The ELF in TIGs project develops a new methodological and descriptive framework for the study of communication in transient multilingual contexts.

The project English as a Lingua Franca in Transient International Groups has the aim of establishing a comprehensive conceptual, methodological and descriptive framework for the study of communication in transient lingua franca contexts, i.e. situations that are too short-lived, fleeting or unstable to be considered communities of practice. It is concerned with the systematic empirical description of how communication evolves in interaction in different ELF contexts and in different group constellations across time. 

Relying on ethnographic methods for data collection (video recording of naturally-occurring spoken ELF interactions, detailed orthographic transcription, interviews), the project combines corpus linguistics, interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, pragmatics and discourse analysis. It develops a micro-diachronic approach for the analysis of (spoken) interaction in order to provide more detailed empirical descriptions of how language changes in groups of speakers in real-time interactions. This innovative methodological approach is used to analyze lexical and pragmatic processes in TIGs, such as situational/group-specific multilingual practices or lexical accommodation (creativity, convergence, divergence). The use of qualitative data analysis software and corpus technologies on detailed transcripts makes it possible to systematically trace – and visually represent – the emergence and development of different communicative practices throughout ELF interactions in real time (i.e. micro-diachronically). 

The micro-diachronic methodology is applied, tested and fine-tuned on different ELF-TIG data sets in the project. Some analyses are carried out on speech events that represent different TIGs in VOICE (Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English), but ELF-TIG data have also been recorded specifically for the project in a multilingual co-working space in Vienna. Drawing on these data, the principles of micro-diachronic analysis will be systematically expanded on different TIG interactions throughout the project. 

In addition to micro-diachronic analyses, the project devises a comprehensive framework for TIGs that can be used to systematize multilingual/lingua franca contexts. Salient TIG parameters of the framework will serve as conceptual tools and categories for a meta-analysis of ELF publications. This might allow initial propositions about the salience of different (socio)linguistic and pragmatic processes in different phases of group development and different kinds of ELF-TIGs. 

Once specified and more established, the methodology and parameters of the TIGs framework could be applied by scholars to conceptualize and describe communication in a wide range of situations of transient language contact beyond the use of English as a lingua franca. Micro-diachronic portraits and detailed analyses of group interactions carried out in the ELF in TIGs project might thus open up new avenues for the study of variation and change in sociolinguistics and pragmatics.

The ELF in TIGs project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF under the Elise-Richter Grant scheme (Grant no. V 747, principal investigator: Marie-Luise Pitzl).


Marie-Luise Pitzl

Project Duration

October 2019 - January 2025

Twitter Hashtag