The Business of Words : Wordsmiths, Linguists, and Other Language Workers book cover
1st Edition

The Business of Words
Wordsmiths, Linguists, and Other Language Workers

Edited By

Crispin Thurlow

ISBN 9781138485266
Published August 12, 2019 by Routledge
222 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The Business of Words examines the practices of ‘high-end’ language workers or wordsmiths where we find words being professionally designed, institutionally managed, and, inevitably, objectified for status and profit.

Aligned with existing work on language and political economy in critical sociolinguistics and discourse studies, the volume offers a novel, complementary insight into the relatively elite practices of language workers such as advertisers, dialect coaches, publishers, judges, translators, public relations officers, fine artists, journalists, and linguists themselves. In fact, the book considers what academics might learn about language from other wordsmiths, opening a space for ‘dialogue’ between those researching language and those who also stake a claim to linguistic expertise and a way with words.

Bringing together an array of leading international scholars from the cognate fields of discourse studies, sociolinguistics, and linguistic anthropology, this book is an essential resource for researchers, advanced undergraduate, and postgraduate students of English language, linguistics and applied linguistics, communication and media studies, and anthropology.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Chapter 1 – Crispin Thurlow

The (Grubby) Business of Words: What ‘George Clooney’ Tells Us

Part 1: Language Work and the Business of Words

Chapter 2 – Alexandre Duchêne

Unequal Language Work(ers) in the Business of Words

Chapter 3 – Helen Kelly-Holmes

The Linguistic Business of Marketing

Part 2: Wordsmiths and Professional Language Work

Chapter 4 – Geert Jacobs

Unwriteable Discourse? Co-crafting the Language of Science News

Chapter 5 – Crispin Thurlow and David Britain

Voice Work: Learning About and From Dialect Coaches

Chapter 6 – Adam Jaworski

EAT, LOVE and Other (Small) Stories: Tellability and Multimodality in Robert Indiana’s Word Art

Chapter 7 – Bronwen Innes

Judges as Wordsmiths: Crafting Clarity and Neutrality in Summing-up for Juries

Chapter 8 – Jamie Moshin and Crispin Thurlow

Making (up) the News: The Artful Language Work of Journalists in ‘Reporting’ Taboo

Part 3: Linguists and Political Economies of Expertise

Chapter 9 – Alexandra Jaffe

Framing Elite Knowledge in Shifting Linguistic Economies: The Case of Minority Language Translation

Chapter 10 – Felictas Macgilchrist

Beyond the Academic ‘But’: The Pleasures and Politics of Collaborative Language Work in the Publishing Industry

Chapter 11 – Enam Al Wer & Maria Fanis

The Commercialisation of Linguistic Expertise in the Asylum Vetting Process

Chapter 12 – Elana Shohamy

Engaging with School Principals as Language Policy Workers


View More



Crispin Thurlow is Professor of Language and Communication in the Department of English at the University of Bern, Switzerland.


‘In 1956, the French philologist Marcel Cohen suggested that language practices could usefully be understood as a form of work. Finally, decades later, we have a volume which takes up this idea seriously, exploring what language work/language as work tells us about questions of value, the social construction of reality, and social inequality in contemporary conditions. You won’t look at a keyboard – or a pen – the same way after you have read this book.’
Monica Heller, Editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics

‘This pioneering volume on the production of high-end wordsmithery explores previously unengaged aspects of the political economy of language. In detailed examinations of the work of journalists, PR writers, marketers, linguists, and others, we see their word-craft in ways that clarify their critical and often invisible roles as semiotic brokers.’
Bonnie Urciuoli, Hamilton College (Emeritus), USA