Digital language and communication

Tagg, Caroline (2024). Digital language and communication. In: Wei, Li; Hua, Zhu and Simpson, James eds. The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics, Second Edition, Volume 2. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 68–80.



This chapter explores the contributions of applied linguistics to understanding mediated language and communication in the digital age whilst also highlighting the ways in which new media communication has informed and shaped thinking within applied linguistics. Taking a historical perspective, it traces the complex relationship between technological change and theoretical shifts in applied linguistics from the late 20th century to the present day, identifying and exploring the critical issues of context, the discursive construction of identity, and the multimodal nature of contemporary communication. Current contributions to debates around these issues highlight the ways in which mediated communication challenges existing ideas within applied linguistics and feeds into emerging lines of thought. In terms of methodology, digital technologies have enabled applied linguists to harness and exploit the opportunities offered by big data (primarily screen-based data) whilst also enabling and enriching ethnographic insights (in research that goes beyond the screen). Future directions for research into mediated language and communication lie in developing a ‘post-digital’ approach within applied linguistics which recognizes that digital technologies are increasingly experienced as an inherent part of human communication, with transformative implications for all areas of applied linguistics.

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