“I don’t think education is the answer”: a corpus-assisted ecolinguistic analysis of plastics discourses in the UK
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AbstractEcosystems around the world are becoming engulfed in single-use plastics, the majority of which come from plastic packaging. Reusable plastic packaging systems have been proposed in response to this plastic waste crisis, but uptake of such systems in the UK is still very low. This article draws on a thematic corpus of 5.6 million words of UK English around plastics, packaging, reuse, and recycling to examine consumer attitudes towards plastic (re)use. Utilizing methods and insights from ecolinguistics, corpus linguistics, and cognitive linguistics, this article assesses to what degree consumer language differs from that of public-facing bodies such as supermarkets and government entities. A predefined ecosophy, prioritizing protection, rights, systems thinking, and fairness, is used to not only critically evaluate narratives in plastics discourse but also to recommend strategies for more effective and ecologically beneficial communications around plastics and reuse. This article recommends the adoption of ecosophy in multidisciplinary project teams, and argues that ecosophies are conducive to transparent and reproducible discourse analysis. The analysis also suggests that in order to make meaningful change in packaging reuse behaviors, it is highly likely that deeply ingrained cultural stories around power, rights, and responsibilities will need to be directly challenged.
CitationFranklin, E., Gavins, J. and Mehl, S. (2022) “I don’t think education is the answer”: a corpus-assisted ecolinguistic analysis of plastics discourses in the UK. Journal of World Languages, 2022, 9(5). pp. 374–378. https://doi.org/10.1515/jwl-2022-0017
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
JournalJournal of World Languages
Description© 2022 The Authors. Published by De Gruyter Mouton. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1515/jwl-2022-0017
SponsorsThis research was funded by UK Research and Innovation (grant number NE/V010638/1).
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/