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Words and Actions

Oct 15, 2021

“I’m not hungry. One egg is an oeuf”. Is the author funny? Debatable. Is the author multilingual? Ça dépend. In this multi-voiced episode on multilingualism we tackle different interrelated aspects ranging from translanguaging over accommodation to effectiveness and proficiency and we cast more light on multilingual settings and the role of BELF in them. In the process, we make Bernard eat humble pie by interviewing a very, very multilingual person and we raise multilingual voices to stop cruelty against animals, topped off with nice examples on language accommodation. Bon appétit!
The Words and Actions podcast features and accompanying website, Here we publish a blog post that goes with the podcast, including references to research and a full transcript.  Episode 20 features various researchers who attended the 2021 regional conference (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of the Association for Business Communication, The programme and abstracts are available here

In the introduction, we talk about the notion of translanguaging. The following references are central papers and overviews: 

Bradley, J., Moore, E., & Simpson, J. (2020). Translanguaging as Transformation. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Conteh, J. (2018). Translanguaging. ELT Journal, 72(4), 445-447.

García, O., & Wei, L.. (2014).Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism, and education. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Wei, L. (2018). Translanguaging as a practical theory of language. Applied Linguistics, 39(1), 9-30.

Williams, C. (1996). Secondary education: Teaching in the bilingual situation. In C. Williams, G. Lewis, & C. Baker (eds), The Language Policy: Taking stock. Llangefni: CAI, pp. 39–78

We also talk about communication accommodation theory (CAT) and return to that phenomenon in the analysis part of the episode. Here is a recent overview of the theory: 

Zhang, Y. B., & Giles, H. (2018). Communication accommodation theory. In Y. Y. Kim (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Intercultural Communication (pp. 95-108). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley,pp.  95-108. 

Another concept that is central to this episode is (Business) English as a lingua franca. One scholar who has written prolifically on accommodation in ELF is Jennifer Jenkins, most recently in this publication:

Jenkins, J. (2021). Accommodation in ELF: Where from? Where now? Where next? In Walkinshaw, I. (ed), The Pragmatics of ELF. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. Available here.  

Still in the introduction, Bernard offers a definition of BELF that is based on this paper: 

Louhiala-Salminen, L., Charles, M.,  Kankaanranta, A. (2005). English as a lingua franca in Nordic corporate mergers: Two case companies. English for Specific Purposes, 24, 401-421.

Our interview guest is Gladys Nyarko Ansah, an expert in multilingualism from the University of Ghana. Here are some of her publications, including the one on linguistic landscapes, which she talks about in the interview:

Anderson, J.A., Wiredu, J.F., Ansah, G.N., Frimpong-Kodie, G., Orfson-Offei, E., & Boamah-Boateng, D. (2020). A linguistic landscape of the central business district of Accra. Legon Journal of the Humanities, 31(1), 1-35. 

Afrifa, G.A., Anderson, J.A., & Ansah, G.N. (2019). The choice of English as a home language in urban Ghana. Current Issues in Language Planning, 20(4), 418-434

Ansah, G.N. (2014). Cognitive models of anger in Akan: A conceptual metaphor analysis. Cognitive Linguistic Studies, 1(1), 131-146

In the hosts’ reflection on the interview, Veronika mentions ‘sounds being swapped around’; the technical term for this is metathesis. 

In the analysis , Veronika contributes two examples from this study:
Rogerson-Revell, P. (2010). “Can you spell that for us nonnative speakers?” Accommodation strategies in international business meetings. The Journal of Business Communication, 47(4), 432-454.

Bernard reproduces an example from a talk at the ABC conference, which illustrates productive phonetic accommodation, i.e making the sounds of spoken language more like that of the interlocutor. Receptive phonetic accommodation is often taught as part of listening skills; here are some alien resources for this: 

The Speech Accent Archive (

The English Listening Library Online (

My English Voice (

YouGlish (

Finally, Erika draws on paper by Jane Lockwood and Ying Song:

Lockwood, J., & Song, Y. (2020). Understanding each other: Strategies for accommodation in a virtual business team project based in China. International Journal of Business Communication, 57(1), 113-144. 

The next episode will continue with the theme of different languages, looking at high-stakes translating and interpreting - see you again!