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Plenary Speakers

BAAL 2014 will have two plenary speakers on the conference theme

Suresh Canagarajah


Pennsylvania State University, USA

Working, Communicating, and Learning in the Transnational Workplace

In this presentation, I provide examples from my research with highly skilled migrants in English-dominant countries to demonstrate how they strategically use their local languages and English varieties in the transnational workplace. Such plurilingualism is possible because the global professional context is not homogeneous, constituting only native English speakers, even in traditionally English-dominant countries like UK, USA, or Australia. The global workplace is multinational and, therefore, plurilingual. There is evidence that even native English speakers in host communities are becoming comfortable with a linguistically plural workplace, prepared to negotiate different English dialects and diverse languages with their transnational colleagues. Such a practice goes against policy discourses that emphasize that skilled migrants must speak a single language (English) or a single variety of English (i.e., British or American English) for communicative and professional success. Skilled migrants seem to bring certain tacit skills that enable them to negotiate their difference effectively and resolve their identity conflicts. While the focus of policy makers in education, migration, and labor is on credentialized skills, we need to appreciate the tacit skills, dispositions, and values skilled migrants bring to the global workplace to facilitate language learning, knowledge circulation, and material development.

Michael Haugh


Griffith University, Australia

Teasing in interaction: jocular mockery, barbs and banter

Teasing in everyday interactions, which combines elements of (ostensible) provocation and (ostensible) playfulness in a figurative cutting down or diminishment of a target, has been the subject of a growing body of studies. However, what has arguably not been as well studied to date is the interactional mechanics underpinning the different kinds of social actions through which so-called “teasing” is accomplished, and whether these might be modulated or torqued across cultures. In this presentation, building on methodological and analytical insights from interactional and corpus-assisted pragmatics (Haugh 2012, 2014), we first examine how teasing as mocking/ridiculing can be accomplished in a jocular or non-serious frame, or what is termed “jocular mockery” (Haugh 2010), before moving to briefly consider how ambivalently non-serious denigrating/deriding can be accomplished in the form of “barbs”. We then focus on how both these social actions may in some instances occasion (extended) sequences of “banter”, not only across different varieties of English, but also across other languages. The various ways in which different kinds of “serious” interactional work can be accomplished in “unofficial” ways through ostensibly or ambivalently non-serious instances of jocular mockery, barbs and banter, and the implications of this for interactions across cultures, are also discussed.