Research interests

The following four perspectives on language have particularly engaged me:


1. Pragmatics

Following IPrA's definition of pragmatics, I include in the notion "pragmatics" anything having to do with how language functions, how language is used - in speech, in writing, signed, or electronically. Pragmatics thus, for me, includes text linguistics, discourse analysis and media analysis, as well as studies of genres, of the use of pragmatic particles, and information structuring devices.


2. Grammar

Grammar is the resource we have, and what we have access to when we communicate. Grammar thus, for me, includes all the systematic aspects that we find in language structure, from phonology and prosody through syntax, semantics, and discourse. In the early 1980s, as a student of Chuck Fillmore in Berkeley, I got acquainted with construction grammar and found that to be the most versatile and best working model to work with. I have further developed this into what I call "construction discourse".


3. Variability

To balance up the seeming static characteristics of grammar, we need a variability force that lets us be dynamic and adaptable to different kinds of communicative situations. In my work on this aspect of language, I have dealt with (present-day) language contact, with minority languages, with dialects - and their relation to standards and majority languages. A crucial ingredient here is identity - and the challenges of how to define it.


4. Applied linguistics

I want to believe that my research has practical implications, and that language is a key feature of culture. Within this perspective I have in particular been interested in language policy, in all aspects having to do with the sociology of language, and ultimately, with questions of ideology and responsibility.

My list of publications contains both a general list of everything I have published, and a set of shorter lists where I have categorized my publications under headings that correspond, roughly, to my research interests as spelled out here.


This research folder has two subfolders, one detailing the different projects I have been involved in, the other giving an overview of the kinds of fieldwork I have conducted or been part of over the years.

Jan-Ola Östman

© Jan-Ola Östman 2017