Communicating in English: talk, text, technology

Bibliographic details

Allington, D. and Mayor, B. (eds.) (2012a) Communicating in English: talk, text, technology. London: Routledge. 385pp.

Extract in lieu of abstract

This is a book about the relationship between communication, technology and the English language. It is often remarked that language and communication have been transformed in the digital age. But new communications technologies do not force people to communicate in particular ways: they simply provide their users with possibilities that they may or may not take up. There is thus continuity as well as change, and this book is able to draw on decades of scholarship while simultaneously keeping up with the cutting edge of research.

The focus throughout is on people communicating. This means that the contributors to this book discuss neither language nor communication in the abstract. When we use language to communicate, it is never language in general that we use, but always a specific language or language variety: one that may have an association with a particular community, with high or low social status, with work, with education, and so on. English has a unique place in the contemporary world – both as an official language of many countries and as the most widely used international language for business, trade, diplomacy and the mass media – and this must be remembered in any account of how it is used.

Allington and Mayor 2012b, p. 1

Back cover blurb

Communicating in English: Talk, Text, Technology looks at how people use spoken and written English to communicate in their everyday lives.

Exploring the complex relationship between communication, technology and the English language, this book offers the reader practical insights into the analysis of speech and writing. A wide range of examples is provided, ranging from text messages and domestic quarrels to the works of Shakespeare and the words of Martin Luther King.

This book takes a fresh look at established topics such as rhetoric, language acquisition, and professional communication, as well as covering exciting new fields such as everyday creativity, digital media, and the history of the book. Key theoretical concepts are introduced in an accessible manner, and the reader is given an in-depth understanding of English-language communication in its social and historical contexts.

Drawing on the latest research and on the Open University’s experience of producing accessible and innovative texts, this book:

  • explains basic concepts and assumes no previous study of English studies, communication studies or linguistics
  • features a range of source material and commissioned readings to supplement chapters
  • includes contributions from leading experts in their fields, including Naomi Baron, Deborah Cameron, Guy Cook, Janet Holmes and Almut Koester
  • has a truly international scope, encompassing examples and case studies from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia
  • is illustrated in full colour and includes a comprehensive index.

Communicating in English: Talk, Text, Technology is essential reading for all students of English language studies or communication studies.


Daniel Allington and Barbara Mayor, ‘General introduction’, pp. 1-3

1. Barbara Mayor and Daniel Allington, ‘Talking in English’, pp. 5-33

a. Harvey Sacks, ‘Rules of conversational sequence’, pp. 34-39
b. Diana Eades, ‘Communicative strategies in Aboriginal English’, pp. 40-45

2. Daniel Allington and Ann Hewings, ‘Reading and writing in English’, pp. 47-76

a. Laurie McNeill, ‘Genre under construction: the diary on the internet’, pp. 77-83
b. Julia Gillen and Nigel Hall, ‘The Edwardian postcard’, pp. 83-89

3. Barbara Mayor, ‘Growing up with English’, pp. 91-119

a. J. Richard Hanley, ‘English is a difficult writing system for children to learn’, pp. 120-127
b. Charmian Kenner, ‘Young children learning different writing systems’, pp. 127-134

4. Almut Koester, ‘Working in English’, pp. 135-163

a. Thomas A. Markus and Deborah Cameron, ‘The discourse of architecture’, pp. 164-170
b. Janet Holmes and Maria Stubbe, ‘Humour and workplace culture’, pp. 171-178

5. Joan Swann, ‘Everyday creativity in English’, pp. 179-208

a. Janet Maybin, ‘Penfriend poetics’, pp. 209-216
b. Ana Deumert, ‘TXTPL@Y. Creativity in South African digital writing’, pp. 216-223

6. Guy Cook, ‘Persuasion in English’, pp. 225-252

a. Jula Sen, Rahul Sharma, and Anima Chakraverty, ‘ “The light has gone out”: Indian traditions in English rhetoric’, pp. 253-261
b. Deborah Cameron, ‘Forcing a smile: customer care and “superior service”’, pp. 261-266

7. Daniel Allington, ‘Material English’, pp. 267-292

a. Brian Weinstein, ‘Noah Webster and the diffusion of linguistic innovations for political purposes’, pp. 293-299
b. Archie L. Dick, ‘ “Blood from stones”: censorship and the reading practices of South African political prisoners, 1960-1990’, pp. 299-305

8. Caroline Tagg, ‘Digital English’, pp. 307-335

a. Naomi Baron, ‘Under the microscope: facets of modern written culture’, pp. 336-341
b. David Barton, ‘Researching language practices on a photo-sharing website’, pp. 342-347

Publisher’s website


Allington, Daniel and Mayor, Barbara (2012b). ‘General introduction’. In: Allington, Daniel and Mayor, Barbara (eds). Communicating in English: talk, text, technology. London: Routledge. pp. 1-3.