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Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities

Studies in Honour of Giuseppina Cortese


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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Modality Tagging as Evidence of ELF Communities’ Languaging


1.   Introduction: research questions, objectives and hypothesis

This paper stems from the author’s previous study entitled “Modality as evidence of community rhetoric” (Guido 2001) published in the Textus issue on “Languaging” in and across Human Groups edited by Giuseppina Cortese and Dell Hymes (2001). As such, it intends to develop the notion of ‘languaging’, meant as “the process of making meaning and shaping knowledge and experience through language” (Swain 2006: 98), by exploring the extent to which the process of ‘corpus tagging’ can explain the different meaning interpretations of native-English (henceforward ENL) modal verbs as ‘keywords in context’ – interpretations suggested by a sample of case-study subjects from different linguacultural communities who were non-native speakers of English – a language that they learned and used as a ‘lingua franca’ (henceforward ELF) for the expression of their own identities in intercultural communication (cf. Guido 2008; Seidlhofer 2011). In this sense, the view of languaging, meant, from a Vygotskyan perspective, as the reflection of the speakers’ native experiential schemata, or, from a Hallidayan perspective, as the speakers’ internalized L1 social semiotic that eventually becomes conscious (Swain 2006), is actualized through the development of a ‘problem-oriented tagging’ (de Haan 1984) of a number of modal-verb keywords – identified in strings of English text from the LOB (Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen) and Brown corpora – as they trigger interpretative contexts in the subjects’ minds. Such a tagging procedure is here assumed to be useful for enquiring into possible semantic and pragmatic ‘transfer processes’ from the subjects’ L1s...

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