Theory in Applied Linguistics Research: Critical approaches to production, performance and participation. AILA Review, Volume 28
  • ISSN 1461-0213
  • E-ISSN: 1570-5595


This article imagines a tussle between Multimodality, focused on ‘modes’, and Applied Linguistics (AL), based on ‘language’. A Social Semiotic approach to MM treats speech and writing as modes with distinct affordances, and, as all modes, treats them as ‘partial’ means of communication. The implications of partiality confound long-held assumptions of the sufficiency of ‘language’ for all communicational needs: an assumption shared by AL. Given MM’s plurality of modes and the diversity of audiences, design moves into focus, with a shift from competent performance to apt design. Principles of composition — e.g. linearity versus modularity — become crucial, raising the question at the heart of this paper: how do AL and MM deal with the shape of the contemporary semiotic landscape?


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): affordances; audience; design; linearity; modularity; multimodality; social semiotics; writing
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