The Language of Work

Author(s) Koester A.
Publisher Routledge
Published 2004
Price 12.99
ISBN 0415307309
Reviewed by Shuna Marr
University of Stirling
Review published 8 September 2005

This book is a ‘satellite’ text, complementary to the foundation text ‘Working with Texts: A core introduction to language analysis (second edition, 2001)’, designed to meet the needs of contemporary English Language Studies. However, it is an engaging and accessible book for anyone interested in developing an understanding of how to analyse written and spoken language in a variety of workplace situations. The text is not only informative but also offers the reader many practical applications.

The author uses a variety of real world examples, such as letters, emails, telephone conversations and job advertisements, to examine many different aspects of workplace language within different business settings and analyse the relationships, values and assumptions revealed with the text. The language of various texts are dissected to reveal, for example, hierarchical relationships, the distinctions between formal and informal language or what job advertisements are really looking for. Insights are also offered into how subtle changes in wording, pauses or intonation can be useful in negotiations, guiding the direction of conversations and building employee relationships.

The book is set out in 6 chapters, each building on the previous, which would be useful to tutors in forming the basis of lessons and the exercises seem constructed with this in mind. Each chapter introduces the aims of each section and summarises at the end. Its layout, incorporating a variety of styles, boxes and white spaces, make it look inviting and easy to dip into, while the accompanying explanations to the numerous examples are very accessible and could be interpreted at many levels. There is also extremely good sign-posting throughout the book as to where to find answers or further discussion on the text and a comprehensive and useful ‘Index of Terms’ is provided at the end.