Crispin Thurlow

​Professor (Language and Communication)
Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington, USA

Language Workers of the World, Unite!

As many of our societies turn increasingly from being rooted in manufacture-based economies to those relying more and more on service-based economies, language(and languages) sit powerfully at the heart of our lives and livelihoods. We find more and people doing work – and being trained for work – where word smithery is not only an essential skill for securing work but is also the very product of this work. Something to be bought and sold, something to be controlled and crafted. Needless to say, this kind of “word work” is closely allied to the cultural/political economies of language instruction and, of course, of applied linguistics more generally. In this presentation, I will map out the early stages of a project that aims to get inside the rich, diverse “working life” of language nowadays and to better understand the experiences of a wide range of contemporary language workers. One of the underlying goals of this project is to consider not only new possibilities for scholarly understanding, but also for enhancing scholarly engagements with “non-academic” language workers.

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