Scottish Graduate School of Social Science

Social and Applied Investigations in Language

Social and Applied Investigations in Language (SAIL) builds on decades of leadership provided by the contributing partners in the fields of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics and discursive psychology. SAIL training prepares students to explore areas as diverse as: the mechanisms and patterns of language variation in communities; the emergence, negotiation and contestation of ideologies and identity-formation in discourse and interaction; and group and individual responses to language use in institutional settings such as education, health and the legal system.

Our knowledge about language involves not only knowing how to put our own utterances together and how to unpack others'. It also, crucially, involves knowing how language serves as a medium for expressing social information. The way we use language in interactions with others contributes to our sense of self and other, our understanding of what is normative and what is trangressive or innovative. Society may pathologise or pass moral and aesthetic judgements on individuals and groups of speakers perceived as innovative or in some sense 'different'. SAIL research explores how such social knowledge interacts in powerful ways to constrain the use of language as part of a linguistic system, and also to constrain language users as part of a social system.

This pathway capitalises on existing strengths and research excellence in the application of linguistic knowledge to social and practical benefit, such as the development of public policy, social justice, and understanding individual behaviour.

ESRC-funded studentships in Social and Applied Investigations in Language are available at the following institutions. Please contact the relevant institutional representative for further information: