Routledge Handbook of Language and Trauma

edited by Judith Purkarthofer, Marcelyn Oostendorp and Brigitta Busch

Date of Publication: End of 2024


The proposed volume introduces a field of research that links language as a social practice to historic and contemporary experiences of trauma. In contrast to other publications, our focus is on research in applied linguistics, which aims to expand the field of trauma studies beyond medical and literature focused research. This volume will foreground the methods and approaches that are used in applied linguistics, while emphasizing interdisciplinary links. This makes it an attractive read for experts in the field as it maps the core and more peripheral areas of language-related trauma research. This volume will provide an entry point for advanced students and scholars across the broader humanities and social sciences into various facets of the trauma-language interface. This will include insight into:

  • the mediating role of language in the (non)expression of traumatic experiences,

  • the role of trauma in language deprivation and the traumatic consequences of language deprivation,

  • language as trauma inducing,

  • language learning for trauma-survivors and under traumatic conditions,

  • language and its role in resilience and healing in both individual and historical/generational trauma, and

  • different political, historical and geographical contexts of trauma.

The volume aims to highlight what applied linguistics can contribute to trauma research and therapy. Conversely, we also showcase what can be gained if applied linguistics ventures into the field of trauma research. Trauma, like other intense experiences and feelings such as pain, grief, and rage, touches at the limits of the sayable. In situations of trauma, linguistic interaction might be perceived as so ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ that these kinds of interactions might appear marginal to an understanding of how language in ‘normal’ interaction functions. Our handbook offers a perspective in which it is only by paying closer attention to the exceptional, the marginal, the disturbing that the significance of the messiness, omissions, silences, and ambiguities in what is considered ordinary, ‘normalized’ every-day practice can be better understood.