Episode 17

Acrostic: A form of poetry where the first letters of each line, written from top to bottom, make a word. 

Alliteration: Words in close proximity that start with the same letter, e.g. ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’.

Indexical sign: Going back to the semiotic theory by Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), an index establishes a relation of cause and effect between the sign and what it signifies. For example, traces in the snow index that someone has walked there. Other types of signs are icons, where a sign resembles what it signifies (e.g. emojis) and symbols, where the relation between the sign and what it refers to is arbitrary and conventional (e.g. a red rose symbolising romantic love in some cultures). 

Ostranenie: A term from formalist Russian theories on literature which translates into ’defamiliarisation’. It refers to the use of poetic language to make familiar things seem strange in order to gain new perspectives on them.  

Parallelism: A parallel arrangements of elements in a sentence, e.g. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. Opposite: chiasmus.  

Semiotics: The study of how meanings are made by the use of signs.   

Speech acts: see episode 9

Episode 16

Keyword: In general terms, a word that is of central importance in a text or discourse. The term has a specific meaning in corpus linguistics, where it denotes a word that is used in a corpus with statistically significant frequency when compared to a reference corpus. 

Nudge theory: A concept from behavioural science which refers to influencing behaviour through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions rather than legislation or enforcement. It was first made popular by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein’s book Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness (Yale University Press, 2008).

Register: A way of using language that is linked to a particular social, including professional activity, such as a bureaucratic register. Registers feature typical words and grammatical forms, e.g. words of Latin origin. 

Source domain: A term from conceptual metaphor theory that denotes a semantic domain that speakers draw on to talk about something in metaphoric terms. For example, in the metaphor COMPANY IS A SHIP (e.g. realised in “Ms Firorina took the helm at Hewlett Packard”), SHIP is the source domain, while company is the so-called target domain.

Episode 15

Clefts: In cleft sentences, a simple sentence is expressed through a main clause and a relative clause, in order to draw attention to a particular part of the sentence. It-clefts take the form it + to be + relative clause, e.g. ‘It was Sarah who gave the order’. Wh-clefts, also known as pseudo-clefts, take the form relative clause + to be +x, e.g. ‘What I really needed was some time to myself’. Listeners/readers in Northern England will be familiar with the Yorkshire cleft (also heard in Lancashire), which take the form main clause + to be + subject, as in ‘They are tender things, are artichokes’. 

Deixis: Ways to point to something inside or outside texts. So-called deictic markers can indicate something as being close or further away in space or time, e.g. ‘this’ and ‘these’ vs. ‘that’ and ‘those’, ‘’now’ vs. ‘then’. 

Ethos, logos, pathos: In Aristotelian rhetoric, these refer to three strategies of persuading audiences: through credibility (ethos), rationality (logos) or emotion (pathos). 

Hypotaxis: Sentence structure that is characterised by a main clause and many sub-clauses, usually found in written language. Opposite: parataxis.  Phatic communication: see episode 4.

Episode 14

Portmanteau words: New words that are formed by blending two existing words. For example, ‘Brexit’ is a portmanteau of ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’. 

Small stories: Short forms of storytelling that are different from the typical narrative relating a sequence of events. A small story can only hint at a longer story, defer or refuse telling a story, or give only part of a story.

Episode 13

Degrowth: is an idea that critiques the global capitalist system which pursues growth at all costs, causing human exploitation and environmental destruction. The degrowth movement of activists and researchers advocates for societies that prioritize social and ecological well-being instead of corporate profits, over-production and excess consumption. This requires radical redistribution, reduction in the material size of the global economy, and a shift in common values towards care, solidarity and autonomy. Degrowth means transforming societies to ensure environmental justice and a good life for all within planetary boundaries

Dialogue, as David Bohm envisioned it, is a radically new approach to group interaction, with an emphasis on listening and observation, while suspending the culturally conditioned judgments and impulses that we all have. This unique and creative form of dialogue is necessary and urgent if humanity is to generate a coherent culture that will allow for its continued survival.

William Isaacs : see

Episode 12

Conversational maxims: According to H. P. Grice, the four maxims that speakers need to adhere to for successful conversation are 

Cooperative principle:A notion introduced by H. P. Grice in his article “Logic and conversation” (1975), which states that speakers understand each other in conversation, because they follow particular rules and assume that others do as well. Those rules are known as → conversational maxims. 

Narrative structure: One very influential model of how speakers organise their stories was put forward by socio-linguist William Labov. His model was derived from interviews about personal experience with young African American men in the mid- to late 1960s and comprises six elements:

Not all elements will always be realised and when they are, they do not necessarily occur in the above order. More recent work on narratives (e.g. by Alexandra Georgakopoulou) has shifted the focus from stories as a product with formal characteristics to storytelling as a way of creating identities in context.   

Questions: We can broadly distinguish between four types of questions. 

– Open questions leave the person asked free to elaborate as much or little in their answer as they like (e.g. ‘What do you expect from this change in career?’).

– The opposite are closed or yes/no questions (e.g. ‘Are you considering a career change?’). 

– Rhetorical questions are those that preempt their own answers, e.g. ‘Wouldn’t you like a pay rise?’. 

– Tag questions take the form of a statement with a question attached to it. They can facilitate interaction (‘It’s rather more complicated than we thought, isn’t it?’) or challenge the hearer (e.g. ‘You haven’t quite met the sales target though, have you?’). 

Speech acts: see episode 9

Episode 11

Deixis: The various ways on which speakers and writers can use language to point to someone or something. One way of doing so is pronouns, both personal (‘you’,’she’, ‘they’ etc.) and demonstrative (‘this/that’, ‘these/those’). Another way is by adverbials of space and time, e.g. ‘over there’, ‘back then’. People, things, ideas and events can thereby be constructed as more or less close to (proximal) or distant from (distal) the speaker or writer, who is at the deictic centre.

Episode 10

Double voicing: see episode 8

Modality: In particular, epistemic modality, i.e. using language to express how likely it is that something was, is or will be the case. In English, this is typically done with modal verbs (e.g. ‘may’, ‘might’), but also through adjectives (e.g. ‘likely’), adverbs (e.g. ‘possibly’) or nouns (‘probability’). 

Monoglossic: A text is said to be monoglossic when it represents only one voice. The opposite, i.e. a text representing many different voices, is known as heteroglossic. 

Pronouns: Pronouns are parts of speech that stand in for a noun; for example, the pronoun ‘she’ can refer to a particular person who was mentioned earlier in a conversation or who is visible to both the speaker and the hearer. We can distinguish between personal pronouns (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘she, he, it, ’‘we’, ‘they’), possessive pronouns (‘mine’, ‘yours’ etc.) and demonstrative pronouns (‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’, ‘those’).  

Episode 9

Hyperbole: Exaggeration in language,e .g. through using lots of intensifiers (‘really incredibly bad’), high-impact words (‘fanatical about customer service’) or often absurd numbers (‘with you 1000% percent’, ‘a gazillion problems’)

Speech acts: Speech act theory covers the form and function, intention and effect of an utterance. Speech acts can be performative, i.e. by saying something, the speaker actually carries out the action (e.g. saying ‘I promise to be back by 3pm’ enacts the promise). The form and function of an utterance can be the same, e.g. using questions to ask about something, or they can diverge, in which case we talk about indirect speech acts. An example of the latter is using questions as a polite way to make a request without sounding too imposing (‘Could I just borrow your pen?’). Finally, what the speaker says is known as locution, what they intend to do with their utterance is called illocutionary force, and the effect it has on the hearer is referred to as perlocutionary effect. Intention and effect may not be the same; for instance, the utterance ‘I’ll be back’ can be intended as a promise but be understood as a warning.. 

Episode 8

Communities of practice: Originally developed by Jean lave and Etienne Wenger in 1991, the notion of a community of practice has been taken up and used widely in sociolinguistics as well. It is defined as a group of people who regularly come together to work towards a mutually negotiated aim and, as they do so, develop norms of interaction, including approved ways of how to communicate and use language. 

Discourse marker:  A word or short phrase that signals a transition to another part of a conversation. Examples are ‘so’, ‘okay then’ or ‘moving on’. 

Double-voicing: Drawing on a concept by Mikhail Bakhtin, Judith Baxter defined double-voicing in the workplace as speakers simultaneously expressing their own standpoint while also expressing that of others.

Illocutionary force: According to speech act theory, every utterance has three aspects: locutionary content or what is said, illocutionary force or what effect the speaker wants an utterance to have, and perlocutionary effect or the effect that the utterance actually has on the hearer.  Examples of illocutionary force are warnings, promises or advice.

Episode 7

Deontic modality: The use of language to express obligation, permission or prohibition. In English, this is typically done with modal verbs (e.g. ‘should’, ‘have to’), but also through adjectives (e.g. ‘compulsory’), adverbs (e.g. ‘obligatorily’) or nouns (e.g. ‘duty’).

Epistemic modality: The use of language to express how likely it is that something was, is or will be the case. In English, this is typically done with modal verbs (e.g. ‘may’, ‘might’), but also through adjectives (e.g. ‘likely’), adverbs (e.g. ‘possibly’) or nouns (‘probability’).

Open questions: Questions that leave the person asked free to elaborate as much or little in their answer as they like (e.g. ‘What do you expect from this change in career?’). Opposite of yes/no questions (e.g. ‘Are you considering a career change?’).

Parataxis: A series of sentences with only main clauses, e.g. ‘I went home after work. I had managed to tick off all items on my to-do-list. My partner had made lasagna.’ Opposite of hypotaxis, which is a sentence with main and sub-clauses, e.g. ‘After managing to tick off all items on my to-do list, I went home from work to find that my partner had made lasagna.’

Rhetorical questions: Questions that preempt their own answers, e.g. ‘Wouldn’t you like a pay rise?’.

Episode 6

Image Repair Theory (IRT): a rhetorical theory developed by W. L. Benoit. It focuses on how and why individuals and organisations defend their reputation. IRT focuses on ‘image repair strategies’ individuals or organisations use when they are accused of wrongdoing. 

Lingua Franca: see episode 3

Evaluative language: as our guest, Dr Fuoli explains, this is a broad umbrella term for language that is used to convey a positive or a negative subjective opinion. 

Trust/worthiness: we discuss a model of trust in the podcast, which is based on Mayer et al.’s (1995)  work. This model identifies competence, integrity and benevolence as key factors influencing individuals’ perceptions of others’ trustworthiness. Source: Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709-734.

Episode 5

Audiences: Going back to Alan Bell’s 1984 paper ‘Language style as audience design’, published in the journal Language in Society (volume 13, issue 2, pages 145-204), we can distinguish four different kinds of recipients of a message: 

Addressee – recipients who are known, ratified, and addressed, e.g. a company tagged and addressed in a tweet by a customer

Auditor: recipients  who are not directly addressed, but are known and ratified, e.g. the person running the company’s Twitter account

Overhearer: recipients of whom the text producer is aware, e.g. followers on Twitter

Eavesdropper: non-ratified recipients  of whom the text producer is unaware, e.g. podcast hosts analysing the customer’s tweet in an episode

Context collapse: The phenomenon in online communication whereby a message can be read by people that the person posting it knows from many different contexts, e.g. family, friends, colleagues.  

Episode 4

Agentless passive: A grammatical construction that only mentions the object or goal of an action and the action itself, but eliminates the subject or actor. For example, ‘Additional security measures have been put in place’ does not mention who put those measures in place.

L1, L2: Short for first and second language, i.e. the language that someone learned as a child (mother tongue, native language) and one that they acquired later in life.

Lingua franca: Latin for ‘free language’. A language that speakers use to communicate although it is not their mother tongue or → L1. For instance, Bernard, Erika and Veronika are native speakers of Dutch, Hungarian and German, respectively, but we don’t know each other’s languages, so we use English with each other – including in this podcast of course!

Phatic communication: Often very conventional phrases that are not meant to convey or obtain information but have a social function, e.g. greetings (‘How are you?’) or well wishes (‘Have a nice day’).

Pragmatic affordances: The functions that speakers and writers can realise when using language in a particular context. For example, depending on context and participants, jokes allow speakers to diffuse tension in a conversation or disparage someone else. Emojis or emoticons such as 😉 and acronyms (e.g. LOL) are often used for their pragmatic affordance to mitigate the force of a request or a criticism.

Prosody: Elements of spoken language that are not individual sounds but qualities of a shorter or longer unit of speech. Prosodic elements include stress, rhythm, pitch and volume.

Episode 3

Sound symbolism: The idea that certain sounds communicate meaning and evoke associations. For example, vowels formed at the front of the mouth, like “i”, are often associated with small, spiky things, whereas so-called back vowels, like “o”, conjure up the image of large, round objects. Sound symbolism is widely used not only in poetry but also in brand names.

Lingua franca: Latin for ‘free language’. A language that speakers use to communicate although it is not their mother tongue. For instance, Benard, Erika and Veronika are native speakers of Dutch, Hungarian and German, respectively, but we don’t know each other’s languages, so use English with each other – and in this podcast of course!

Episode 2

Conduit model: A model of communication that was first proposed by Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver in 1949. (It is also known as the Shannon-Weaver model.) Shannon and Weaver were engineers and developed their model for radio and phone technology. In simple terms, the model includes a sender who produces a message (e.g.a speaker), a transmitter encoding the message (in spoken communication, the same as the speaker), a channel to send the message (e.g. a website) and a receiver who decodes the message (e.g. reader). The conduit model assumes a linear flow of information and does not account for any contextual factors. It has therefore been recognised as unsuitable to describe and explain human communication.

Fordism: Named after the Ford automotive company, Fordism denotes an approach to management in manufacturing that is characterised by synchronisation, specialisation and precision. The Ford company was among the first to introduce assembly lines and split up the manufacturing process into a number of steps carried out by individual workers to increase efficiency. The term was first used by Marxist political theorist Antonio Gramsci in 1934 and is linked to Frederick Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management (1911).

Greenwashing: Attempts by companies to build a brand image of themselves as sustainable and environmentally friendly, when their practices are not. The term comes from ‘whitewashing’, i.e. trying to appear innocent when not, and has been extended to ‘pinkwashing’, for attempts to appear women- or LGBT-friendly, and ‘blackwashing’, to describe the phenomenon of a few senior positions held by token non-white people to appear ethnically diverse.

Interdiscursivity: the mixing of typical features from various text types and discourses. The purpose can be to persuade (e.g. using scientific language in cosmetics advertising) or to get attention (e.g. making an advertisement look like a till receipt). Interdiscursivity is not always used to deliberately though and can then indicate some social change that is underway (e.g. a high-ranking police officer referring to members of the general public as ‘customers’).

Episode 1

Corpus linguistics: A branch of linguistics where research use computer software to analyse large bodies (Latin ‘corpora’, singular ‘corpus’) of texts to see, for example, what words are particularly frequent, what words co-occur with each other (collocation) and what words, word classes or semantic fields are over/underused with statistical significance (keywords, key parts of speech or key domains). Corpus linguistic research has been done on the grammars of the world’s languages, on the language use of learners of a language, on language variation and change, on the language of Shakespeare and many other areas.   

Face-threatening act: In linguistic politeness theory, any utterance that can potentially damage someone else’s or the speaker’s wish to be appreciated and valued (called, somewhat confusingly, ‘positive face’) or their wish to be unhindered in doing what they want at the time they want to do it (so-called ‘negative face’). Speakers use a number of strategies to mitigate face-threatening acts and preserve social harmony. 

Lingua franca: Latin for ‘free language’. A language that speakers use to communicate although it is not their mother tongue. For instance, Bernard, Erika and Veronika are native speakers of Dutch, Hungarian and German, respectively, but we don’t know each other’s languages, so use English with each other – and in this podcast of course!

Modal verbs: One way of expressing either a degree of certainty that something was, is or will be the case (so-called epistemic modality) or to convey a more or less strong obligation on someone (known as deontic modality). Examples of epistemic modal verbs are ‘I may/might be able to type up the notes in time’, while deontic modality is illustrated by ‘I really need to type up the notes in time’.