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Department of Linguistics

CLSL research

Research Contexts

The Centre for Language in Social Life conducts projects across a wide range of research contexts. Together, these contexts form a web of domains of social life where language is a crucial mode of action and reflection. These research contexts are all significant for the development and flourishing of individuals and social groups; they are often ones in which there is a need to reduce economic and social disadvantage and in which it is possible to collaborate with specialists in relevant professional and public environments. They are all contexts in which language must be reliably modelled in order to answer broader social questions and ultimately achieve social change.

Discourse Modelling

Research projects are chosen that are socially significant and which can, at the same time, reflexively contribute to developing tools for modelling discourse.

In order to account for the specific effects of, and constraints on, language in any one social context, theoretical tools that have been developed from real language in use and tested across a wide range of language situations are required. These enable identification of key discourse patterns and pressures that language users need to be able to manage across the modes of social life. These tools also make it possible to highlight discourse factors that are important for understanding general cultural phenomena across seemingly disparate social contexts.

To this end, the Centre brings together linguistic expertise that can produce systematic accounts at all levels of discourse patterning: from intonation and graphology, through wording and grammar, to consistencies in semantic and generic structures, and the contextual variables of the speech/language situation. The accounts draw on and contribute to the development of a range of theoretical approaches, in particular Systemic Functional Linguistics , Critical Discourse Analysis, Interactional Sociolinguistics, Multimodal Discourse Analysis & Construction, and Stylistics . Within each of these frameworks, a distinctive feature of the Centre's work is its focus on corpus methods and computational tools.

Consultancy Work

The Centre works with practitioners in many professional and clinical areas to explore critically important features of their contexts of communication. In the recent past, practitioners from areas including fuzzy computing, computational linguistics, clinical trials, genetic counselling, palliative care, capital markets and mediation have sought the Centre's expertise in mapping specific aspects of communication and in developing collaborative proposals for changes to existing practices to improve service outcomes. If you are interested in the consultancy work of the Centre please contact the Director Associate Professor David Butt.

Visiting Researcher's Program

The Centre welcomes researchers with interests closely related to its objectives. See the Visiting Researchers' Program Information Sheet and Application Form.

PhD Program

The Centre welcomes students who wish to complete PhDs on topics related to its objectives.

Research Projects

Contact us

Associate Professor David Butt
Phone: +61 2 9850 8793
C5A, Level 5
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