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May 1991 - Issue No. #05

What is Applied Linguistics? A Personal View (excerpts)

by Dr. Francisco Gomes de Matos (Universidade Federal de Pernambusco, Brasil)

From "Issues in Applied Linguistics" Vol 1. No 2. p. 159

Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary oriented domain, still too narrowly based and dependent on linguistics, and aimed at a deeper understanding of human linguistic interactions in varied contexts and at exploring ways for helping improve the quality of human communicative growth and development.

What should applied linguistics be? I'd rather use "could" than "should" so as to avoid a possible reading of something imposed, dogmatic, thought to be/expected to be. Applied linguistics could become a field committed and dedicated to an in-depth, open-ended, permanent, universal (rather than predominantly Anglo-American or European-centered) search for an interdisciplinary understanding and/or solution of individual and collective communicative problems in the acquisition, learning and teaching of languages by human beings in varied and variable contexts. Another crucial mission for applied linguistics could be that of helping to contribute to a more critical comprehensive preparation of applied linguistics as new constructors and transformers of sociocultural and political realities through the means of linguistic expression and communication. That so many human beings are being linguistically and culturally undervalued and exploited also merits a high priority attention by applied linguists.

Doing applied linguistics thus calls first and foremost for a strong determination to be at the service of fellow human beings (learners, literates-to-be, persons have speech or reading/writing disorders, language minority students, etc.) so as to help them as language acquirers, learners and users, and especially to enhance a much needed communicative peace at the individual, community and international levels.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
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