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This article explores the recently emerging area of ecolinguistics as a form of critical discourse study. While ecolinguistics tends to use the same forms of linguistic analysis as traditional critical discourse studies, the normative framework it operates in considers relationships of humans not just with other humans but also with the larger ecological systems that all life depends on. Ecolinguistics analyses discourses from consumerism to nature poetry, critiquing those which encourage ecologically destructive behaviour and seeking out those which encourage relationships of respect and care for the natural world. The expanded context of ecolinguistics complicates power relations between oppressor and oppressed since it considers impacts on non-human subjects and future generations not yet born, necessitating both theoretical development of CDS and an application of an ecologically based normative framework for judging discourses against.
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Stibbe, Arran ORCID: 0000-0002-3854-9854 (2014) An Ecolinguistic
Approach to Critical Discourse Studies. Critical Discourse Studies, 11 (1).
pp. 117-128. doi:10.1080/17405904.2013.845789
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This is a peer-reviewed, post-print (final draft post-refereeing) version of the following
published document:
Stibbe, A. (2014). An Ecolinguistic Approach to
Critical Discourse Studies. Critical Discourse
Studies, 11(1), 117-128.
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An Ecolinguistic Approach to Critical Discourse Studies
Arran Stibbe
Abstract: This article explores the recently emerging area of ecolinguistics as a form of
critical discourse study. While ecolinguistics tends to use the same forms of linguistic
analysis as traditional critical discourse studies, the normative framework it operates in
considers not just relationships of humans with other humans but also with the larger
ecological systems that all life depends on. Ecolinguistics analyses discourses from
consumerism to nature poetry, critiquing those which encourage ecologically destructive
behaviour and seeking out those which encourage relationships of respect and care for the
natural world. The expanded context of ecolinguistics complicates power relations between
oppressor and oppressed since it considers impacts on non-human subjects and future
generations not yet born, necessitating both theoretical development of CDS as well as a
application of an ecologically based normative framework for judging discourses against.
* * *
She might not think of herself as such, but the physicist and environmental activist Vandana
Shiva shows many characteristics of an ecolinguist. Alexander (2010:112) describes how she
‘uses her analytical ability to uncover the semantic engineering that goes on when global
corporations colonize and destroy traditional agriculture in the Third World’, uncovering
‘the metaphors and the models underlying the so-called modernization of agriculture.’ Shiva
states, for example, that ‘When patents are granted for seeds and plants, as in the case of
basmati, theft is defined as creation and saving and sharing seed is defined as theft of
intellectual property’ (Shiva in Alexander 2010:118). In saying this, she is critiquing the
discourse of Monsanto and the hegemonic forces of globalised agriculture. But more than
that, Shiva seeks out and promotes alternative discourses that structure the world in very
different ways, based on ‘abundance and sharing, diversity and decentralisation, and
respect and dignity for all beings(Shiva in Alexander 2010:112).
In essence, ecolinguistics consists of questioning the stories that underpin our
current unsustainable civilization, exposing those stories that are clearly not working, that
are leading to ecological destruction and social injustice, and finding new stories that work
better in the conditions of the world that we face. These are not stories in the traditional
sense of a narrative, however, but rather discourses, frames, metaphors and, in general,
clusters of linguistic features that come together to covey particular worldviews. Halliday
(2001: 103) warns that ‘There is a syndrome of grammatical features which
construe reality in a certain way; and it is a way that is no longer good for our health as a
species’. Mühlhäusler (2003:91) similarly writes that ‘grammatical constructions have
developed in the more recent past that might encourage language habits which have
contributed to our present environmental crisis.’ Goatly (2001:203) goes further, stating
that ‘ordinary language, especially the transitive clause, is inadequate to the representation
of the world demanded by…ecological theory’, disagreeing with Halliday that the problem
lies in features such as nominalisation and instead critiquing the way clauses divide the
world into agents and affected participants. In general, the ‘linguistics’ side of ecolinguistics
holds out the promise of sophisticated analysis of the linguistic mechanisms by which
worldviews are constructed, reproduced, spread and resisted while the ‘eco’ side promises
a sophisticated ecological framework to consider the role of those worldviews in preserving
or undermining the conditions that support life.
Not all those who call themselves ‘ecolinguists’ will recognise this characterisation of
the discipline, however. There are those who apply an ecological metaphor to language
contact and work towards the promotion of linguistic diversity as a metaphorical parallel to
biodiversity (e.g. Bastardas-Boada 2005, 2003). There are those who apply concepts from
ecology to linguistic theory itself, attempting to create a ‘metamodel’ to ‘orchestrate all we
observe about language and communication into one theory of language’ (Boguslawska-
Tafelska 2013:13). For some, ecolinguistics is just analysis of texts which happen to be about
the environment, or even analysing texts such as road signs in their geographical locations.
Of most relevance, however, for Critical Discourse Studies, is research which takes ecology
literally, as the life-sustaining interactions of organisms (including humans) with other
organisms and the natural environment. The objects of analysis, then, are discourses which
have an impact on how humans treat each other, other organisms and the physical
environment. This will include discourses such as those of conservation, which are
specifically about the environment or ecology, but also discourses such as neoclassical
economic discourse which, precisely through their omission of ecological consideration, can
encourage people to behave in ways that are ecologically destructive.
Among the many discourses that have been analysed from an ecolinguistic
perspective are discourses about: advertising (Hogben 2009, Slater 2007), economics
(Stibbe 2005, Halliday 2001), environmentalism (Alexander 2010, Benton and Short 1999,
Harré et al 1999), natural resources (Meisner 2007, Kurz et al 2005), energy (Russell et al
2011), animals (Stibbe 2012a, Goatly 2006, Glenn 2004), ecotourism (Milstein 2011, 2008),
the concept of ‘nature’ (Knight 2010, Hanson 2006), climate change (Doulton and Brown
2009, Ihlen 2009), and sustainability (Kowalski 2013). Ecolinguistic studies vary in
sophistication, comprehensiveness, depth of analysis and motivation, but some general
characteristics of an ecolinguistic approach to discourse analysis are described below:
a) The focus is on discourses that have (or potentially have) a significant impact not only on
how people treat other people but also how they treat the larger ecological systems that life
depends on.
b) The discourses are analysed by showing how clusters of linguistic features come together
to form particular worldviews or ‘cultural codes’. A cultural code is ‘a compact package of
shared values, norms, ethos and social beliefs[which] constructs and reflect the
community’s common sense”’ (Gavriely-Nuri 2012: 80). An example is the pervasive code
that sees unlimited economic growth as both a possible and a desirable goal for human
c) The criteria that worldviews are judged by are derived from an explicit or implicit
ecological philosophy (or ecosophy). An ecosophy is informed by both a scientific
understanding of how organisms (including humans) depend on interactions with other
organisms and a physical environment to survive and flourish, and also an ethical framework
to decide why survival and flourishing matters and whose survival and flourishing matters.
d) The study aims to expose and draw attention to discourses which are appear to be
ecologically destructive (i.e., work against the principles of the ecosophy), or alternatively to
seek out and promote discourses which could potentially help protect and preserve the
conditions that support life (i.e., are aligned with the values of the ecosophy).
e) The study is aimed towards practical application through raising awareness of the role of
language in ecological destruction or protection, informing policy, informing educational
development, or providing ideas that can be drawn on in redesigning existing texts or
producing new texts in the future.
Aside from the ecological dimension, these characteristics are similar to those of traditional
Critical Discourse Analysis. A primary way that CDA contributes to social change is by raising
awareness in order to stimulate what Stewart (1999:91) calls ‘self-directed social
movements’. These are movements which are ‘created, led and populated primarily by
those who perceive themselves to be dispossessed and….struggling primarily for personal
freedom, equality, justice, and rights.’ CDA operates by exposing how common sense
assumptions built into the prevailing discourses of a society are common sense
assumptions in the service of sustaining unequal relations of power’ and howIf one
becomes aware that a particular aspect of common sense is sustaining power inequalities at
one’s own expense, it ceases to be common sense, and may cease to have the capacity to
sustain power inequalities(Fairclough 2001: 71). Ecolinguistics can also operate in this way,
exposing how common sense assumptions within transnational capitalism play a role in
destroying the ecological systems that oppressed communities depend on for their
wellbeing and survival, and providing evidence and materials that self-directed social
movements from these communities can use in working towards social change.
Ecolinguistics has another important focus, however, on what Stewart (1999:92)
describes as ‘other-directed social movements’ - movements which ‘are struggling for the
freedom, equity, justice and rights of others rather than selves’. This is because many of the
victims of ecological destruction are those who cannot be made conscious of the forces
behind their oppression and do not have a voice to resist oppressive discourses: other
species of animals, plants, forests, rivers, or future generations. As van Dijk (1993: 252)
points out, critical discourse analysts take the perspective of ‘those who suffer most from
dominance and inequality…Their problems are…serious problems that affect the wellbeing
and lives of many’. For ecolinguists, that may (depending on their ecological philosophy)
include those who suffer but are not human, or are likely to suffer in the future. The results
of ecological destruction may also cycle back to have an impact on those responsible for
them, or their children, which blurs the line between simplistic constructions of oppressors
and oppressed (Goatly 2001). This requires a somewhat different approach since language
awareness may be aimed not at raising consciousness among the oppressed of their own
oppression, but among people in ecologically destructive societies about the impact of their
societies on others, both human and non-human, close or distant, and present and future
All critical studies are based on an explicit or implicit philosophy which gives an
ethical vision of where societies should be heading, and they use this philosophy to judge
discourses against. Typically in CDA this is a set of values concerning oppression,
exploitation and inequality, and under what circumstances these are unacceptable and must
be resisted (e.g., van Dijk 2008). In calling for a Cultural Critical Discourse Analysis, Gavriely-
Nuri (2012:83) proposes a somewhat wider framework based on a ‘culture of peace’. The
framework (or ethical philosophy) promotes ‘values, attitudes and behaviours based on the
principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity.
Analysis is directed towards exposing discourses which work against these principles, and
searching for ‘discursive tools that practically promote the ‘culture of peace’” (Gavriely-Nuri
2012:83). This is particularly useful because it is explicit, and does not disguise the fact that
the analyst is, in essence, comparing and contrasting dominant discourses with their own
ethical philosophy of how they see an ideal society.
What is missing from the ‘culture of peace’ framework, however, and many similar
frameworks in CDA, is a consideration of the ecological embedding and impact of cultures.
Freedom and democracy do not automatically lead to sustainable levels of consumption,
and peace in a society that exceeds environmental limits will be short lived. Hiscock (2012)
describes how contamination and over-exploitation of natural resources is one of the key
drivers behind war. Ecolinguistic studies are based on a variety of different philosophical /
ethical frameworks, but all consider ecological dimensions as well as social ones. Naess’s
(1996) term ‘ecosophy’ is useful for describing frameworks that ecolinguistic studies use to
judge discourses against:
By an ecosophy I mean a philosophy of ecological harmony…openly normative it
contains norms, rules, postulates, value priority announcements and hypotheses
concerning the state of affairs … The details of an ecosophy will show many variations
due to significant differences concerning not only the ‘facts’ of pollution, resources,
population, etc. but also value priorities. Naess (1996:8)
Ecosophies range along a series of spectra that broadly (but not completely) line up. The
spectra run from anthropocentric to ecocentric, optimistic to pessimistic, neoliberal to
either socialist, localist or anarchist. The following paragraph gives a taste of some of these,
to give an indication of the diversity of possible ecosophies rather than detail.
From one end of the spectrum, or spectra, there is cornutopianism, a philosophy
which considers that human ingenuity and ever advancing technology will overcome
environmental and resource issues and that we should push ahead with industrial progress
for the sake of human (and only human) benefit (e.g., Lomborg 2001, Ridley 2011). Then
there are a cluster of philosophies around sustainable development which attempt to
combine economic growth and environmental protection, although often in ways that
provide little challenge to existing social structures (e.g., Baker 2005). More radical is social
ecology (e.g., Bookchin 2005), where the roots of ecological destruction are seen as existing
in social hierarchies. According to social ecology, humans will not stop dominating nature
and treating it as a resource until we stop dominating each other and treating each other as
resources. Ecofeminism (e.g., Pandey 2011) similarly locates the roots of ecological crisis in
domination, but particularly focuses on the parallels between men’s domination of women
and the oppression of animals and the environment. One of the tasks of ecofeminism is
breaking down barriers so that the ecological sensitivity gained by women through their
practical role in subsistence and community building is valued and used in rebuilding more
ecological societies. Deep Ecology (e.g., Dregson and Young 1996) is based around
recognising the intrinsic worth of plants, animals, forests, rivers, i.e., their value beyond
direct, short-term use for humans. Recognising value in other species and nature is claimed
to encourage protection and minimal damage to the complex ecosystems that support all
life, including human life. There are also some practical movements which are based on
their own ecosophies. Transition (e.g., Hopkins 2008) is based on a philosophy of resilience
as a key aim, as both climate change and the depletion of oil lead to an inevitable decline in
the ability of the Earth to support human life. Transition is localist in encouraging
communities to regain the skills to look after each other and fulfil their own needs in the
troubled times ahead. The Dark Mountain Project (Kingsnorth and Hine 2009) sees even the
hope of resilience as overly optimistic, and aims at generating new stories for survivors to
live by after the inevitable collapse of industrial civilisation. The aim is to discover stories
which do not repeat the same errors of the past and consider humans as part of the natural
world rather than conquers of it. Deep Green Resistance (McBay et al 2011) sees industrial
civilisation as evil due to the damage and suffering it causes both humans and other species,
and rather than waiting for it to destroy itself aims to hasten its destruction through
carefully planned sabotage. At the far other end of the spectrum there is the semi-serious
Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT 2013), with a utilitarian philosophy that it
would be better for one species (homo sapiens) to go extinct (voluntarily through a global
decision not to have children) rather than the millions of species that humans are causing to
go extinct.
It is for the ecolinguist, then, to survey the wide range of philosophies that are ‘out
there’ in the literature critically, consider them carefully in light of available evidence and
their own experience of human communities and the natural world, and then build their
own ecosophy through combining them, extending them or creating something entirely
new. Gary Snyder, ecocritic, poet and philosopher, for instance, has built a personal
ecosophy combining and extending aspects of social and deep ecology (Messersmith-Glavin
2010). The ecosophy has to be scientifically possible for example an extreme version of
sustainable development that promoted economic growth everywhere, even in the richest
of countries, could be argued to be impossible given environmental limits. It has to be
plausible, which the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement could be argued not to be since
it relies on everyone in the world agreeing not to have children. And it has to be aligned
with the available evidence: Transition, for example, is dependent on evidence that oil
production is due to peak and decline, that climate change is occurring, and that both will
have a serious impact on human society.
Analysis proceeds by showing how clusters of linguistic features come together in
discourses to present a particular worldview, then judging the worldview against the
ecosophy. Discourses can fall along a spectrum in terms of their ‘fit’ with the ecosophy. At
one end are discourses which stand in active opposition to the ecosophy and are judged as
negative discourses, ecologically destructive discourses, or using a simplistic traffic light
metaphor, as discourses which get a red light. As an example, Halliday (2001:192) critiques
discourses of economic growth, showing how growth is represented positively across a
range of discourses, from news reports which make statements such as ‘a more optimistic
look includes prolonged air travel expansion driven by continued growth’ (Sydney Morning
Herald) to the word ‘grow’ itself, which as an unmarked term has a psychological positivity.
Halliday critiques these discourses against his own ecosophy which is based on
environmental limits to growth and the goal of the continuance of human life ‘We are using
up…capital resources….fresh water supplies and the agricultural soils which we can’t live
without.’ (ibid: 192) as well as consideration of other species ‘We are destroying many of
the other species who form part of the planet’s life cycle’ (ibid: 192). Similarly, Gargan
(2007) critiques the discourse of perfume advertisements from an ecosophy that considers
the wellbeing of both human and other forms of life, exposing how the discourse
encourages unnecessary consumption of toxic and energy-intensive products that have a
negative impact on humans and other species. Stibbe (2003) analyses the discourse of
animal product industries from an ecosophy of recognising and working with the nature of
animals and plants to make maximum use of freely available ecosystem services. The
analysis shows how discourses of the animal product industry works against this ecosophy
by representing animals as objects, machines and resources, thereby denying their nature
and justifying ecologically damaging intensive farming.
If discourses such as those of economic growth, advertising and intensive agriculture
are analysed and declared to be ecologically destructive discourses, then there is the
question of how ecolinguistics can be useful in resisting those discourses. One key way is
through promoting Critical Language Awareness (Fairclough 1992) of the potentially
damaging effects of the discourse and providing materials that can be useful in resisting it.
For instance, awareness of the manipulative effects of advertising discourse could help
people resist it through reducing their exposure to advertising and being more critical about
whether the products advertised are necessary and really lead to the benefits suggested in
the advertisement. Or knowledge of the workings of advertisements could help in
campaigns such as Adbusters (2013) which creates spoof advertisements to oppose the
ideologies embedded in advertising discourse. Details about the workings of ecologically
destructive economic discourses could be useful for groups like the New Economics
Foundation or more radical groups such as UK Uncut, or the Occupy movement, which are
working towards social and economic change.
Critical language awareness is most effective when it raises awareness of the
destructive impact of discourses among those working directly in the areas responsible for
them, e.g., raising awareness of the discourse of economic growth among economists and
politicians who use (and therefore reproduce) the discourse. An optimistic perspective is
that, in general, people do not want to contribute to social injustice and ecological
destruction these are side effects of discourses which have a narrow focus on other goals.
If aware of the potentially destructive effects of a discourse, some within the area
responsible for the discourses may call for change. An example of this is the poultry industry
journal ‘Poultry Science’ which published an article that is worth quoting extensively:
Scholars (Stibbe, 2003; Linzey, 2006) have suggested that industry discourse
characterizes animals in ways that objectify them (p387)… Although an analysis of
discourse may seem odd and irrelevant…this type of examination is illuminating in
some potentially beneficial ways (p390)… It may be necessary to reconsider several
aspects of animal production relative to ideology, discourse, and practice.
Transparency of contemporary animal production practices and a real ethic of care
and respect for animals must be embodied not just in our practices but also in the
internal and external discourse of animal agriculture. (Croney and Reynnells 2008,
The importance of this extract is that it is from within the industry itself, and calls for a
change not just at the level of language but also in ‘our practices’, i.e., the practices of the
As well as destructive discourses, a key interest of ecolinguistics is in discourses
which at first sight appear to be constructive and do not contradict the principles of the
ecosophy, but at the same time do not seem to actively work towards those principles
either. These could be called ambivalent discourses, or get an amber light. There are a range
of dominant mainstream discourses that could be analysed in this way, including some
environmentalist discourses, conservationist discourses, discourses of sustainable
development and greenwashing. Harré et al (1999) give the name ‘Greenspeak’ to these
kind of discourses, with negative Orwellian overtones of ‘newspeak’.
Some environmental discourses could be criticised for focusing only on using
resources more efficiently, small actions such as filling the kettle with less water or
recycling, creating more efficient technology, or cleaning up pollution after it has been
produced, none of which require a fundamental reconsideration of how much is consumed
overall and who consumes it. If the ecosophy is based on an extensive overall reduction of
human consumption in order to protect ecosystems, while simultaneously reducing poverty
and creating more equitable societies, then a large-scale redistribution of resources is
necessary to bring people out of poverty even as the total consumption declines.
Environmental discourses which fail to consider redistribution or a reduction in
consumption could therefore be criticised according to the ecosophy. Or if the ecosophy
revolves around generating respect and care for other species and nature then some
conservation discourses could be critiqued for only encouraging respect for a narrow range
of species - the large, cuddly varieties (Thompson 2010). And finally, some ecological
discourses could be critiqued for representing nature and other species as objects or
resources of instrumental rather than intrinsic value (Stibbe 2012a).
At the other end of the spectrum are discourses which resonate with and are aligned
with the ecosophy of the analyst - positive discourses, beneficial discourses, discourses
which get a green light. Alexander’s (2010) study of the discourse used by Vandana Shiva at
the start of this paper is an exampleclearly Shiva’s discourse aligns with Alexander’s own
ecosophy, as visible from the positive evaluation of Shiva’s ‘achievement’ throughout his
analysis (see p113). Bringhurst (2006), in his own version of ‘ecological linguistics’, searches
Native American languages, literature and cultures for new stories to live by:
I am convinced, myself, that [Native American] stories and poems are often of great
practical value as well as artistic merit. They are the legacy, after all, of peoples who
knew how to live in this land for thousands of years without wrecking it….If we do
want to learn to live in the world, I think that the study of Native American literature is
one of the best and most efficient ways to do just that…the fundamental subject of
this thought, this intellectual tradition, is the relationship between human beings and
the rest of the world (ibid., p26)
Stibbe (2012a) analyses a range discourses from Japanese haiku and animated films to the
lyrical science writing of Rachel Carson, as examples of positive discourses which encourage
respect for nature and the fulfilling of human needs in ways which do not rely on excess
consumption. The discourses analysed may, of course, be exactly the same discourses which
inspired the ecosophy in the first place no surprise then that they align and resonate with
it then. That is not a problem, however, since the aim of the analysis is not just to come to a
binary conclusion ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but also to reveal the specific ways that clusters of
linguistic features come together to express a particular worldview. And, of course, even the
most ‘positive’ discourses are always treated critically since they may be internally
contradictory or have unintended side effects which can be revealed through analysis.
Martin and Rose (2003) introduced the term ‘Positive Discourse Analysis’ for this
type of analysis, and the concept was further developed by Macgilchrist (2007) and Bartlett
(2012). However, the term has proved controversial. Wodak (in Kendall 2007), for instance,
argues that the term ‘critical’ does not imply ‘being negative’ and that ‘proposing
alternatives is also part of being critical’ (17). Clearly though, the overwhelming majority of
work in both Critical Discourse Analysis and ecolinguists is about negative evaluation of
discourses which run counter to the analyst’s beliefs and values. Martin is right to
emphasise the importance of analysing positive discourses, since if ecolinguistics aims to
make a practical difference then it is necessary to not only show where discourses are
encouraging ecological destruction but also to give avenues for shaping discourses
differently. Wodak is also right in the sense that the analysis stage of both negative and
positive discourses is the same, but it is the practical application that is different: positive
discourses are, of course, promoted rather than resisted. This is not promoting the ‘texts’ -
for example promoting the works of Rachel Carson - but rather the discourses, i.e., the
specific clustering of linguistic features that convey the worldview. An understanding of how
the discourse used by Rachel Carson brings together linguistic features in ways which
express scientific knowledge but without devaluing other species by turning them into
‘specimens’ or resourcescould be useful in helping to reshape environmental discourse. Or
an understanding of how Vandana Shiva resists imposed metaphors from the West and uses
language in ways which reassert the traditional metaphors of local cultures could be used to
give tired and compromised ‘sustainable development’ discourses a new spark of life.
Kate Soper (2011) laments that ‘To date, there has been no attempt seriously to challenge
the definition of the ‘good life’ associated with affluent consumer culture...’. Challenging
consumer culture is hard because it is so deeply embedded in so many discourses, from
advertising to news reports and the everyday conversation of friends admiring each other’s
possessions, and consumerism is so often overlooked as a target for action in mainstream
environmental discourses. This the kind of challenge that ecolinguistics is able to address,
through exposing the ecologically destructive ways that everyday discourses construct
notions of the ‘good life’, providing tools to help resist those discourses, and searching for
beneficial discourses which actively identify the ‘good life’ with something other than
consumerism. And going further than the ‘good life’ and consumer culture, ecolinguistics
can address how discourses shape vital (quite literally ‘necessary for life’) relationships
between humans, other species and the physical environment in many different ways.
This article has just described one form of ecolinguistics there are other existing
forms and other potential ways than an ‘ecolinguistics’ could be constructed. The approach
outlined in this article is well aligned with critical discourse studies since the methods of
analysis are much the same, with the main difference being the philosophical framework
that underlies the values and goals against which discourses are judged. Ecolinguistics has
potential to contribute to theory building within critical discourse studies because the wide
range of data analysed can reveal new insights into how language constructs society, and
the different approaches require the refinement of existing tools or the development of
new ones. For instance, ecolinguistics needs more sophisticated tools for analysis of
discursive erasure, in order to investigate the complex linguistic ways that nature is erased
from mainstream discourses including, incidentally, the discourse of CDA (Stibbe 2012b).
Ecolinguistics needs a more comprehensive theory of the discursive formation of identity to
examine how ecological identities are forged in language, and on the applied side, and it
needs to further develop theories of related to ‘other-directed’ social movements.
In sum, what ecolinguistics potentially has to offer critical discourse studies is a) an
expanded range of issues of importance for discourse analysts to address b) a more
comprehensive and explicit philosophical framework for judging discourses against one
which does not gloss over ecological aspects, and c) theoretical insights into ‘how discourse
works’ derived from examining new data from a new approach. It is, however, an emerging
area, with few studies of depth and sophistication, and it is a divided area, with the term
‘ecolinguistics’ being given to a range of different approaches and preoccupations. Perhaps
the ideal future for ecolinguistics is for numerous new studies to emerge that are based on
explicit and well-thought-out ecosophies and are practically useful in resisting the
discourses that underlie an ecologically destructive and socially unjust society. And then,
eventually, ecolinguistics and all the other ‘eco’ disciplines (ecopsychology, ecofeminism,
ecocriticism) can disappear as separate entities. They will no longer be necessary when
critical studies of all kinds, as a matter of course, consider ecological embedding of the
humans and human societies that they study.
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... The capitalist discourses exhaust the earth's natural resources by establishing material comfort and possessions as the core meaning of attaining "a good life". Capitalism, by encouraging the urgent consumer demands, threatens the earth's ecology and the "well-being and survival" of all living creatures through the dissemination of anthropocentric values of nature (Stibbe, 2014). Therefore, this study employs a critical ecolinguistics (CE) approach to the analysis of written discourses, excluding the accompanying images, of lessons addressing ecological issues in EFL textbooks in Egypt. ...
... The present study applies Stibbe's (2014) model of cognitive linguistic tools, his classification of the types of ecological discourse as well as Kahn and Kellert (2002) categorization of the anthropocentric representation or values of nature in capitalist discourse and the promoted forms of participation. First, Stibbe's (2014) model is employed in the study for the analysis of written discourse to identify the use of the following cognitive linguistic tools: a. Frames: which are triggered in our minds by certain words. ...
... The present study applies Stibbe's (2014) model of cognitive linguistic tools, his classification of the types of ecological discourse as well as Kahn and Kellert (2002) categorization of the anthropocentric representation or values of nature in capitalist discourse and the promoted forms of participation. First, Stibbe's (2014) model is employed in the study for the analysis of written discourse to identify the use of the following cognitive linguistic tools: a. Frames: which are triggered in our minds by certain words. b. ...
EFL curricula and teachers play a significant role in motivating ecological citizenship and helping students become critical ecological thinkers. This study applies critical Ecolinguistics as the theoretical background for its qualitative case study in order to identify the ecosophy guiding the design of the written discourse of lessons addressing environmental issues in a sample of EFL textbooks mandated by the Ministry of Education in Egypt. Analysis focuses on the linguistic features of the environmental discourse as well as nature related values, types of reasoning and forms of participation promoted in the texts. Findings reveal a propagation of shallow conservationism-environmentalism discourse and anthropocentric reasoning reflective of the consumerist age guiding the ecosophy of the texts. The results contribute to a proposal of suggestions addressed to educators in general, and EFL teachers and curriculum designers in Egypt in particular, as well as recommendations for future research.
... Because in this game it can be designed to reproduce and reflect the real world (Poole & Spangler, 2020). Furthermore, research conducted by Stibbe combines ecolinguistics with critical discourse by establishing a normative framework for assessing discourse ecologically (Stibbe, 2014). ...
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Diversity of the flora lexicon in the environment of Kaghati is part of the ethnic richness in the form of local knowledge that must be explored for the sake of environmental sustainability. This article intends to: (1) discover and portray the flora lexicon of kaghati; and (2) examine the dynamic of inter-generational comprehension. The researcher used qualitative method and upheld by quantitative method. The information required were gotten by perception, meeting, and poll strategies. At that point, the survey is directed upon 150 respondents. The extent of the respondents’ ages was from 15 to 65 years. In light of information examination, there were two discoveries discovered: (1) the flora lexicon of kaghati comprises of fifteen dictionaries as ostensible and biotic class. (2) There is an alternate degree of between generational comprehension on flora lexicon of kaghati. The old age (46-65 years) 84% (best), the middle generation (25-45 years) 74% (best), and the young generation (15-24 years) 55% (better).
... The methodology used for the analysis is a framework derived from insights from different CPA frameworks (e.g., Diem. et al., 2019), critical discourse analysis (CDA; van Dijk, 1995van Dijk, , 2006, social narrative theory (Baker, 2006) and ecolinguistics (Stibbe, 2014(Stibbe, , 2015. Questions that arise from the analysis include how policy issues are framed, the wider context in which they are constructed, the effects of these policies, why and whom do these policies fail (Jie, 2016;Taylor, 1997). ...
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Our current path towards deepening ecological crises is increasingly recognised, yet education has been slow to respond to the need to address the root causes driving us further down this path of unsustainability and destruction, namely hierarchical anthropocentrism. This study explores how we might move towards an educational reform for interspecies sustainability, grounded in the understanding that a just multispecies coexistence and sustainable futures require disrupting violence against other animals and attending to the creation of spaces of peace (within and beyond education). The overarching aim of this study is to explore through a multi-angle approach the occlusions and openings for attending to the ways in which (educational) violence(s) are (re)produced in formal education and how we might understand animals as stakeholders in education, sustainability and in our multispecies communities, and thus move towards an educational reform for interspecies sustainability. This overarching aim is elaborated by a set of sub questions and objectives. The first objective is to examine the ways in which human-animal relations are socially constructed. The second objective is to assess how animals are addressed in (and affected by) educational policies related to sustainability, consumption and curriculum. The third objective is to explore the openings offered by animal-inclusive educational frameworks and how they might propel us forward in educating for interspecies sustainability. These objectives are explored by using cows and the dairy industry as a case example, given the stronghold the dairy industry continues to have in the (Finnish) education system. Finally, the fourth objective is to inquire how humane educators are facilitating the implementation of animal-inclusive pedagogies. Overall, this study seeks to explore how, with effective alliances, we might move beyond the current impasse of a politics of unsustainability, which is inherently a multidimensional, interdisciplinary, intergenerational and interspecies endeavour. Available here:
This chapter provides an overview of Critical Discourse Studies (CDS) in the scholarship of children's literature. CDS is a broad umbrella which includes approaches that bring together critical social theories and discourse analysis in all of its forms. This chapter includes a survey of 30 years of scholarship. It resists the urge for completeness and instead highlights neglected histories and diverse theoretical perspectives (e.g. critical race theory, decolonizing approaches, feminist analysis) that provide new ways of understanding how conflicts and ideologies are being addressed, reinforced, or challenged through children's texts. The chapter highlights empirical examples that represent the diversity of approaches brought to analyzing children's literature including the orientation to power (deconstructive or reconstructive). An exciting thread through the scholarship we reviewed was the persistent drumbeat of small groups working together – teacher educators, educators, children – using the tools of critical discourse analysis to analyze books and make social interventions with K‐12 students, teachers, and teacher candidates. The chapter includes an illustrative example of children and teachers using the tools of CDS to examine children's literature. Looking to the future, the authors recommend analyses of the discursive landscapes of children's literature – from publishing, circulation, distribution, readership, and discussion – tracing the paths of books, readers, and activity systems. It is important for scholars to find ways to translate CDS scholarship in publicly accessible ways (e.g. with policymakers, educators, parents) to advocate for widespread access to children's literature that centers the voices, experiences, knowledge, and realities of BIPOC.
Purpose This paper aims to examine the role numbers play in corporate environmental reporting. To deeply examine the ontological meanings of enumeration in the context of nature, the histories of number and accounting are explored. Some key tropes emerge from these histories, namely, distancing and control. Design/methodology/approach To explore some of the implications of quantifying nature, three years of environmental reports of ten companies from the ASX200 are analysed through a Barthsian lens. Examples of enumerating nature are highlighted and explored in terms of what this means for the corporate relationship with nature. This study has focussed on some specific aspects of nature that are commonly counted in corporate environmental reporting: carbon, energy, water, biodiversity and waste. This study explores how monetisation and obfuscation are used and how this informs the myth that nature is controllable. Findings This study finds that quantifying nature constructs a metaphorical distance between the company and the natural world which erodes the sense of connection associated with an authentic care for nature. These findings are critical in light of the detrimental impact of corporate activity on the natural world. The reports themselves, while promoted as a tool to help mitigate damage to the natural environment, are implicitly perpetuating its harm. Research limitations/implications Given the extent to which companies are responsible for environmental damage and the potential capacity embedded in corporate communications, better understanding the implications of quantifying nature could powerfully instigate a new but necessary approach to nature. Originality/value The insights of this paper are relevant to those aiming to improve the underpinning approaches used in corporate environmental reporting. This paper provides new understandings of the ways quantitative expression of environmental values constructs the myth that nature is controllable.
Biodiverse ecosystems play a key role in maintaining life on earth. In response to rapid declines in biodiversity throughout the world, the UN Biodiversity Summit 2020 brought together world leaders to discuss potential solutions. We draw on cognitive linguistics, critical discourse analysis and ecolinguistics in analysing the summit contributions. All speakers blended vocabulary from the fields of BUSINESS and NATURE; in doing so, they were able to advocate solving biodiversity loss by implementing approaches commonly found in business. In addition, three main ‘moves’ were employed in these speeches: (i) the state of nature was lamented, (ii) the interdependent relationship between humans and nature was mentioned and (iii) a call to action was given. It is argued that relying on the BUSINESS–NATURE blend for solutions to environmental problems serves to maintain the status quo and may obscure pathways to transformational change. Linguistic strategies for more effective environmental communication are suggested.
The last 50 years have witnessed ecolinguistics come into bloom as a mature domain. This paper aims to examine the half-century development of ecolinguistics by reviewing its backgrounds, definitions, strands, and approaches, and also briefly previewing its future horizons. The birth of ecolinguistics can be attributed to such ecological necessities as the ecological crisis as an essential root, and an ecological perspective for linguistics as a linguistic necessity, together with six ecolinguistic turns in this domain (Section 2). Since the emergence of ecolinguistics in the 1970s, various definitions for ecolinguistics as an evolving concept have come into being, involving the geographical, conceptual, disciplinary, methodological, and practical sides (Section 3). Figures who have contributed to the development of this domain can be divided into old strands like Haugenian and Hallidayan ecolinguistics, as well as new strands such as strong ecolinguistics and the latest radical embodied ecolinguistics (Section 4). Given the diverse definitions and strands, a set of approaches have taken shape, ranging from the Haugenian approach to ecological discourse analysis (Section 5). Due to major problems found in reviewing four parts of ecolinguistics, it is high time three shifts in perspective be put into effect in ecolinguistics that can promise its future horizons.
Ecological identity, acting as the baton to guide the public’s behavior in nature, is closely correlated with environmental crises that threaten human survival. Previous studies of ecological identity are mostly conducted in the domain of sociopsychology with an emphasis on human’s attitude and behavior. Less attention, however, has been paid to the discursive construction of one’s ecological identity. The current study aims to build a framework to explore the mechanism of discursive strategies in constructing one’s ecological identity. To this end, this article classifies different ecological identities according to their impact on nature and the ecosophy of holism. It then puts forward a framework based on systemic functional linguistics to explore how lexicogrammatical resources can be employed strategically in the construction of ecological identity. The framework is significant for ecolinguistic investigations of identity and the cultivation of human’s critical language awareness related to the protection of ecosystems.
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In this interview, Ruth WODAK discusses the beginnings of her career, and what propelled her into critical discourse analysis. She analyses what makes critical discourse analysis "critical", distinguishes criticalness from dogmatism, but expounds upon the relationship between critique and norms. Finally, she discusses how "integrative indisciplinarity" might help us with problems of disciplinary incommensurability. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0702297
There is much debate about the state of the world. Matt Ridley argues in The Rational Optimist that we can solve problems such as economic crashes,population explosions, climate change and terrorism, of poverty, AIDS, depression and obesity. His trust of capitalism and progress is examined and challenged in this book review.
A fascinating insight into the global battle for our energy future. The global competition for scarce natural resources that pits the West against the super-hot economies of China and India, plus a clutch of other contenders including Russia, Brazil, and Indonesia, has become one of the biggest issues facing the world today. Whether it is the rare metal lithium found in salt pans in the Andes, gas from the Caspian Sea, oil off the coast of Brazil, coal from Africa's Zambezi River, or uranium from Kazakhstan, China and India are desperate to ensure the security of their future energy supplies. The same goes for food and water, as contamination and over-use take their toll, the need to provide continued access for the next generation and beyond has increased exponentially. In Earth Wars: The Battle for Global Resources, international business journalist Geoff Hiscock explores the problems, potential solutions, and inevitable tensions in this ongoing scramble for finite natural resources. Going beyond "big power" politics to explore resource ownership and the use of innovative technology to get the most out of them, the book takes a forward-looking approach to this pressing issue. Written in clear, jargon-free language, it tells the global resources story in a fresh and engaging way that anyone can understand. Includes insightful, up-to-the-minute coverage of the most pressing debates over resource allocations. Discusses the major Chinese and Indian businesses that are just becoming known to those in the West (Sinopec, CNOOC, CNPC, Indian Oil, ONGC, Reliance, Coal India, SAIL, and many others). Presents resource- and region-specific chapters to help readers view the pertinent issues from multiple angles. As the economies of China and India grow to challenge those of the West, the battle over natural resources will continue to heat up. Earth Wars looks at this very real problem in-depth, presenting a definitive look at one of the greatest challenges of our time. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Singapore Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article examines the representation of animals and plants in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, showing how they are systematically erased from consciousness through a variety of linguistic devices. The consequences for engaging and motiving people in the UK who care about the wellbeing, welfare, and lives of animals and plants are discussed, and the conclusion calls for more balanced ways of representing the natural world.
In this study, Bartlett presents a theoretical and descriptive development in the discipline of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) extending the recent trend away from critiques of hegemonic practices and towards the description of alternative and minority practices that has been labelled Positive Discourse Analysis (PDA). Through an in-depth case study of intercultural development discourse, the book goes beyond the top-down model of power in CDA and the oppositional approach of PDA to develop a model of power in language as multifaceted and potentially collaborative. This model is used to analyse the particular circumstances of the case study, but is primarily presented as a framework for practical applied linguistic contributions within a wide range of sociocultural contexts. Drawing on social and linguistic theory and methods from a range of functional and applied approaches to language, the book explores the connections between language form and social function, the contextual constraints on discursive action and the potential for the renegotiation of existing discourses and social practices.
In this study, Richard Alexander presents a series of original and empirically based case studies of the language and discourse involved in the discussion of environmental and ecological issues. Relying upon a variety of different text types and genres - including company websites, advertisements, press articles, speeches and lectures - Alexander interrogates how in the media, press, corporate and activist circles language is employed to argue for and propagate selected positions on the growing ecological crisis. For example, he asks: How are ecological and environmental concerns articulated in texts? What do we learn about ecological 'problems' through texts from differing sources? What language features accompany ecological discourse in differing contexts and registers? Attention is especially directed at where this discourse comes into contact with business, economic and political concerns.