Category Archives: Applied linguistics

How language shapes the way we work?

Photo of David Shankbone.

Photo of David Shankbone.

In a recent commentary, industry magnate Richard Branson said: “I am a big believer in the power of language to change the world. The way we communicate, whether verbally, digitally or physically, has a massive effect on how we work, live and learn.” He talks about his fascination with words: the way they could mean many things for many people, the way they come to exist and how they “define” our mood.

Indeed, words affect our mood — and much more: our ability to recall past events, our behaviour and our opinion, too.  They can even implant false memories! In the famous Loftus-Palmer experiment researchers have shown a group of students short films of traffic accidents. The students were then asked a question where the verb was manipulated: “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed / collided / bumped / hit / contacted each other?” The research has shown that the estimated speed of the cars was greatly affected by the verb used in the question. In the follow-up experiment, where the students were exposed to manipulated questions, those who were asked “How fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?” were much more likely to recall seeing broken glass then those whose question contained the word hit. Continue reading

Why Every Company Needs a Good Applied Linguist

Dr OrrGuest post by Thomas Orr, BS MA MA PhD, the owner of ThomasOrrConsulting, LLC, which specializes in advanced English language and professional development training and consulting for individuals and organizations globally.


“Applied linguistics is a broad, interdisciplinary field that investigates how language is used, learned and applied in the real world to solve language-centered problems and engage in language-centered work. Its value to companies (as well as to professionals and professions) is that all of their activities require superior thought and communication to achieve impressive results. The language of thoughts, words, numbers, symbols, and images is essential for meetings and projects, for vision and strategies, and for planning and implementation. Language builds brands, generates sales, and creates new technologies. Written language is used for contracts, technical documents, and email. Spoken language is used for sales calls, presentations, and negotiations. And a healthy combination of both is used for analyses, findings, and solutions. Language builds relationships, trust, and cooperation, and is essential for leadership and management. No business can expect extraordinary success without skillful use of language by every person in the organization.

Skillful language use requires expertise in thinking, perspective, and application. It requires mature attitudes and appropriate supporting behavior. Good applied linguists can study the flow of language throughout an organization and analyze its spoken and written artifacts to see if they are successfully accomplishing their aims. They can then offer recommendations for language improvement and its required training or modification. Data on a company’s revenues and profits won’t reveal all that is important to know.

Good applied linguists can prove to be especially valuable when the language or languages of a company are not spoken proficiently by all of its leaders, employees or customers. Few other consultants can study a company’s challenges at the level of depth and breadth that a good applied linguist can and then help companies create strategies, plans, and implementations to successfully resolve their problems. Trying to solve an organization’s challenges without addressing the language at the core seldom works.”