BUiD TESOL Open Lecture Series- Tuesday 24th September 2013

Dr Caroline Tagg– 5pm – 6pm

Metonymy in text messaging

Text messaging is a new yet in some ways clearly definable register, characterised by short message length, informal communicative functions, and unconventional linguistic forms. We all know a text message when we see one:

Yeah had a fab time! Want to meet for a coffee some time this week? Hope you are well x

In my talk, I want to look at texting from a new angle by exploring an aspect of language which remains under-researched in studies of naturally occurring language data – that of metonymy. Metonymy is often defined as the act of describing something in terms of something else but, unlike metaphor, the target and vehicle are both drawn form the same domains. One common form of metonymy occurs where a part stands for a whole (the Crown meaning the monarchy) or the whole for a part (UK standing for a person or company in the UK in the utterance, ‘I’ve got the UK on the phone’. In the above text message, metonymy can be found in the reference to ‘a coffee’, which firstly stands for any soft drink; and secondly for something more than just a drink: a chat, a social occasion, the chance to relax.

In the talk I draw on examples from a corpus of text messages sent by British texters aged between 18 and 65, in the period between 2004 and 2007 in order to a) challenge assumptions in the literature about metonymy, which are largely drawn on intuition rather than naturally-occurring data; and b) to explore what metonymy can tell us about text messaging. As well as conventional metonymies exemplified by the ‘coffee’ example above, my corpus is also characterised by more creative and original examples which point to another aspect of texting. My study highlights the importance of empirical research for challenging academic assumptions about metonymy and for creating a more nuanced picture of this emerging, dynamic register.


Caroline Tagg is Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests are in language and creativity, and in the application of corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to the investigation of electronic interaction. She is author of The Discourse of Text Messaging (2012, Continuum), and co-editor of The Politics of English: Conflict, Competition, Co-existence (2012, Routledge, with Ann Hewings), and has published articles in journals such as Applied Linguistics, the Journal of Sociolinguistics, and Writing Systems Research.

Dr Caroline Tagg
English Language and Linguistics Division Department of English University of Birmingham Birmingham United Kingdom
B15 2TT

Professor Richard Kiely: 6.15 – 7.15pm

Beyond application: enhancing English language teaching

This talk traces some key strands of development in English language teaching (ELT) over recent decades. It starts with the shift in the 1960s and 1970s from a craft-based training approach to an applied science model. It documents some weaknesses that have become apparent in that approach, and the responses to these which draw on reflective practice, communities of practice theory, and apprenticeship interaction models, all arguably within the ever-broadening sociocultural theory of learning.
I draw on my own research to illustrate how these shifts have been understood in curriculum terms, and how they point to further developments in ELT. The InSITE study into the learning of experienced English language teachers illustrates how a craft model of teaching balances the social and the instructional in the teacher’s work, and provides a means for understanding the complex weave of quality in the work of experienced teachers.
This lecture will conclude by exploring some wider lessons for the development of the ELT curriculum – lessons for both teachers and teacher educators, in terms of how they might engineer rich learning experiences within classrooms and training contexts, and guidance for programme leaders and policy-makers on the social and professional context which best supports ongoing teacher learning.

Richard Kiely is a Professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Education. He has a PhD in language programme evaluation from the University of Warwick; an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Essex; and a BA in French and English from the National University of Ireland at Cork. His research interests include second language teacher learning, language programme evaluation, and innovation in language teaching contexts.
Previously he has worked in the Centre for International Language Teacher Education (CILTE) at the University of St Mark and St John, in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, at University College Chichester, and at the University of West London in the UK. He also has extensive experience as a teacher, teacher-trainer and curriculum developer in English as a second language contexts: Poland, Hungary, Mexico, South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Zambia.
He has carried out research and supervised PhDs in programme, classroom, and teacher based research themes. He has published in a range of journals (TESOL Quarterly, Language Teacher Research, Modern Languages Journal, ELT Journal, Language Awareness, Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, etc.) and is the author (with Matt Davis and Eunice Wheeler) of Investigating Critical Learning Episodes (2010) and (with Pauline Rea-Dickins) of Programme Evaluation in Language Education (2005).


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