Linguists and language workers
Collaboration, impact and realignment
Keywords:consulting, communications, impact, language workers, collaboration, knowledge exchange, linguists
In this paper, I address two connected topics: firstly, the relationships between linguists working in academia and language professionals, such as communication managers and consultants, in other sectors; and secondly, how a strong emphasis on knowledge exchange and impact in British higher education policy has led to increased collaboration between academic and non-academic language workers, but also to a realignment of traditional academic values with the interests of practitioners. The investigation is partly based on published reflections – mostly by linguists – on collaborating with (language) professionals in other sectors, and partly on insights from 13 interviews with language workers in consulting, communications and campaigning. The interviews are manually analysed for thematic categories and, where relevant, for pragmatic meanings in the context of the interview situation and conversational interaction. Findings suggest conflicts around registers and timescales, along with concerns over data and the relevance of academic interests. Crucially, language professionals show little concern about collaborating with academics, leading to an imbalance in interests. I supplement the evidence with personal observations on the opportunities and obstacles that are present when straddling academic and non-academic work, as well as with a discussion of how a unidirectional realignment of values changes the nature of academic work.
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