Technology, Ideology and Practice in Applied Linguistics - Revisiting Multimodality
Applied linguistics, in probing into the changing modes of communication, refined the methods of...
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Dr Hayat Al-Khatib
21 June 2010
Applied linguistics, in probing into the changing modes of communication, refined the methods of enquiry to include not only the message and the accompanying ideologies but also the latest perspectives associated with multimodal signaling. The overaching concern that is materializing is the view on the threats posed by technology supported language practices in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) to "standard English".
In trying to capture the distinctive features of multimodal communication, competing theories have enquired, through descriptions of definitions and practices, into the role of technology and ideology in reforming traditional modes of communication (Abbott, 2002; Bruner, 1986; Ryan, 2006, 2001; Prince, 2003 and Labov, 1981, Sacks, 1992). In an ever developing interest in effective modes of communication, the changing landscape of communication is challenging the way we define, understand and use language, e.g. cloudworks (OU, 2010). Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) reveals how the rapid advance of technology is influencing language to develop new forms in communicating and transmitting messages. Communicative technologies give rise to communicative contexts very different from the ‘canonial’ ones. Technology is offering new spatio-temporal relations between speakers and listeners that are reflected in the language forms used. Hence, new threats to old convictions are emerging.
In the visual domain, English is gaining an iconic dimension. Terms like “semiotics’ (Kress, 2003) and “visual grammars” (Halliday, 2002) are introduced to identify new multimodal forms and functions in communication. Halliday analyses language use from a functional perspective. He argues that forms in language develop to serve specific functions and ideologies. Written language, as the bearer and preserver of set conventions banks on fixivity; in comparison CMC supported multimodal exchanges have transient and dynamic forms.
Contemporary analysts of language and communication, in the light of new advances of visual technologies and the novice uses of language in transmitting messages are no longer satisfied with the canonical definitions in relation to perspectives on language. The nationalism which Samuel Johnson had worked for so hard through the standardization of English is now endangered by the English of the Global village. Visual technologies are forcing innovative practices and novel perspectives.
My argument is that the pre-technological canonical concept of language presents one angle of vision that relates to fixivity and set regulations, whereas multimodality brings to language flexibility to convey messages using more than one dimension and opening new horizons of communication. Multimodality is the new hallmark associated with language use in the digital era. Ideological perspectives and culture-specific practices will influence the preferences of language users and offer opportunities for multilayered interpretations of new emerging Englishes.
- 8th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications: EISTA 2010
- AISHE 6th International Conference: 'Designing & Delivering Curricula for the Future'
- Associate Lecturers' National Conference, Making the most of change
- Becta conference Time to Innovate: Maximising value in Further Education and Skills
- Communication Skills
- Critical literacies
- Open University annual Learning and Technology conference: Learning in an open world
- Your Contributions for OU 'Learning in an Open World' conference (22-23 June 2010)
- International Arab Conference of e-Technology (iACET)