Pujolar; O’Rourke (2022) Theorizing the speaker and speakerness in applied linguistics

Pujolar, Joan  O’Rourke, Bernie. (2022). Theorizing the speaker and speakerness in applied linguistics. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 16(2), 207–231. https://doi.org/10.1558/jalpp.22760


In this Forum Discussion paper, we put forward the concept of ‘speakerness’ and discuss how this notion can be of relevance to the professions associated with language teaching and learning. By ‘speakerness’ we understand the processes through which social actors get defined by their language practices. We connect this concept with the ongoing debates around so-called ‘non-native’ speakers of English, which have clear implications for ‘non-native teachers’. We revisit these debates by widening the scope; that is, by making connections with another controversy around speakerness, namely that around the so-called ‘new speakers’ of European minority languages. By aligning the two strands of debate, we argue that they respond to common trajectories of nation-building and colonial expansion articulated through the ways in which nationalist and colonialist discourses have constructed languages and deployed them as means of state and colonial rule. After tracing the historical origins of the notion of ‘native speaker’ and summarizing the debates on ‘non-native speakers’ and ‘new speakers’, we point to the ways in which a critical engagement with the concept of speakerness can throw light on other sociolinguistic areas in which the issue of speaker legitimacy is often recruited to naturalize inequalities of race, class or gender.