The Linguist

The Linguist 60,3 - June/July 2021

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 17 of 35

18 The Linguist Vol/60 No/3 2021 Mariana Roccia argues that linguists should incorporate ecolinguistics into their work, and suggests where to start L ong before Covid-19, the world was already facing a global crisis. Environmental concerns have been in the public sphere for a while, but only in recent years has talk about sustainability officially permeated the agenda of leaders around the world. Yet talking about environmental problems, such as climate change, is extremely problematic. Firstly, there is the issue of the scale: climate change affects us all differently, making it hard to grasp how collective actions play a role, for better or for worse. As cognitive scholar George Lakoff points out, 1 we may still lack the mental frames that allow us to understand the magnitude of the problem. Secondly, clearly defining what is and isn't an environmental problem is vital. The truth is that every decision we make – from what we eat to what we wear – will certainly have an impact on the planet, and may very well fall into the category of an environmental problem in the long run. In this sense, the relatively young field of ecolinguistics can offer some useful insights on the role of language in reframing our connection with the natural world. Ecolinguistics draws on discourse analysis and cognitive theories to produce a critical linguistic framework whereby harmful discourses can be revealed and resisted. At the same time, it searches for inspiring sources that help us to rethink what a more ecologically just society would look like. This involves taking a linguistic activist role in our daily lives by challenging those discourses that do not resonate with our ecosophy – the set of ecological principles and values we pursue as individuals. 2 Ecolinguistics dates back to the 1960s when American scholars first used the term to draw connections between language and ecology, particularly in connection to endangered languages, multilingualism and language contact. However, it was not until the 1990s that the term began to be used more widely to explore the role of language in the interactions of humans within wider ecosystems, not only in their social context. Although ecolinguistics can be more visibly applied in educational and corporate settings, it can also be extended to a variety of professional contexts where language is directly involved, such as copywriting, translation, content writing and editing. For instance, when faced with an advertising campaign that encourages people to consume genetically modified foods, content writers can use ecolinguistic techniques to reveal why this should be resisted. This might involve showing the relevant stakeholders linguistic evidence, such as how facts, events and participants are represented, in order to reveal how the campaign promotes an activity that is harmful to health and the environment. To tackle environmental problems effectively, it is crucial to transcend the world of academia, and more efforts are needed to make knowledge accessible to everyone. The THE BIOSPHERE The International Ecolinguistics Association focuses on "language and the life- sustaining interactions of humans, other species and the physical environment". Our interactions with bees and frogs (above) are key examples A GREEN APPROACH

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 60,3 - June/July 2021