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Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities

Studies in Honour of Giuseppina Cortese

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Edited By Sandra Campagna, Elana Ochse, Virginia Pulcini and Martin Solly

The title of this volume intentionally echoes that of a landmark issue of Textus on «Languaging» in and across Human Groups, edited by Giuseppina Cortese and Dell Hymes in 2001, since the notion of ‘languaging’ seems to capture most effectively the essence and the continuity in the life and work of Giuseppina Cortese, to whom the book is dedicated. It brings together contributions by a number of distinguished scholars that shed new light on current developments in this dynamic area of discourse analysis, especially taking into account recent research and emerging insights on speech communities and communities of practice.
The sections in the volume are designed as main threads of a new investigation into ‘languaging’. The first, entitled Languaging Awareness, deals with recent findings in applied linguistics, exploring key topics in language acquisition, language learning and teaching and the changing role of the media. The second section, Languaging Identity, prioritizes the theme of the construction of identity in text and talk within a linguistic and languaging framework. The third section, Languaging Community, explores the notion of community, of the lifeworld and the textworld emanating from a variety of domains, closely inspecting contemporary events and showing, on a continuum with Cortese’s approach, how memory of the past gives depth of meaning to a discourse analysis that is geared to linguistic and textual awareness.
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Reconciling Tradition and Innovation: Languaging in Professional Communities of Practice

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1.   Introduction

This chapter focuses on an important issue in the study of professional discourse: the dilemma of how to reconcile the need to follow the traditional canons alongside that of keeping pace with innovation. Professional communities tend to be conservative in their language choice, while new inventions, discoveries and breakthroughs often require new language use. Scientists, for example, break new ground in their studies and their scientific discoveries might need to be expressed in innovative language. As Beer (2009) has pointed out, Charles Darwin did not invent laws, he described them. Similarly, medical and legal professionals constantly need to face new situations in their fields and make careful use of language in the descriptions of their case studies. Although this dilemma between tradition and innovation is not new, it seems particularly relevant at the moment, given the current processes of globalization and the sociolinguistics of mobility (Blommaert 2010), alongside the unprecedented scale and speed of information transfer due to the impact of the new technological affordances.

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