Introducing Cambridge Elements in Pragmatics

Cambridge Elements in PragmaticsCambridge Elements combine the best features of journals and books.

With a word count between 20,000-30,000 words they lend themselves to the digital and ever changing research environment.

A series coming soon to linguistics is Elements in Pragmatics edited by Jonathan Culpeper, Lancaster University and Michael Haugh, University of Queensland.

Cambridge Extra asked them more about the series.

What motivated you to collate this Elements series?

The format itself is really appealing.

It is longer than typical journal articles but shorter than a monograph, so is ideal for both graduate students and established researchers in the field. It also allows authors to publish their work at its natural length, if an article is too constraining yet a full book is over the horizon.

Its digital format means the series can respond quickly to new research trends, and updates, enabling authors’ work to stay relevant longer, leading to a greater impact. We can also reach readers on different platforms, and support clear display of complex information, data excerpts and figures not necessarily possible in print.

What are the particular characteristics of the series?

This series showcases a cutting-edge and high-quality set of original, concise and accessible scholarly works written for a broader pragmatics readership. We want to move away from niche groups by fostering dialogue across different perspectives on language use.

By aiming for a “broader readership”, our topics themselves will be broad in focus moving away from highly focussed or esoteric topics.

Our aim is for this series to take full advantage of the benefits of online publishing, becoming the place to learn about new and emerging areas in pragmatics, as well as accessing the latest thinking on more long established topics.

The Cambridge Elements series’ differentiate themselves from what you may get in a handbook. We are inviting theoretical consolidations, where we’ve identified a need for a synthesis of the literature on a particular topic. For these syntheses, we are looking forward to working with authors who will produce something original in the course of the synthesis. However, this is only one area of this Elements series. We are also inviting authors to focus on particular approaches to data and methods, as well as identify new topics of interest in pragmatics.

Do you have any sample topics you’d like to include in the series?

We have three initial topic groups for the Pragmatics Elements series – Theoretical Consolidations, Data and Methods and Innovations. These won’t be discrete groups or equal in size – we do think innovations will be popular. Check out the full list here.

What are the typical characteristics of Elements in this series?

Given the scope of the topics there is not one strict list of features for all. Nevertheless, we want elements to be accessible for a broad readership, to make ample use of data, and of course cover key theories, concepts and issues relating to the topic in an original way

Each element within the series will be written by a scholar in their field with specific expertise in the topic in question, and we plan to commission new elements on a rolling basis, meaning we can adapt to new directions in scholarship.

We are looking forward to hearing from authors regardless of their position in their career.

Cambridge Reflections: Covid-19

Reflections of a tree in a puddle

Written by Alex Wright, Senior Executive Publisher and Head of Humanities at Cambridge University Press

The coronavirus and its challenges of immediacy have thrown into sharp relief the apparent disjuncture between intellectual endeavour and what a society goes through in the grip of a pestilence. When the difference between life and death is measured in terms of having enough ventilators in hospitals, or adequate PPE, should we even be talking about characterisation in Shakespeare? It is right to ask such a question, and proper too to give priority to what people need to do to survive the present emergency. But a moment of crisis helps us to see that we live out our lives perpetually threatened by loss; and gives us space too to reflect on the fact that the life of the mind has always attempted not just to make sense of the world but also to make it a better place.

Throughout its long history Cambridge University Press has tried to ask larger questions about meaning and value. Because our publishing has always at its heart been about outreach, and education in the broadest sense, we wish now to make some of our authors’ keenest insights available in the form of short blogs. The aim will be to provide a resource in times of need: crystalline, bite-sized chunks – digestible nuggets of reflection – which can be drawn upon anywhere where someone has access to the internet. Our hope is that this new digital library of concise contemplations will prove diverting and engaging: even consoling. That it will provide, at a critical moment, a reliable repository – gratis, and easily and immediately available – of ‘the best of CUP’.

The collection includes writing from all aspects of humanities and social sciences including linguistics. Explore the collection at

Getting the Right Balance: Pragmatics in Speech and Language Therapy

Pragmatic and Discourse Disorders

Blog post written by Louise Cummings author of Pragmatic and Discourse Disorders.

The clinical education of speech and language therapy (SLT) students in the UK is a tightly regulated process. No less than three bodies have SLT education within their purview. These bodies are the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). Each of these bodies has a particular role to play in SLT education. The RCSLT provides curriculum guidelines and sets good practice guidelines for the education and training of SLTs and for their continuing professional development. The QAA provides subject benchmarks for SLT. These benchmarks stipulate baseline outcomes which a graduate in SLT will have achieved at the time of graduation. The HCPC is the statutory regulatory body for SLTs and other healthcare professionals. It specifies standards of education and training for SLTs among a range of other standards (e.g. standards of conduct, performance and ethics). Linguistics is so integral to SLT education that each of these bodies makes reference to it within their respective requirements for education providers. Within its guidelines for pre-registration SLT courses in the UK, the RCSLT states that:

‘The content of the linguistics and phonetics strand of the curriculum should facilitate an understanding of those concepts and constituents of Linguistics which underpin speech and language therapy theory and practice. The curriculum should address both typical/atypical patterns and processes of linguistics and phonetics. Study in this area must include linguistics (phonetics/phonology, semantics, lexicon, morphology/syntax and pragmatics), psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics and multilingualism’. (2010: 34)

However, when one examines these guidelines in depth, it becomes clear that not all branches of Linguistics are afforded the same significance. The phonetics provision of SLT curricula is specified in considerable detail across the areas of articulatory phonetics, acoustic phonetics, hearing and speech perception. The requirements to provide a clinical education to SLT students in conversation and discourse analysis are addressed within just two bullet points.

Students must have an understanding of:

• Theoretical models and frameworks of conversation and discourse

• Current approaches to analysis of pragmatics, conversation and discourse

It was with a view to redressing this imbalance in the Linguistics education of SLT students that I wrote Pragmatic and Discourse Disorders. This workbook sets out from the position that pragmatic and discourse disorders have been marginalized for too long in the clinical education of SLT students and that it is now time for these disorders to have the same status as speech sound disorders or disorders which affect the syntax and semantics of language (e.g. specific language impairment). There are two reasons why this should be the case. Firstly, it is pragmatic aspects of language which are most closely associated with social communication between speakers and hearers. The importance of social communication to psychological well-being and social functioning is increasingly being recognized. This relationship is acknowledged by the inclusion of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder for the first time in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Secondly, if the ‘development and consolidation of skills in practical phonetics […] entails a considerable investment of time over an extended period’, as the RCSLT guidelines state, then the same is true of skills that are needed to assess pragmatic aspects of language. A workbook which has those skills as its focus is the place to begin that development.


American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Cummings, L. (2015) Pragmatic and Discourse Disorders: A Workbook, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (2010) Guidelines for Pre-Registration Speech and Language Therapy Courses in the UK, London: Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.


The Study of Language by George Yule | 5th Edition

The Study of Language has proven itself to be the student and instructor choice for first courses in language and linguistics because of its accessible approach to, what is often, a complicated subject. In every edition, readers have praised the book for being easy to follow, simple to understand, and fun to read, with its quirky anecdotes and examples of languages from around the world. Now in its fifth edition, it is further strengthened by the addition of new student ‘tasks’ (guiding readers to connect theory to real-world scenarios), including examples from even more foreign languages, and updating the text to reflect the most current linguistic theory. We will also be offering an enriched learning experience with our new enhanced eBook (publishing in Autumn), which will include pop-up glossary terms, embedded audio and interactive questioning. All of these features make this the most student-friendly edition of the textbook yet.


The Study of Language

Paragraph above by Valerie Appleby, Development Editor, Cambridge University Press

Meaning and Humour

A blog by Andrew Goatly

Meaning and Humour

To what extent is humour a liberating force? According to the theory advanced in Meaning and Humour, humour defeats expectations or introduces incongruities. And, linguistically speaking, this can be analysed as an overriding of lexical priming (Hoey), or as surprising foregrounding (Leech). For example, consider this joke:

“Give a man a fish–feed him for a day. Give a man two fish—feed him for two days”.


Internally the second sentence is not foregrounded—it is entirely predictable, to the point of near redundancy. Whereas externally, according to the expectations of this epigrammatic genre, where we anticipate something clever, unpredictable, entropic, the second sentence is foregrounded. The fact that most humour depends upon the overriding of lexical priming or startling departures from discoursal norms would appear to make it a linguistically disruptive or rebellious force. However, humour does little to change priming patterns.One might contrast it with original metaphor in this respect, which can change the lexical meanings of a language more permanently. It is no accident that most metaphorical humour, at least metaphorical punning, depends upon conventional, lexicalised metaphors. For instance:

“You could walk through George W Bush’s deepest thoughts and not get your ankles wet”

This depends upon the conceptual metaphor UNDERSTANDING/INSIGHT IS DEPTH realised in the two meanings of deep.In terms of its social uses and functions humour is also rather ambiguous as a liberating force. On the one hand it can be a tool for rebellion against authority. On the other, it could be regarded as a means of social control, often through embarrassment (Billig). Either way, as well as its uses as a social lubricant, humour can be seen as a weapon.

This example of unintentional humour encapsulates some of these ideas.

Dale Martin, an entertainer, has been ordered by a provincial court judge to avoid making anyone pregnant for the next three years. The order not to impregnate any girls came from Judge Leslie Bewley, who gave Martin a suspended sentence and three years probation for possession of an offensive weapon. (Toronto Globe Tibballs 2006: 490)

In the context of the conceptual metaphor sex is violence and due to the textual priming by “pregnant” we are likely to interpret “weapon” as a sexual metaphor. However, an alternative priming, by the genre of (news reports of) legal judgements, rules out this meaning, and predicts the literal one. By the way, this conceptual metaphor association of sex with violence underlies the theories of humour as both aggressive and sexual (Freud, Koestler, Fonagy). Jokes have “punch” lines, and may “misfire”, as well as being associated with sex. In the Collins Cobuild Wordbanks Online corpus sex is the most common (T-score) collocate of joke, and dirty is the 25th most common.

Andrew Goatly is a professor in the Department of English at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. His new title Meaning and Humour is now available from Cambridge University Press at £22.99 / $35.99