The research unit at the Department of Pharmacy and Health and Nutritional Sciences (DFSSN) of the University of Calabria shares the general lines of investigation on linguistic variation in English and the related methodologies advanced by the national CLAVIER Research Centre. The research unit is an inter-university network with five other universities in Southern Italy (Bari, Catania, University of Campania, Naples Federico II, Palermo) and with two international affiliates (University of Nottingham, UK; University of Szczecin, Poland).

Group members share a common research interest in linguistic variation in English mainly concerning the dimensions of diaphasia, diamesia and diastratia, and how these interact with each other in various ways. The investigation of diaphasic variation, as a situational function of context and of discursive contents, is particularly oriented to the analysis of functional linguistic varieties used in specific communication domains where the mediation of specialized discourse takes place. Research results on specialized discourses, genres and knowledge have been presented at several CLAVIER conferences by members of the unit.

Ongoing research further focuses on the macro and micro-discursive variants and on the sub-dimensions and the characteristics of diaphasic variation from an interdisciplinary perspective with particular emphasis on:

  • register variation at all analytical levels (pronunciation, morphosyntax, lexicon, textual and pragmatic articulation) of language for special purposes;
  • code variation connected with the scope of use of special languages, namely the languages of health and nutritional sciences, medicine, law, ecology, politics and tourism and their distinctive lexico-semantic features.

Particular importance is also given to the analysis of diamesic variation linked to the medium adopted in the realization of diaphasic variation. This specific analysis is an integral part of the group’s research, allowing for a more careful examination of the discursive peculiarities determined by both traditional communication media and the more advanced ones, such as Internet-based technologies and social media. The diaphasic variation of the main written, oral and digital genres in the aforementioned specialized domains and their configuration through possible processes of genre hybridization are one of the main objects of study. Diastratic variation is, therefore, considered in terms of the differences found between specialized discourse and its popularized counterpart, also with the aim of disclosing the underlying ideologies and the strategic methods of disseminating disciplinary knowledge.

This kind of variation is further treated as an indicator of various socio-cultural stratifications with particular reference to two main research areas: 1) intercultural communication and its socio-psycholinguistic aspects, plurilingualism and the role of the English language in traditional multilingual contexts and in those emerging as a result of phenomena such as mobility and globalization; 2) the functional role of discourse in the valorisation of socio-scientific aspects of the local Mediterranean culture, and the subsequent linguistic mediation of identity formation and its perception in national and international contexts.

Research on the interaction between the three main dimensions of linguistic variation in English is developed by adopting a quantitative and qualitative methodology and different methods, such as critical discourse analysis, multimodal analysis of digital texts, the discourse-historical approach, genre analysis, pragmatic analysis supported by the methodological tools made available in the field of corpus linguistics.

The investigation that the UNICAL research unit intends to further pursue, therefore, takes into account the synchronic/diachronic, geographical/virtual, and the local/global socio-cultural dimensions of linguistic variation, and will find its application in tertiary pedagogical contexts particularly aimed at teaching English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and translation studies.


International affiliates: