The 7th Annual Roundtable of Language and Society Centre

Call for papers for the Language and Society Centre 7th Annual Roundtable

November 19th – 20th, 2015

How cultural context shapes the production and (mis)interpretation of language

The Language and Society Centre (LASC) is pleased to announce that its 7th Annual Roundtable will explore ‘ How cultural context shapes the production and (mis)interpretation of language’. The Roundtable will be held November 19th -20th, 2015 and seeks to assemble scholars concerned with the relationship between cultural context and how language is produced and understood. Abstracts of up to 300 words are invited to be submitted to by the 31st August 2015.

This year we celebrate 50 years of linguistic and applied linguistic scholarship at Monash. Throughout this long history, Monash scholars have been concerned with how context, pragmatics and culture may contribute to a deeper understanding of language in society. Monash linguistics and applied linguistics scholars have been world leaders in the study of semantics and pragmatics, multilingualism, language in the workplace, language change, intercultural communication, and Cultural Linguistics.

As part of this celebration, the 7th Annual LASC Roundtable seeks to assemble scholars concerned with ‘how cultural context shapes the production and (mis)interpretation of language’. This Roundtable will approach the interrelationships between language production, perception and the cultural contexts in which (mis)communication takes place from five theoretical perspectives:

1. Intercultural pragmatics and (mis)understandings across cultures

2. Sociolinguistics: prescriptivism, views on variation, and the evaluation of dialects

3. Recipient design: accommodation and speaking for the hearer

4. Cultural presumptions and speech perception

5. The semantics/pragmatics interface: how context shapes meaning


Allan, K. (2014). Linguistic Meaning (Re-issue). London/New York: Routledge

Babel, M. (2010). Dialect divergence and convergence in New Zealand English. Language in Society, 39(04), 437-456.

Babel, M. (2012). Evidence for phonetic and social selectivity in spontaneous phonetic imitation. Journal of Phonetics, 40(1), 177-189.

Clyne, M. (1994). Inter-cultural Communication at Work: Cultural Values in Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coupland, N. (2007). Style: Language Variation and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holmes, J., Marra, M. & Vine, B. (2011). Leadership, Discourse and Ethnicity. Oxford University Press.

Kecskes, I. (2013). Intercultural Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sharifian, F. (2011) Cultural Conceptualisations and Language: Theoretical Framework and Applications. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Sharifian, F. & Jamarani, M (eds.) (2013). Language and Intercultural Communication in the New Era. New York/London: Routledge.

Keynote Speaker: A/Professor Molly Babel, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Emeritus Keith Allan, Monash University, Australia.

Conference Chair: Dr Alice Gaby, Monash University

Download the flyer for the LASC 7th Annual Roundtable… (PDF)

The Cultural Model of Ageing: The Australian Conceptualisation of the Third Age

Kate Burridge, Farzad Sharifian, Keith Allan, Réka Benczes (2014-2016). Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant. Project title: The Cultural Model of Ageing: The Australian Conceptualisation of the Third Age.


Réka Benczes and Kate Burridge: ‘Current attitudes to ageing as reflected in the names of Australian aged care facilities’

Keith Allan, Réka Benczes, Kate Burridge, Farzad Sharifian: ‘Ageing and Cognitive Linguistics: What Naming Practices Reveal about Underlying Cultural Conceptualisations’. Poster for the 14th International Pragmatics Conference, Antwerp 26-31 July 2015




Current Australian Research Council (ARC) grants

Current and recent ARC-funded projects:

[DP140100353] (2014-1016)

Project title: Improving Communication with Aboriginal English Speakers: A Study of cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English

CI: Prof Farzad Sharifian

The project will explore cultural conceptualisations in Aboriginal English. Often unfamiliarity with Aboriginal cultural conceptualisations on the part of non-Aboriginal people leads to miscommunication, disadvantaging Aboriginal speakers, especially in institutional contexts (for example, schoolrooms, courtrooms, Centrelink offices). The aim of this study is to alleviate such problems, and significantly advance Aboriginal English research, by exploring culturally constructed conceptualisations, in particularly cultural-conceptual metaphor, underlying the use of Aboriginal English, using the the analytical tools of Cultural Linguistics. The study will also make a significant contribution to the development of Cultural Linguistics.


[DP140102058] (2014-1016)

Project title: The Cultural Model of Ageing: The Australian Conceptualisation of the Third Age

CIs: Prof Kate Burridge; Prof Farzad Sharifian, Prof Keith Allan; Dr Reka Benczes

 Prolonged old age is one of the most significant medical and societal breakthroughs of our time. As countries like Australia prepare themselves for this ‘longevity revolution’, the current research delivers the much-needed linguistic support for this important interdisciplinary area. By exploring the expressions that contemporary Australians use to talk, directly or indirectly, about growing old, the project will reveal how our society now conceptualises a topic so often considered taboo. In addition to scholarly outcomes, this work has a very practical application in the form of information booklets and professional development courses aimed to improve the quality of aged-care services and ultimately the course and outcome of ageing.


[ARC DP120102701] (2012-2014)

Title: Thinking and talking about atolls: the role of environment in shaping language and our understanding of physical space.

 Chief Investigators: Dr Alice Gaby & Dr Bill Palmer

PhDs: Jonathon Lum & Jonathan Schlossberg

 This project investigates the role of environment in shaping how we think about physical space. By comparing how people in the highly specialised environment of the atoll talk about space in different parts of the world we will gather new data to test ideas on the roles of language and environment in shaping how we understand the physical world.


LP110200002 2011-14

Project Title: Acquiring Physical Skills: Exploiting Games Technology to Teach Sign Language

Dr Kirsten Ellis Chief Investigator
Professor Julie Fisher Chief Investigator
Dr Louisa Willoughby Chief Investigator
Professor Nicole Rinehart Chief Investigator

Our research will investigate the potential for using games technology to teach sign language in an engaging interactive form. Human trainers to teach sign language are a scare resource. Technology has not provided a solution to date. Existing technologies can demonstrate physical skills to assist learning but cannot provide feedback which is fundamental for learning sign language. Games technology with new modes of interaction is aware of users’ fine and gross motor movements thus having the potential to recognize and give feedback on a learners actions.

Primary research and supervision areas within the Centre

  • Intercultural communication
  • Multilingualism in Australia
  • Cultural Linguistics
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • English as an International Language
  • Australian English
  • Aboriginal English
  • Language and politics
  • Language and aging
  • Language contact and implications for multilingualism
  • Language shift and implications for bilingualism
  • Language policy
  • Sociolinguistic aspects of second language acquisition
  • Bilingual education in schools
  • Bilingual language acquisition
  • Translation and Interpreting Studies in Multilingual contexts
  • Discourse analysis
  • Pragmatics
  • Medical communication

The Centre is also active in community-based research, working with schools, school systems, and industry.

Some current projects within the Centre

Multilingualism in Australia

This includes large-scale census based and small-scale community and institution based studies comparing language practices and maintenance/shift rates across and between languages, as well as comparative studies of community languages as used in Australia including grammatical change and switching patterns. One new project conducted in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, examines endangered Sudanese languages within Melbourne.

Connecting young second language learners and elderly bilinguals (German, Mandarin, Spanish) ­interconnectedness and social inclusion

This project, conducted in collaboration with MonRAS, focuses on the use of community language resources for second language acquisition. It brings together students at Monash who are studying German, Mandarin and Spanish with older speakers of these languages. Specifically, the project explores student gains in second language acquisition, including conversational management skills, confidence and attitudes, as well as impacting on the self esteem of the older participants giving them a sense of belonging, and an understanding of young people. It is hoped to extend this project to the upper secondary level.

Communicating in English in our multicultural and globalised contexts

This project focuses on communicative styles in English as an International Language, cultural variation in academic and professional discourse, as well as intercultural communication in the medical field, in the workplace, in business communication and during meetings.

Enhancing languages-in-education policies and improved practice in primary, secondary and tertiary programs

This research examines how cognitive benefits can best be achieved in practice. It includes studies of ethnic schools, language learning and online communication, students of different backgrounds, opportunities for second language learning and the use of second languages in social and transactional networks. The project also looks at the acquisition of academic English by international students and the language socialization of second generational students into the Australian academic context.

Dimensions of Australian English

This project explores variation and change in Australian English pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and communicative styles. It examines school, gender, generation, and ethnicity as factors in generating variation. The data is based on Year 10 students across ten Melbourne schools, and includes their families and friends. Rural Australian English is also being examined using a pilot sample from the Western District. Research includes (im)politeness in language, attitudes to language, the discourse of inclusion/exclusion and the discourse of sexuality.

Aboriginal English and its implications for the education of Aboriginal children, intercultural communication, and politics

This research explores the failure of the education system in Australia to improve literacy outcomes for the vast majority of Aboriginal-English speaking students. This is a national issue of the highest priority.

Clash of political discourses

This research program examines the extent to which conflict between different nations is the result of misrepresentations in political discourse.

Cultural conceptualizations of Ageing

A national and international program of research is being conducted to explore concepts such as “successful ageing” in different languages and cultures.

English as an International Language

This research program focuses on a paradigm shift in the field English Language Teaching and the sociolinguistics of English in the light of the globalization and internationalization of the English language.

Intercultural oral examinations in medicine: Understanding the communicative skills of international medical graduates (IMGs) in Australian objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs)

This study analyses the communication skills of IMGs in selected communicative OSCE scenarios designed to replicate Australian Medical Council (AMC) examination standards. Video-recordings of OSCE performances and stimulated recall interviews constitute the corpus of this study. Following a discourse analysis approach, the data is
analysed on both the dimensions of intra-professional and practitioner-client interactions in order to investigate the discourse difficulties experienced by IMGs.

Translation and Interpreting Studies in Multilingual contexts

The following projects are underway which focus on the following: sociolinguistic profiles of professional and lay interpreters (Chaldean-Assyrian-Arabic-English multilinguals from Iraq); translators and interpreters who work in closely-related languages and the phenomenon of accommodation and non-accommodation; multilingual clients and language shifts in interpreting situations; dialect vs. standard language speakers and their use of professional interpreting services.