigm. Both theoretical, meta-cognitive choices are available to scholars and each carries very different consequences upon choosing one or the other.

3. The Ecolinguistic Multimodality Model of Communication

In the post-classical, holistic paradigm, humans and the rest of the living world are seen and studied as open systems (Bertalanffy, 1968: 32; Couto, 2014: 127), which dynamically and continually interact intraorganismically and interorganismically. A portion of this interaction is observable within the realm of the material world; the material reality being included in the postclassical model – to the surprise of those who assume modern holism is about the unseen and nonmaterial only.

Nevertheless, when the space-time dimension of the classical, material world gives way to the post-classical, nonlocal realm of life – dynamic interactions that we see and experience in the physical dimension are not happening, but ←10 | 11→instead nonlocal relating occurs. Life processes continue to happen in the nonlocal layer of life, but their nature changes. In either of the case, be it classical processes of physicality, or nonlocal relating in the deep structures – scholars representing different research fields notice that these processes are communicational in essence. In the interdisciplinary scientific output, one finds this reference to communicational processes as underlying mechanisms in living systems, also these mechanisms which are not straightforwardly referred to language and linguistics. Hence, ecolinguistics proposes to test the model of communication regarded as a binding mechanism on various layers of the living world organization; partly, as a transpersonal mechanism.

Holistic assumptions begin with a basic idea that all living systems are interconnected at some level. At the same time, the world model and collectively agreed upon perceptions of modern western societies do not fully embrace this precept, because the idea of connectedness does not fit the Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian conceptualization of reality. Another reason for this lack of full absorption of modern holism is that, to date, sciences have not delivered systematic or theoretical evidence of interconnectivity as the possible basic ontology of life of the planet. For centuries, materialism has successfully influenced thinking in western societies.

I would like to point out that all this is currently in the process of change. That is to say, recent years have brought a shift in this respect and first serious scientific studies into holistic phenomena of life systems and life processes occurring separately on one layer of being, while being intertwined on other layers. Ecolinguistics, interested in building a meta-theory of life, is naturally active to enable this research and, consequently, facilitate the collective absorption of modern holism.

The research into the holism of life on the planet points to communication processes being the primary/basal linking mechanisms in the scheme of things. Current cell biology research (Michaud & Yoder 2006; Prodromou et al. 2012; Jin & Cordes, 2019) as well as studies on tissues and facia (Ofner & Walach, 2020) show the healing and regulatory effects healthy cells exert on damaged cells in an organism, and this balancing happens through intercellular, intra- and inter-tissue communication. Recent research indicates that healthy cells in a human body communicate with DNA of damaged cells and cause DNA repair modulating effect (Jin and Cordes, 2019). These mechanisms have just been observed and now studies have been focused on further modelling these mechanisms.

Biosemiotic studies have been supporting this complex communicational, living-systemic model of life by adding the mechanism of the external sign intervention to this theoretical picture. Signs, be it material artefacts as herbs or pills, ←11 | 12→or nonmaterial, local (i.e. interpersonal communication/self-talk) and nonlocal relational mechanisms (i.e. entanglement effects on the quantum level) have a primary communicational role to trigger self-regulatory processes in a living system. In a healing process, these are hypothesized to be the healing mechanisms, while all the rest is but manoeuvres and tricks facilitating the process (Walach, 2015b: 112; Bogusławska-Tafelska, 2020c).

Another field of current research delving into the holistic aspects of life is the neurocognitve research on mirror neurons (Rizzolatti, 2005; Marshall, 2014; Kilner & Lemon, 2013). Mirror neurons were discovered in the laboratory research about twenty years ago. These are clusters of neuronal cells in the pre-motor brain regions, which get active when triggered by the actions of another, external living system with whom an experiencer comes into contact/interacts. In other words, mirror neurons of an experiencer neurobiologically reflect not his/her own experiences but the experiences of another.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (November)
ecolinguistics holistic paradigm newparadigmatic ecological classroom medical discourse scientific discourse
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 178 pp., 1 fig. b/w, 1 tables.

Biographical notes

Marta Bogusławska (Volume editor) Alina Andreea Dragoescu Urlica (Volume editor) Lulzime Kamberi (Volume editor)

Marta Bogusławska, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Łomża State University of Applied Sciences in Poland. She focuses on ecolinguistics, exploring theoretical, newparadigmatic foundations of the applied science of ecolinguistics, and ecolinguistic interfaces with physics, cell biology and biosemiotics. Alina-Andreea Dragoescu Urlica, PhD, is a senior lecturer of English at the University of Life Sciences ‘King Michael I’ from Timisoara, Romania. Her interests include the ecology of communication, biosemiotics, and ecological discourse analysis. Lulzime Kamberi, PhD, is Associate Professor at the University of Tetovo in North Macedonia. Her research focuses on language acquisition and issues related to foreign language learning and teaching.


Title: From Cognitivism to Ecologism in Language Studies
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180 pages