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Are we making a difference?: on the social responsibility and impact of the linguist/applied linguist in Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 03.05.2017, 01:44 by Clyne, Michael
Language is crucial in our lives and to all disciplines. It affects our well-being individually and collectively and touches important sociopolitical issues. Linguists/applied linguists have exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary research and to work in contexts personally meaningful to them. While language is the concern of all people, professionals have special responsibilities to provide leadership in understanding how it works and responsible insights into the uses and abuses of language in society.Australian language specialists can offer the rest of the world experience with language policy, typological and language contact studies, and bilingual language acquisition. Some Australians have advanced linguistic knowledge through studies of indigenous languages. Many have worked with indigenous, ethnic and other communities and professional groups, providing evidence in court or advice to teachers and families. Some broadcast regularly or occasionally. But have we succeeded in contesting the monolingual mindset of the mainstream? The Australian authors represented in language sections of most general bookshops are not linguists.Far more collaboration and coordination of initiatives through the professional societies is needed to put languages back on the national agenda and make Australia more language-aware. This should lead to recognizing, valuing, fostering and transmitting, supporting and sharing our linguistic diversity. Australias rich language potential has only been partly realized. Copyright 2007 Michael Clyne. No part of this article may be reproduced by any means without the written consent of the publisher.


Date originally published



Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 30, no. 1 (2007), p. 3.1-3.14. ISSN 0155-0640