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Can Linguistics Change the World?

A few months ago, I was approached by a middle and high school teacher from Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. She had read one of my articles on Scandinavian poetry. “How can this wonderfully beautiful knowledge of language and narrative solve any big problems of the world?” she wrote. In that article on poetry, I did not address such issues, but in my latest publication, I actually do approach them a bit more.

My latest article discusses the manner in which the humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders conceptualizes and values humanitarian aid in webpage texts. I found that the organization conveys a complex image where aid is described as meaningful, necessary and political. From a broader perspective, this instance of how linguistic strategies are used may offer an example for other aid agents in their ambition to influence potential donators

© Elena Di Natale, Doctors Without Borders, Bangladesh, 25 November, 2018, courtsey to Doctors Without Borders

as well as decision-makers. My work is performed within the theoretical framework of Positive Discourse Analysis, aiming at shedding light on groups that are underprivileged, showing good practice, and spread the world to a larger community.

Together with my fellow researchers Theres Bellander, Karin Idevall Hagren and Heli Tissari, I continue to work on texts on aid. Heli Tissari is also a member of MetNetScandinavia, and I have asked her to write the next blog post, to tell us a bit about her work.

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